Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Development not stopping hunger, more than 400 million Indians malnourished

» 10/16/2007
Development not stopping hunger, more than 400 million Indians malnourished
by Nirmala Carvalho
The International Food Policy Research Institute shows that 40 per cent of the world's underweight children under five live in India. Add disadvantaged groups like the poor and women who have a hard time feeding themselves and you get 400 million people. Priests and activists point the finger at corruption and bad governance.

New Delhi (AsiaNews) – Industrial development, tax reforms and entrepreneurship are not enough to overcome malnutrition. India may be the second fastest growing economy in the world but it still has a long way to go in eradicating hunger where it is ranked in 94th position well behind neighbouring China and Pakistan, which are 47th and 88th respectively, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) reported.

In a recent study the IFPRI points out that whatever improvement India has achieved it is not in proportion to its economic boom and that it is children who suffer the most. In fact, 40 per cent of the world's underweight children under five live in India. Add to them disadvantaged groups like the poor and women who have a hard time at feeding themselves and you reach the figure of 400 million people.

According to Fr Nithiya Sagayam, executive secretary of the National Commission for Justice, Peace and Development, these figures "are nothing new but sadly confirm what we already knew."

"The growing economy and industrial development have replaced agriculture, which gave hope for development in large rural areas of India," he said. "The cities are now eating whilst farming villages go hungry."

For Father Sagayam corruption is another major problem. "It is endemic in the government apparatus. Whatever programme it launches, it fails. This explains why we have corrupt public officials who steal funds or manage them on behalf of family and friends. The poor are not represented or defended by anyone."

Lenin Raghuvanshi, director of the People's Vigilance Committee on Human Rights, agrees. "Government policies seem anti-poor. Government welfare schemes are dominated by caste and corruption. This does not allow for the development of society, but only of a few strata," he told AsiaNews.

"India is a pseudo-democracy," he laments. "Projects are announced but never implemented. Special Economic Zones, farm policies, public procurement are destroying the lives of ordinary people. The conditions of the masses is tragic. In this situation the Indian government must intervene with force."


Healthcare Crisis Among UP Weavers

October 07, 2007
Healthcare Crisis Among UP Weavers
Cases of TB are being reported among weaver communities - with government health care centers non-operational, and their livelihoods in tatters, they are helpless.
Related Links
१0 Million Skilled Workers Face Extinction
Several persons are infected with tuberculosis in Lohta panchayat of Varanasi district. Most of these persons are from the handloom weaver community of the state who find it difficult to manage daily food due to poverty. In addition to poverty, non-hygienic living conditions and the absence of public health care has increased the possibility of spreading the infection. The living condition of the sick people in Lohta also symbolises the downfall of the handloom weaving industry itself that has failed to cope-up with modernization and changing environments in India
The handloom weaving industry in India depends upon state and central government support for its survival. The industry depends upon skilled weavers, who for generations made a good living out of weaving. The handloom weavers in Uttar Pradesh state, Varanasi particular, are known for their skills of weaving intricate designs, which often take days and months to finish.
After the introduction of the power looms the handloom weavers were thrown out of business. To catch up, the weavers tried to form unions and co-operatives. These attempts were successful in some states like Kerala, where the government supported its local weaving industry with special packages. However in places like Uttar Pradesh, the state government neglected the industry to such an extent that the industry is now dead.
Most of the weavers in Uttar Pradesh and surrounding places are from the Muslim community that finds isolated in the Hindu majority community. Adding on to the burden there is a huge import of cheap materials from countries like China which has broken the backbone of the entire handloom industry in India. The result is acute starvation and hunger in the weavers' families. Faced with lack of market for their product and resultant poverty, soon several members of the weavers contacted tuberculosis.
Tuberculosis treatment and its success depend upon good medical conditions and nutritious food. Due to the failure and neglect of the government sponsored health centre's and the inability to afford proper food, tuberculosis has spread uncontrollably in several parts of Uttar Pradesh among the handloom weaving community. Once a member of a family is infected, several other members also get infected with tuberculosis. Lohta village in Varanasi district of Uttar Pradesh is one example.
Out of an estimated 200 families of weavers some 50 persons are infected with tuberculosis, a preventable and curable illness in modern India. The plight of life of the following families tells the sad tale of government neglect, exploitation and starvation of many families, if left to their fate will soon perish. India being a country that produces some of the high quality drugs exported all over the world at the lowest prices denies proper medical treatment for its own people. For further information please read the cases narrated below. All these families are from Lohta village of Varanasi district who are engaged in handloom weaving and struggling to survive.
Case 1:Ms. Rehana is 32 years old and is the wife of Mohamad Hafiz. Rehana lives in Dhamariya Street in Lohta. Since the past one year Rehana is infected with tuberculosis. She weighs only 31 kilos. Mohamad Hafiz was a handloom weaver. But due to the absence of any business, Hafiz has stopped weaving since the past three years. Now both Hafiz and Rehana sell snacks in the village and are trying to make a livelihood.
Hafiz and Rehana can hardly make enough money to run the family each day that for most days they have to starve. When Rehana became sick Hafiz could not afford to provide better treatment to Rehana. They went to the nearby government public health centre for treatment. But at the centre Rehana did not get any treatment.
At the hospital they could not even afford to take a medical X-ray and they had to return without receiving any treatment. Rehana and Hafiz have a 3 year-old daughter who is also suffering from tuberculosis. The family does not have a ration card with which they could get food grains for subsidised price.
Case 2:Ms. Zubeeda Bibi is about 55 years old. Her husband Rahmat died in 2004. Zubeeda lives in Mahmoodpur in Lohta panchayat. Zubeeda is suffering from tuberculosis since the past eight years. Zubeeda weighs only 40 kilos. Zubeeda have three daughters and one son.
Zubeeda's one daughter weaves embroidery on sarees for which she manages thirty to forty rupees in about three to four day's work, provided someone gives her work. This is the only income for the family. With this pittance, the family consisting of five members cannot even have a meal for everyone once a week. Zubeeda's family has a ration card, but finds it difficult to use it since they have to buy ration articles, for which they have no money. Zubeeda has no money to treat her.
Case 3 :Ms. Asma is aged 40 years and the second wife of Mr. Mohammad Reyaz. Asma also lives in Mahmoodpur in Lohta. Asma is the second wife of Reyaz. In the first marriage Reyaz has four children and in Asma Reyaz has two children. Reyaz is addicted to alcohol and is a carpet weaver. Due to his addiction to alcohol, Reyaz spends twenty to thirty rupees every day on country liquor.
Asma suspects that she is infected with tuberculosis since the past three years. Due to Reyaz's drinking habits Asma is now living with her father and her brother Mustaq. Mustaq took Asma to the public welfare hospital at Kamacha in Varanasi. At the hospital only an x-ray was taken to diagnose her ailment. The doctor who examined her said that Asma does not have tuberculosis. But due to her coughing she is quite certain that she is suffering from the disease. Asma's family does not have enough money to take her for a better consultation. Asma is afraid to be with her children since she fears whether she would transmit the disease to her children.
Case 4: Mr. Ramzan Ali is aged 30 years and lives in Mahmoodpur in Lohta. Ramzan suffers from cough and fever since the past three months. He has three children, of which the elder daughter is 14 years-old. The eldest daughter lost her sight in an eye in an accident and is the only earning member of the family. Like Zubeeda's daughter, Ramzan's daughter also does embroidery work on sarees and manages thirty to forty rupees in three or four days. But with this income the family cannot survive or even have a single day's decent meal.
Due to poverty, and to survive, Ramzan's other two children are working as bonded labourers. Even though sick, Ramzan works in a nearby power loom. The family also does not have any ration card that could get them free ration.
Ramzan Ali is finding it difficult to pull along his family and is so desperate that he is contemplating to commit suicide after killing his wife and children.
Case 5:Mr. Badruddin is aged 34 years and lives in Dhamariya in Lohta. Badruddin is sick from tuberculosis since the last eight years. Badruddin has no means to get a proper medical treatment. Badruddin wants to educate his children. But he cannot afford to send them to school. Badruddin does not have a ration card by which he could get rationed articles free of cost or at a lower price.
Case 6:Mr. Mohhamad Mustafa is aged 60 and lives in Mahmoodpur in Lohta. Mustafa is blind since the past six years. Six years before when Mustafa had an infection in his left eye, he went for treatment at the Madanpura hospital in Varanasi. After the short hospitalization, Mustafa returned home with infection in his right eye also and soon he lost sight in both his eyes. Since he lost sight in both eyes, Mustafa cannot work anymore. Mustafa lives with his wife, two sons and three unmarried daughters. Mustafa's two sons, Mustaquim and Mohammad Muslim are infected with tuberculosis. They have no means to obtain any treatment.
Case 7: Mohammad Sallauddin is aged 30 years and lives in Mahmoodpur in Lohta. Sallaudin is married and lives with his wife, two sons and an unmarried sister Farjana. Sallaudin suffers frequent attacks of epilepsy and cannot work. His sister Farjana and his wife are the only earning members of the family. Farjana also suffers from tuberculosis. The family is so poor that they cannot afford for any treatment, or for any proper food.
Case 8:Mr. Mohammad Gulam Ali is aged 45 years and lives in Mahmoodpur in Lohta. Gulam is suffering from tuberculosis since eight years. Gulam had to stop weaving due to his sickness. Gulam lives with his wife and three children. Gulam's daughter Rabiya is aged 10 years and she is also suffering from tuberculosis. Gulam's eldest son Ismaile is aged 25 and is continuing with the weaving profession. But the income Ismaile earn is not enough to keep the family fed properly.
To make matters worse in 1999 an unknown person approached Gulam and collected his name and other details. Later in 2000 Gulam came to know that the Lohta police have charged Gulam with a case alleging child labour. When the case was charged Ismaile, Gulam's son was a minor and Gulam now learns that the case is charge sheeted against Gulam alleging that he was employing his son as a bonded labour. Since then Gulam is summoned to the court at least eight times a year. The case is continuing and Gulam is pleading innocence since he was only trying to teach his son what he knew. Even according to law, Gulam's case cannot be considered as one of child labour. However, for the Indian courts to take a decision in such matters, it would take many more years.
Other facts relevant to the appealFor the entire Lohta region and other five nearby villages there is one officer appointed from the revenue department. This officer, known as the 'Nodal Officer', is expected to regularly report to the District Magistrate. It is through the reports submitted by this officer the district administration is informed about the welfare of the people living in these villages. For this the Nodal Officer is expected to visit houses and prepare his report of the living conditions of the people. However, the officer never visits the houses, and forges reports, whenever he wishes, according to his whims and fancies. This is because it is not practical for the officer to visit thousands of houses which he has to cover to prepare a report.
There is no primary health centre in Lohta. The condition of the primary health centre in nearby Kashi Vidhyapith Block is very bad. This centre covers 85 villages with approximately 60,000 persons. The centre is located about 2 ½ kilometers away from the main road. The access road to the centre is in such a condition that it is difficult for anyone to reach the centre.
On September 11, 2007 the staff of the PVCHR went to the health centre and they found that the centre was locked, without any staff around. There is a hand pump and a well at the centre. The well is dry and the hand pump does not work. In paper the centre has two doctors, one nurse, two health assistants - one male and one female, one compounder and a lab technician. In addition to the staff the centre must also have 112 types of essential medicines, ready at the centre to be delivered free of cost to the patients. None of these facilities are available at the centre.
The weavers being poor are not in a position to approach the private hospitals in the city and have to depend upon government health centers. However the doctors in charge of these centres work for private hospitals and keep the centers closed so that the patients are forced to approach the private clinics. Most of these doctors also have private practice and also work illegally at the private hospitals. The government also neglects these health centres by failing to provide medicines and staff.
Failure of government services mostly affects the poor and the marginalised. The handloom weavers in Varanasi being poor are one of the worst affected communities due to the poor functioning of the government health centre. The result is the alarming number of persons affected by tuberculosis in Lohta.
- Dr. Lenin Raghuvanshi, the PVCHR, SA4/2A, Daulatpur, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, INDIA. Telephone +91-9935599333 . Email: pvchr@yahoo.com Posted by collective at October 07, 2007 08:45 AM

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Google Alert - pvchr

Google News Alert for: pvchr

Weaving dreams, living a nightmare
Deccan Herald - Bangalore,India
... Dr Lenin Raghuvanshi of the Peoples' Vigilance Committee for Human Rights (PVCHR) that works for the rights of the weavers in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. ...
See all stories on this topic

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Mynmar; an example of how the powerful nations deal with others.

From: Subodh R. Pyakurel <subodh@insec.org.np>
Date: Oct 11, 2007 10:13 AM
Subject: Mynmar; an example of how the powerful nations deal with others.
To: "DR.Lenin" <pvchr.india@gmail.com>

In fact according to Clancy, "to insure access to gas, oil and timber, Beijing and Delhi are blocking international intervention against the junta's brutality. Now is the time to make our voices heard, and demand at least that the International Red Cross be allowed access to the country. The slaughter must end".

Dear Lenin,

Thanks for the regular information of solidarity and rights based intervention. This is the Powerful nation's phenomena of defining and practicing democracy. Economy and economic benefits are surpassing all ideals. Instead of supporting democratic movement as an tool to respect and protect people's sovereignty China & now the new comer India are playing to compete for the extortion and exploitation as quick as possible before Myanmar people go beyond their economical captivity. It is very difficult even to understand that how the democratic parties strategize to maintain their national integrity and freedom if they are set free from the Junta dictatorship. Myanmar has been so much militarized nation that I was surprised to know that in Suu Kui's party also former Generals are on the senior ranks of leadership. Let us hope that people will be able to overcome.



Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Indian activists call on Delhi to stop supporting the Burmese repression

» 10/09/2007 14:18

Indian activists call on Delhi to stop supporting the Burmese repression

by Nirmala Carvalho
According to Lenin Raghuvanshi, winner of the 2007 Gwangju Prize, the behaviour of the Indian executive shames the entire population. Only with the help of the international community, Beijing and Dehli in first place, can the carnage of Myanmar be stopped

Delhi (AsiaNews) – Indian people “feel ashamed and disheartened by this passive stand of our government towards Myanmar” and invite the executive “urge our government to break ties with the military rulers who have shown to be extremely repressive to their citizens”. This is the sense of an open letter sent to the government of the Indian Union by Lenin Raghuvanshi, Director of People Vigilance Committee on Human Rights and winner of the 2007 Gwangju award, the Asian “Noble peace prize”.
In the text, the activist underlines that “We are witnessing one of the most remarkable peaceful struggle by the people of Myanmar for the democracy and civil rights. It is so painful to see this
struggle being suppressed with utmost cruelty by the military rulers of the country. This kind of treatment is outrageous in modern society and we strongly condemn this.”. This however “is not enough: many governments across the world have raised their voice against this outrage, while Delhi remains in silence. We feel ashamed and disheartened by this stand of our government especially when India had a rich tradition for supporting democratic and humanistic movements in the past we have always stood for the values over interests, and we must continue to do so”.
Speaking to AsiaNews, Raghuvanshi comments: “we are Indians and among our great masters are Buddha and Ghandi. For this reason we can only admire the non violent strength of the Burmese monks, and cry for the massacre carried out by the military, which has no sense and only brings pain and sorrow”.
Of the same opinion John Joseph Clancy, Chairman of the Board, Asian Human Rights Commission speaking to AsiaNews he underlines: “in order to bring this to a just end, the cooperation of international organisations is fundamental, but above all we need the will of China and India: neighbouring countries who are anxious to get all the oil and natural resources of Myanmar- should intervene in the situation”. In fact according to Clancy, “to insure access to gas, oil and timber, Beijing and Delhi are blocking international intervention against the junta’s brutality. Now is the time to make our voices heard, and demand at least that the International Red Cross be allowed access to the country. The slaughter must end”.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Folk School at Belwa

Varanasi villagers learn to demand civic

rights on World Literacy Day

From our ANI Correspondent

Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh), Sept। 8: As educational institutions celebrated World Literacy Day in different parts of the country on Saturday, a school in Varanasi educated villagers on their basic civic rights.

Led by Lenin, a human rights organisation has been setting up makeshift classrooms out in the open in Uttar Pradesh, telling villagers to stand up and fight for their rights.

Lenin says many villagers sometimes find it difficult to question the authorities.

"If they learn what their rights are, what the law says about their rights, and they are able to speak about their needs, fight for their rights instead of asking for them in charity, this is the kind of education we need to spread across the country," he said.

Villagers say the classes are a boon for them and their children.

"No one in my family is educated. So, we did not know about our rights. Now, I am studying, I will teach my children. When they have knowledge, it will equip them to fight for their rights," said Kismati, a student.

Lenin's efforts have been appreciated by a visiting Korean group.

The literacy rate in Uttar Pradesh is higher for males than for females.

Census figures show that the number of illiterates in the country has reduced by 32 million in the last one decade.

The National Literacy Mission, launched in 1988 by former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, has increased the rate of literacy in the country.

Besides the universalisation of primary education, steps are being taken to promote adult literacy.

Copyright Dailyindia.com/ANI

Sunday, October 07, 2007

About the Convenor of PVCHR in the view of Ashoka

Lenin Raghuvanshi, 2001

Contextual Background

In recent times, a quick glance at the headlines and front pages would lead one to believe that whatever third world associations India may have had in the past, it is now on the up and up, poised to take its rightful place amongst the leading nations of the world. The country has become synonymous with numbers like 9% (the country's GDP growth rate), pictures of gleaming IT campuses in Bangalore, and businessmen in well cut suits merging and acquisitioning their way onto Forbes list of billionaires.
Yet for Dr. Lenin Raghuvanshi, the founding director of People's Vigilance Committee for Human Rights (PVCHR), it is difficult to reconcile this rosy picture of India with the plight of the thirty eight million textile workers who comprise the second largest sector in the economy after agriculture. Those who have perhaps suffered most are the five million weavers of India's silk capital and Hindu holy city: Varnasi, Dr. Lenin's home city.
In 2001, India, eager to gain access to international markets in other sectors, lifted quantitative restrictions on silk imports in compliance with agreements with the World Trade Organization. This then opened the gate to a flood of power-loom made, cheap (compared to the handloom made Indian equivalents) silk imports from China. In the years since then, handloom production has declined nearly 7% annually, and more than half of the workers have found other work. Many of the less fortunate have died, emaciated by starvation. Still others in increasing numbers have begun to take their own lives [1].
For Dr. Lenin, a death due to starvation is a violation of a person's fundamental right to life, one guaranteed by the Indian constitution. Yet in 2004 and 2005 alone there were 39 reported cases of hunger deaths in a country where there is surplus food and government schemes to prevent starvation.


Something had clearly gone wrong. When reports of hunger deaths reached him, Dr. Lenin and PVCHR decided the most effective way to stop the deaths would be to pressure the local authorities – managers of the public food distribution system (PDS) which exists to provide free or subsidized food to those in need – who were obligated to prevent the deaths but had failed.
Dr. Lenin's strategy to do this best has been: (1) determine why the local government failed to prevent the deaths by filing right to information (RTI) queries and petitioning the courts; (2) bring transparency to the situation by alerting the media and human rights groups thereby raising public and international outrage; (3) unite the handloom weavers so their combined voice of protest would be loud enough to put direct pressure on the government to act in the future; (4) and, use this united group to learn about other hunger deaths or urgent situations.
PVCHR's efforts to help a weaver named Vishambhar in Shankapur village near Varanasi are representative of this strategy. After 2001 changes in the trade rules, it became harder and harder for Vishambhar to support his family by weaving until by 2005, it had become impossible; there was virtually no work for him.
The local government failed to qualify Vishambhar for food subsidies. It is apparently widely known that PDS officials at all levels are often corrupt individuals who require bribes from the poor to issue ration cards and then the subsequent food subsidies. Those at the lowest level are often forced to seek bribes at the bequest of their supervisors up the chain. The marginalized poor have little recourse other than to pay what they must, and if they are unable as perhaps Vishambhar was, they are left to their own devices. [2]
As a result of being denied food subsidies, Vishambhar and his family began to starve. In April 2005, his wife and sixteen year old daughter died due to severe malnutrition. A second child followed one month later. His three other children were sent to a charity run orphanage.
When PVCHR became aware of Vishambhar, the organization immediately filed petitions to the human rights agencies along with the Supreme Court and state leaders. In response, international organizations such as the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) and Food First Information and Action Network (FIAN) issued hunger alerts. Through these efforts, he further brought attention to the problem by informing the media. Major newspapers like the Times of India covered the story. PVCHR also made a short film on Vishambhar's plight which was then shown on BBC News in November 2005 which brought more attention still [3].

Leveraging Efforts for Local, National and Global Impact

All of this work certainly brought pressure on the local government and some relief to Vishambhar who finally received food subsidies and grants for housing, but Dr. Lenin wanted a broader solution for many others in a similar situation. He then created an organization called Boonkar – Dastkar Adhikar Manch comprised of over 25,000 affected weavers, volunteers, and sympathizers, which has become not only a forum to advocate the rights of weavers and craftsmen, but also acts as an information network alerting the PVCHR about particular weavers in distress who are unable or unwilling to seek help directly. Indeed, it was through the precursor of this network that Dr. Lenin learned of Vishambhar's case. The new organization also held a convention to give the weavers a common voice and launched a campaign for the rights of weavers.
Additionally, Dr. Lenin has fostered a reciprocal relationship with the media. By bringing the plight of the weavers to their attention he finds that now they cover such cases automatically. In fact in nearly 20% of the cases, it is the media itself that has uncovered cases of hunger death and brought it to the attention of PVCHR.
Finally Dr. Lenin also wants accountability. He filed petitions with the courts to prosecute those officials who had failed to uphold existing government schemes. Next, he organized the filing of mass RTI queries to demand information about how PDS distributes the food resources it has, how timely, and so on. The mass RTI filings, where many people would file the same RTI request at the same time, were used because he reasoned that it is much harder for the information officials to ignore one hundred requests than to ignore one. These efforts are ongoing.
 While PVCHR's movement has brought relief to many, Dr. Lenin laments that there are still too many who are dying of hunger due to over zealous trade liberalization policies and ineffective government action, corruption and neglect. He urges the easing of liberalization, clean governance, and effective implementation of the numerous government policies already in place to prevent deaths by starvation.
Written by Soham Sen, Ashoka's Law For All Initiative, Asia. April 2007. New Delhi.

[1] Francis, Bijo and Dr. Lenin Raghuvanshi, "Handloom has become like grave for weavers," Asian Human Rights Commission. 2005.
[2] Ibid

Saturday, October 06, 2007

People Tribunal on Weavers of Varanasi and Tanda (Ambedkar nagar)

People Tribunal on Weavers of Varanasi and Tanda (Ambedkar nagar)

The weaving industry has traditionally been one of India’s thriving sectors of mass employment. Abundant raw materials and an unlimited supply of cheap labour have contributed to its success in the past. However the previous section showed international trade liberalization and domestic economic reforms have impacted negatively on parts of the sector. Overall, production has stagnated; handlooms have closed down and unemployment soared. Increased imports of cheap textiles from China, rising input prices because of increased export of yarn and mechanization have all contributed to the decline.
Handloom weavers who make traditional items such as Saris, Dhotis, bed sheets and Shawls have been hit the hardest. Out of the 38 million people employed in the weaving industry 12.4 million or close to 33 percent, are concentrated in this declining part of the sector. The majority of them are low caste and extremely poor, working in small family units. More than forty percent of weavers are women.
The Banarasi silk saris made in Varanasi has been famous for centuries for its luxurious, intricately designed cloth. It was the must have for all Indian weddings. More than 600,000 weavers live in and nearby districts of Varanasi, weaving mainly for the domestic market. But since the 1990s, the silk handloom weavers who make the Banarasi saris have been their fortunes vanish.
There are many reasons for the problems facing Varanasi silk weavers: increasing competition from power loom weaving, changes in government protection policies, increasing price of raw silk and shifts in market demand. But in the last five years, an increase in imports of cheaper silk fabrics from China has exacerbated the poverty of Varanasi silk weavers.

Trade liberalization is the driving force of economic globalization, pursued relentlessly by rich nations and international financial institutions at the expanses of the poor world.
The weavers' troubles began way back in 1995-1998 when the Deve Gowda government imposed a ban on Chinese silk yarns. The idea was that Varanasi saris would only be woven from silk yarns from Bangalore. Out of habit or because of its superior quality, some weavers started smuggling Chinese yarn into the holy town. Realizing that their need for Chinese yarn would only grow, the weavers demanded an OGL (open general license).
A chronic power shortage was also crippling their activity but one of the most telling blows was delivered five years ago when the government allowed the free import of Chinese plain crepe fabrics. "This decision brought the entire business to a standstill. Now most customers prefer crepe silk to the traditional Varanasi silk because of its smooth appearance and cheaper price," explains Rajan Bahal, general secretary of Varanasi Vastra Udyog.The flaws of Varanasi silk relating to colour, texture and durability-are not found in Chinese crepe since they are woven in automated looms. "With power availability and government subsidies, the Chinese can afford to sell the finished product at a lower price, giving the traditional Varanasi silk sari tough competition. Chinese silk traders brought cheap yarn to the local market and decided to replicate Varanasi silk by hiring some weavers from Varanasi," The continuous tussle between the Bangalore and Karnataka silk lobby as well as government indifference towards import policy has led to this plight.
In fact, the art of weaving these saris now faces extinction. In Mughal times both Hindu concepts and Muslim ideas were fused to create unique aesthetic designs. The weavers weave the basic texture of the sari on handlooms and power looms-both cottage industries where the entire family is usually involved. Normally one-person weaves while two others work at revolving rings to roll bundles of the yarn. They create a Varanasi speciality yarn motifs.To create these designs, the artist first draws out the entire concept on a graph paper. He then creates small punch cards through which colour threads are passed at different stage as the cards hang on the sides of the loom. Depending on the design, these cards are paddled in a systematic way so that the right pattern and colours are picked up during the main weaving. For a single design, hundreds of such perforated cards are required. A normal sari takes anywhere from 15 days to six months depending on the complexity of the design.
But today estimated five-lakh weavers and their families in Varanasi district are looking for an alternative. Over half have been forced to take up menial jobs like pulling rickshaws. Several have opened tea stalls and paan shops. Others are closed their flourishing businesses and migrated to Bangalore and Hyderabad where they work in looms and help in dyeing and embroidery work. "At least they are better off, but you need money to migrate and contacts too. Here we are all left to starve and die," now days nearby 5 lakhs weavers are in Varanasi and 40 thousand in Tanda of Ambedkar nagar District who are still fighting for the bread for twice a day. There the rate of cases of malnutrition and starvation is too high.

For making force and pressure on India government as well as international authorities PVCHR, AHRC and Action Aid International are going to organize People’s Tribunal on Weavers of eastern UP for understanding the present situation and solution for reviving the weaving industry on the 16 November, 2007 under the chairpersonship of Mr. John Joseph Clancey, chairperson of Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) at Varanasi.

We are inviting in people’s tribunal on weavers of eastern UP.

Waiting your kind response.

With warm Regards,

Dr. Lenin

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

बर्मा के सैन्य शासन के खिलाफ

Burning effigy of Burma Military Dictator

On 2nd October Mahatma Gandhi Birthday celebrated all over the world as International non- violence day. On that day satyagrahi of Varanasi burn the effigy of Burma Military dictator in district headquarter and demand reinstatement of democracy in Burma. Burma military dictator restrains the reinstatement of democracy movement that was started in 1988.
Satyagrahi demands Indian Government to make pressure, so appropriate step should be take to stop dictatorship, reinstate democracy and release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.
Burma Government increases 500 % of Petrol and diesel rate so, Boadh monk and nun protest against this. Burma Government try to restrains their democracy demand by fighting stick and by gunshot.

It is informed that Nobel Prize winner Aung Soo in 2004 gets Gwanjoo Human Rights Award by May18 foundations. In leadership of Gwanjoo Human Rights Awardee Dr. Lenin all Human Rights activist satyagrahi burn the effigy of Burma Government and demand the reinstatement of democracy and release of Aung San Suu Kyi.

Gwangjoo Asian Human Rights Awardee Dr. Lenin said today on 2nd October birthday of Mahatma Gandhi and place of Gautam Buddha we citizen of non- violence country demand Indian Government to immediate interfere so, Burma Human Rights activist and people who are peace loving and follower of non- violence should be safe and also contribute in reinstatement of democracy in Burma.
In burning effigy programme held in Varanasi where activist from people’s vigilance committee on Human Rights, People’s watch U.P, V.O.P and Savitri Bai Phule Panchayat gathered. Dr. Lenin, Shruti, Prashant, Ajay, Jai Kumar, Anand and Musa Azmi were present. Gokul managed the programme.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Fwd: Regular folk school reports

From: Bijo Francis <bijo@ahrchk.org>
Date: Sep 25, 2007 4:10 PM
Subject: Regular folk school reports
To: Basil Fernando <basilfwp@ahrchk.org>
Cc: "DR.Lenin" <pvchr.india@gmail.com>

Dear Basil


Attached please find two reports from the PVCHR of the folk-school sessions held by the PVCHR. The sessions are held regularly by the PVCHR, targeting the Dalitbahujans and other marginalised communities like the weavers. This is much better a platform for the ordinary people to articulate their concerns and problems than the often highly politicised and personified national and regional networks currently existing in India.


The language used in these reports may not be refined, but the content is rich with personal experiences and concerns of the ordinary people and matters affecting their life. The reports are prepared by a new staff appointed by the PVCHR, paid by us, who is also mailing us cases for the UA programme.






Bijo Francis
South Asia Desk
Go-Up Commercial Building, 998 Canton Road
Kowloon, Hong Kong SAR
Telephone:  [extn: 105]
Fax: 852 - 26986367
Mobile: 852
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Dr. Lenin (Ashoka Fellow)
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