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Strong mechanism is required to regulate NGOs : Supreme Court

Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) are now working without any regulation and doing what they want. Even many NGOs are doing unfair practices. The Supreme Court bench led by CJI Thakur appointed senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi and sought his views on how to fasten accountability on the NGOs when they are funded from the public exchequer.

Favouring a strong regime to regulate NGOs, the Supreme Court suggested that the Law Commission may look into the matter and make suitable recommendations to fill in the lacuna in legal provisions. A bench led by Chief Justice of India T S Thakur appointed senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi as amicus curiae and sought his views on how to fasten accountability on the NGOs when they are funded from the public exchequer.

“They are getting money from all over the world… what is an NGO? Anyone can register a society and it becomes an NGO. There is no central legislation to ensure accountability… no legal brainwork done at the central level to control them. Unless some mechanism is put in place centrally, nothing can be done,” observed the bench.

It regretted that out of around 31 lakh NGOs, less than 10 per cent submitted details of their accounts with the registrar of societies and said that absence of a central law could be the reason for lack of regulatory regime. It asked PIL petitioner-advocate M L Sharma to hand over a copy of the petition and other relevant documents to Dwivedi, and added that if necessary, the court might refer the matter to the Law Commission for an in-depth study.

The first-ever exercise by the CBI to map registered NGOs had disclosed that India has at least 31 lakh NGOs — more than double the number of schools in the country, 250 times the number of government hospitals, one NGO for 400 people as against one policeman for 709 people. These statistics, indicating the relative status of education and healthcare infrastructure apart from policing, have come to light after the CBI collated information from all states and Union Territories to list NGOs registered under the Societies Registration Act.

The CBI was directed by the court to collect information about NGOs and inform whether these NGOs have filed balance sheets, including income-expenditure statements, to ascertain compliance with accountability norms.
(Source: http://indianexpress.com)

NGO organisers and relatives have to file assets and liabilities under the Lokpal Act

The implications of falling under the ambit of the Lokpal Act have discomfited many non-governmental organisations.
Two years after the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, 2013 was enacted by the UPA government, the Centre’s decision to operationalise a couple of provisions has set off alarm bells among a large section of the NGO sector.

Three notifications from the Department of Personnel dated June 20, 2016, and an official memo on June 24, laid down the procedures and timelines for filing returns of public servants, the definition of which in the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act includes office bearers of NGOs.

Section 14 (1) of the Act includes directors, managers, secretaries and other officers of societies, trusts and associations of persons that receive more than Rs 10 lakhs under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) under its ambit. It does the same in the case the organisations wholly or partly funded by the Central government if they receive an annual grant above a limit that may be fixed by it. (This has been set at Rs 1 crore.)

July 31 deadline
Earlier, Central government employees had been asked to file their assets and liabilities under the Lokpal Act. But what the June 20 notifications did was extend this to those working in NGOs and set the deadline for submissions of their returns to a designated authority by July 31.

Ironically, the Lokpal Act’s definition of senior employees of NGOs as ‘public servants’, thereby bringing them under the Lokpal and making them prosecutable under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 (PCA), went through Parliament without a murmur. These were inserted at the insistence of civil society activists such as Arvind Kejriwal, now Delhi’s Chief Minister, who were campaigning for the legislations.

“As the Act was passed in Parliament and defines those who work in NGOs as public servants, the rules are the same and they are expected to follow it,” said K.S. Dhatwalia, spokesperson for the Home and Personnel ministries.

Specific target
But the notification which makes it mandatory for senior staff of NGO’s to provide details of cash, bank balances, immovable properties and loans of themselves, their spouses and dependent children has caused a deep discomfort within a section of the NGOs.

Refusing to buy the Centre’s argument that it is merely implementing what is prescribed already in the Act, there are some who believe that this is a part of the Centre’s strategy to target NGOs. The Home Ministry’s cancellation of the registration of 10,020 associations for violation of the FCRA is cited as evidence of this.

Says Aakar Patel, executive director of Amnesty India: “The present notification needs to be seen in the context of the actions of the government over the last two years, which has combined targeting of specific human rights NGOs and wholesale cancellations of FCRA registrations.”

Uniformly applicable
Privately, some members of NGOs admit they were blinkered in failing to notice the implication of being declared public servants under the Lokpal Act. Moreover, that it is also somewhat self-serving to continue to demand that disclosures be made by bureaucrats while seeking exemptions for themselves.

But what triggered the June notifications? According to official home ministry sources, it was the large amount of funds sent from foreign donors to Christian missionaries and Islamic organisations. On March 28, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) put two foreign donors — U.S.- based Compassion International and South Korea’s Family Federation for World Peace and Unification — under the “watch-list” after adverse reports from security agencies. A senior government official said these two associations were sending money to NGOs in India who were involved in proselytisation.

The issue found an echo in the Rajya Sabha last week when nominated MP Anu Aga pointed out that while “NGOs and charitable institutions work for the public, they are voluntary and regulated by several laws including the Charity Commissioner and the Registrar of Societies and Income Tax and FCRA. Trustees of these NGOs are not public servants because they give their time and some also give their financial support on a voluntary basis.”

Senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh, NCP leader Sharad Pawar wanted the Centre to have a relook at the provisions of the Act.

Several NGO representatives have petitioned senior officials in the Prime Ministers Office (PMO) asking for a respite from the order. The Centre is considering withdrawing the notification and making amendments to the Lokpal Act.

(News source: Vijaita Singh and G. Sampath : The Hindu)

Now NGO members’ record is mandatory to declare to get Government Funds

The Central Government has made a number of things mandatory in order to regulate corruption and misuse of NGOs, particularly in their financial matters. It was already mandatory to obtain Unique Identification numbers and have them registered on the portal of NITI Aayog. Now, in an effort to improve transparency and to keep a check on transactions involving misuse and corruption, the details of PAN and Aadhaar numbers of all the position holders and trustees of the organisation must be registered as well. Failing to do so would render them unable to apply for funding from any ministry of the government.

The NITI Aayog came upon this decision on 9 May 2016. All ministries have been instructed to process applications for grants and assistance from NGOs solely through the NITI Aayog’s portal.
Furthermore, development of a system to assign unique identification numbers to all charitable trusts and societies was also decided in another meeting regarding this matter, along with the provisions of direct benefit transfers and enrollment of Aadhaar.
In accordance with the provisions of the Aadhaar Act, this is one of the steps to involve the use of Aadhaar in various schemes of the government. Inclusion of the Aadhaar provides the factor of an additional security as there is biometric data of the participants involved which can be used to identify the individuals.
Another notification to heed to in particular is a June 26 notification of the Centre. It states that, in accordance with the Lokpal and Lok Ayukta Act (2013), the members handling an NGO’s everyday operations will be treated as public servants if an NGO acquires government funding exceeding Rs. 1 carore. This limit is marked at Rs. 10 lakh per year in case of foreign funding.
The notification also says that trustees and office holders of the NGOs must declare their moveable and immovable properties, cash, personal assets and jewellery by July 31.
They are subject to rules and regulations for government officials under the Prevention of Corruption Act too.
While the notification and regulations are an effort to increase the accountability of the NGOs, the notification has also caused a little chaos and raised some fears as it is being interpreted as an attempt to increase the Centre’s control in these regards.
The motive behind these reforms is to ease the process of identifying, verifying and maintanance for the receivers as well as the donors.

Organ Donation and Transplantation Provides Second Life

Enhanced awareness needed to encourage people to donate organs
(Dr. H. R. Keshavamurthy)

Organ donation and transplantation provides a second chance at life for thousands of people each year. The growing disparity between the rich and poor, demand for human organs and availability of technology in the country makes the trading of organs a quick means to riches for some and a relief for others. Invariably Organ trade leads to exploitation of the poverty-stricken people by tempting them with financial gains to meet their immediate short-term financial needs.

Each year hundreds of Indians die while waiting for an organ transplant. The reason being there is acute imbalance between the number of organs donated and the number of people waiting for a transplant. While 2.1 lakh Indians require kidney transplantation annually, but only 3000 – 4000 kidney transplants are done. The situation is not very different in relation to heart transplants. While annually around 4,000–5,000 patients in India require a heart transplant, so far only 100 heart transplants have been conducted across the country. According to the National Programme for Control of Blindness (NPCB) 2012-13 report, only 4,417 corneas were available in 2012-13 against a whopping requirement of 80,000-1, 00,000 per year.  There are currently over 120 transplant centres   in India performing approximately 3,500 to 4,000 kidney transplants annually. Out of these four centres undertake approximately 150 to 200 liver transplants annually while some do an occasional heart transplant.

Finding a donor is the main issue in the country. Lack of awareness and improper infrastructure facilities are the main reasons behind the existing scenario. Administrative hurdles and conservative mindset further affect organ transplantation scenario in India.  There are a lot of myths associated with organ donation which needs to be addressed to solve this problem. Most Indians generally believe that it is against the nature and religion that body parts are mutilated. Some are suspicious that the hospital staff may not work hard to save their lives if they want organs. Others believe that there might be a temptation to declare them dead before they are actually dead. Lack of a centralized registry for organ donation acts as another major hurdle for the people to donate organs or get data about donors. Also, there is a problem of certifying brain deaths; if people are not aware of brain deaths; it becomes difficult to convince the relatives of the patients for organ donation.

Kidney transplants in India first started in the 1970s and since then India has been a leading country in this field on the Asian sub-continent. The evolutionary history of transplants in the last four decades has witnessed commerce in organ donation becoming an integral part of the program. The Government passed the Transplantation of Human Organ Act (THO) in 1994 which made unrelated transplants illegal and deceased donation a legal option with the acceptance of brain death. Overcoming organ shortage by tapping into the pool of brain-dead patients was expected to curb the unrelated transplant activity. But, despite the THO Act, neither has the commerce stopped nor have the number of deceased donors increased to take care of organ shortage. The concept of brain death has never been promoted or widely publicized. Most unrelated transplants currently are being done with the approval from an Authorization committee.

Government of India enacted the ‘Transplantation of Human Organs (Amendment) Act in 2011 which made provisions for simplifying the procedure for human organ donation. The provisions included retrieval centres and their registration for retrieval of organs from deceased donors, swap donation and a mandatory inquiry by the registered medical practitioner of a hospital in consultation with transplant coordinator (if available) from the near relative(s) of potential donor admitted in Intensive Care Unit and informing them about the option to donate and if they consent to donate, inform the retrieval centre for retrieval of organs.

In India, the potential for deceased donation is huge due to the high number of fatal road traffic accidents and this pool is yet to be tapped. At any given time, every major city would have 8 – 10 brain deaths in various ICUs. Some 4 – 6% of all hospital deaths are due to brain death. In India, road accidents account for around 1.4 lakh deaths annually. Out of these, almost 65% sustain severe head injuries as per a study carried out by AIIMS, Delhi.  This means there are almost 90,000 patients who may be brain dead.

It is not that people don’t want to donate, but that there are no mechanisms in hospitals to identify and certify brain deaths. Plus, no one empowers the relatives of a brain-dead person to save lives by donating his organs. Anyone from a child to an elderly person can be a donor. Organ donation from the brain dead – also referred to a cadaveric donation is still very low in India. While Spain has 35 organ donors per million people, Britain has 27 donors, US 26 and Australia 11, India’s count stands at a mere 0.16 per million people.

Donor Card

Signing a donor card is the first step in making your wishes about donation known. A donor card is not a legal document but an expression of one’s willingness to donate. While signing a donor card demonstrates one’s desire to donate organ after death, letting the family or friends know about the decision is very important. That is because family members will be asked to give consent for the donation. The decision will be considered final when they give consent. Vital organs such as heart, liver, lungs, kidneys, pancreas and intestines, and tissues such as corneas, heart valves, skin, bones, ligaments, tendons, veins, etc. can be donated in case of brain death.

THOT Rules

The recently notified Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues Rules(THOT), 2014 has many provisions to remove the impediments to organ donation while curbing misuse/misinterpretation of the rules. To mention a few;

The medical practitioner who will be part of the organ transplantation team for carrying out transplantation operation shall not be a member of the Authorisation Committee constituted under the Act.

When the proposed donor or recipient or both are not Indian nationals or citizens whether near relatives or otherwise, the Authorisation Committee shall consider all such requests and the transplantation shall not be permitted if the recipient is a foreign national and donor is an Indian national unless they are near relatives.

When the proposed donor and the recipient are not near relatives, the Authorisation Committee shall evaluate that there is no commercial transaction between the recipient and the donor and that no payment has been made to the donor or promised to be made to the donor or any other person

Cases of swap donation referred to under subsection shall be approved by Authorisation Committee of hospital or district or State in which transplantation is proposed to be done and the donation of organs shall be permissible only from near relatives of the swap recipients.

When the recipient is in a critical condition in need of life saving organ transplantation within a week, the donor or recipient may approach hospital in-charge to expedite evaluation by the Authorisation Committee.

The quorum of the Authorisation Committee should be minimum four and is not complete without the participation of the Chairman, Secretary (Health) or nominee and Director of Health Services or nominee.

Every authorised transplantation centre must have its own website. The Authorisation Committee is required to take final decision within twenty four hours of holding the meeting for grant of permission or rejection for transplant and the decision of the Authorisation Committee should be displayed on the notice board of the hospital and the website within twenty four hours of taking the decision. The website of transplantation centre shall be linked to State/Regional/National Networks through online system for organ procurement, sharing and transplantation.

There would be an apex national networking organization at the centre. There would also be regional and State level networking organizations where large of number of transplantation of organ(s) or tissue (s) are performed. The State units would be linked to hospitals, Organ/Tissue matching Labs and Tissue Banks within their area and also to regional and national networking organisations. Such networks shall coordinate procurement, storage, transportation, matching, allocation and transplantation of organs/tissues and shall develop norms and standard operating procedures.

A National Registry on Donors and recipients of Human Organ and Tissue accessible on-line through dedicated website having National, Regional and State level specificities will come into force. National/Regional registry shall be compiled based on similar registries at State level. The identity of the people in the database shall not be in public domain.

NOTTO

National Organ and Tissue Transplant Organization (NOTTO) is a National level organization set up under Directorate General of Health Services, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India located Safdarjung Hospital New Delhi. Website of NOTTO (National Organ and Tissue Transplant Organization) has been launched recently.

NATTO has following two divisions:
National Human Organ and Tissue Removal and Storage Network
This has been mandated as per the Transplantation of Human Organs (Amendment) Act 2011. The network will be established initially for Delhi and gradually expanded to include other States and Regions of the country. National Network division of NOTTO would function as apex centre for All India activities of coordination and networking for procurement and distribution of Organs and Tissues and registry of Organs and Tissues Donation and Transplantation in the country.

National Biomaterial Centre (National Tissue Bank)
The main thrust & objective of establishing the centre is to fill up the gap between ‘Demand’ and ‘Supply’ as well as ‘Quality Assurance’ in the availability of various tissues.

Making organs a commodity is fraught with erosion of social, moral, and ethical values and is not an alternative that can be acceptable to meet organ requirements in a civilized society. The World Health Organization (WHO) in its statement on the sale of organs clearly states that it violates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as its own constitution: “The human body and its parts cannot be the subject of commercial transactions. Accordingly, giving or receiving payment… for organs should be prohibited.” Enhanced awareness among people is needed to encourage people to donate organs. This requires involvement of the civil society, religious leaders and other stakeholders in creating awareness.

RTI is a weapon for citizen facing arbitrary power, needs to be protected, taken further

Aruna Roy and Nikhil Dey
(Social activists and founder members of the NCPRI)

Today, India celebrates 10 years of the practice of the right to information. In this decade, this law, one critical to Indian democracy, has established the citizen’s right to make informed choices, not just once every five years, but every single day. Governments at the Central and state levels have been forced to concede to the democratic principle of sharing power. An estimated five to eight million applications are filed every year, making it clear how popular the law is. The more than 45 RTI users who have been killed bear testimony to just how much the act threatens vested interests. In posterity, those studying governance in independent India will be able to mark the patterns of a pre- and post-RTI era. It is, therefore, important to understand the immense contribution of the ordinary Indians who battled for years to get the entitlement and, since 2005, to implement the law.

Powerful and relevant local struggles can organically grow into national movements that enrich democratic practice. The demand for information was brilliant in its simplicity. People honed it locally on the nerve centers of unaccountable power. These demands for details of expenditures on roads, of life-saving medicines in hospitals, of disappearing rations, sent shockwaves through the establishment and shook the foundation of bureaucratic governance. The RTI has proved its efficacy from the panchayat to Parliament. Cutting through red tape and bureaucratic prevarication, it has exposed entrenched vested interests in policymaking and implementation, and undermined officials’ impunity in perpetuating both grand and mass corruption.

The modes of putting information to use in the public domain have been equally important. Jan sunwais evolved as a form of public accountability from a historic first hearing held in the village of Kotkirana in Pali district on December 2, 1994. The process of sharing information initially obtained through informal means and publicly verifying the evidence with local citizens galvanised people. The opposition grew in proportion, as when panchayat officials went on strike against transparency and public audits and elected representatives gave them support. It became clear that accessing information would need a sustained struggle and campaign.

The campaign built an effective and popular discourse on the right to information, using slogans and songs to articulate and communicate. The slogan “hamara paisa, hamara hisaab” powerfully asserted people’s ownership over public money and resources. The late Prabhash Joshi highlighted another slogan in his editorial in the Jansatta in 1996, “hum janenge, hum jiyenge (the right to know, the right to live)”. The RTI so defined was seen and used as a transformative right.

The straightforward logic of the struggle and campaign drew diverse groups into articulating the demand for a law. A 40-day dharna in Beawar in April 1996 led to the formation of the National Campaign for People’s Right to Information (NCPRI). Set up with the twin objectives of drafting the law and supporting the use of the RTI by citizens’ groups, it circulated the first draft with the support of the Press Council of India in 1996. State laws began to be enacted in 1997, and continued to be in force till the national law was passed in 2005.

The enactment of the RTI not only inspired a spate of other rights-based laws, but also embedded transparency and accountability within them. The structural design of social audits derived from public audits, or jan sunwais, is becoming a systemic part of democratic governance. Earlier this year, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India declared that social audits will be a part of the formal audit process. The mode of social audits is also spreading to other parts of the world.

The RTI has been India’s most powerful “weapon of the weak”, enabling citizens everywhere to question and hold to account the legislature, executive and judiciary.

They have exposed misdeeds by governments across the board, in the delivery of basic services, in land and mining, as well as grand corruption in arbitrary contracts, like in the allocations of 2G spectrum and coal blocks.

With the current attack on rights-based laws and that framework, there are difficult times ahead. The few instances of obvious “misuse” by blackmailers and eccentrics have been blown out of proportion in an attempt to discredit the RTI. Governments have excelled in delays and manipulations in appointing information commissioners. The consensual (informal) decision by all political parties to ignore the orders of the information commission mandating their inclusion under the RTI has exposed the degree to which the establishment can go to brazenly undermine the rule of law.

At one level, there is a sense of wonder that the law was enacted at all, defying prophecies that a corrupt system would never allow self-exposure. The truth is that the RTI did manage to build some statesmanship, and a consensus outside and in Parliament. Notwithstanding the implementation roadblocks, it is internationally acclaimed as amongst the strongest RTI laws in the world.

The end of the first decade sees the RTI movement poised to fight battles for accountability — the passage and implementation of the grievance redress, whistleblowers’ protection and Lokpal legislation. The unfulfilled potential of people’s participation in the pre-legislative consultative process awaits parliamentary sanction. The unfinished promise of proactive disclosure under Section 4 of the RTI Act,
the pendency in the commissions, the ever-looming threat of amendments, must keep the campaign alert to attacks to dilute the impact of the law.

“RTI laga denge (we will file an RTI application)” has become one of the most popular refrains of the frustrated Indian facing the arbitrary exercise of power. In fact, it needs to be taken further. Much eventually depends on an alert and vocal people.

The encouraging sign is that it seems like the argumentative Indian, who is now speaking truth to power, cannot and will not be gagged.

(Source: Indian Express)

Corona Prevention Social awareness suggested

Social Activists, Social Groups and NGOs can conduct digital awareness campaigns to prevent infection with the corona virus

Voluntary organisations, Social Activists and Social Groups can conduct digital awareness campaigns to avoid Corona disease which has taken the form of epidemic worldwide due to SARS COVID-19. Social Activists, Social Groups, Non Profit Non Governmental organisations and social organisations need to manage awareness programme to make public cautious through their organisation’s Facebook page, in WhatsApp groups and though other available media. Social Activists, Social Groups and NGO can generate awareness by placing information on their blogs and websites, about the process and ways to control of the increasing risk of corona infection so that it can be control and stop to spread.

Aware to the people how to avoid infection
They have to tell that whenever they use to come from outside or they have touched someone or any of its goods or objects, then they must wash their hands with soap for 30 seconds. Because corona viruses spread through drops that fall from cough and sneeze on the objects.
So whenever the outsider or goods come in contact, wash hands thoroughly. Cover your mouth while coughing or sneezing. Avoid touching the eyes, nose and mouth if the hands are not clean. Avoid going to the crowded place. If you can not avoid to go, then you stand one meter away from the other persons.

What are the symptoms of corona virus?
According to the information found so far, the infected person has first suffers by fever in coronavirus (Covide-19). After this the person gets a dry cough and then after a week it starts having trouble in breathing. These symptoms do not always mean that the person has an infection with the corona virus. So far in severe cases of corona virus, pneumonia, excessive breathing difficulties, kidney failure, heart failure and even death have been caused to the virus infected person.
The risk can be serious in the case of elderly people and those who already have a disease (eg asthma, diabetes, heart disease). In Italy and Spain, most people who died from Corona virus infection are elderly and obese. Some of those who died were also those who had diabetes and hypertension.

How to prevent spreading spreading corona infection?
Doctor’s advice must be taken and followed in every case of suspecting infection. However, also keep in mind the information being given here.
If a person has come from an infected area or has been in contact with an infected person, then that person can be advised to stay alone. Those infected people have to stay at home, do not go to office, school or public places. Infected must not travel by public vehicles such as bus, train, auto or taxi. Do not call guests at home. Be more cautious if infected is living with family or colleagues or with other people, then stay in separate rooms and continuously sanitize shared kitchen and bathroom, clean it. Following this for atleast 14 days so that the risk of infection can be reduced. Doctor’s advice is important in every case of such infection. The patient should wear a mask. Change the mask daily. Do not touch the mask. Wear the mask in such a way that the nose and mouth are covered well. Because these viral particles can enter your body by way of breath when approaching an infected person.
If someone touches a place where these particles have fallen and then touches his eye, nose or mouth with the same hand, then these particles reach his body. In this case, using tissue papers while coughing and sneezing, not touching your face without washing your hands and avoiding contact with the infected person are very important to prevent the virus from spreading. If you are healthy, still keep social distancing from other person outside the house or from outside. Social distancing means staying away from each other so that the risk of infection can be reduced.
Social Activists, Social Groups and NGOs can use the information described above to prevent infection with the corona virus.

कोरोना फैलने से रोकने जागरूकता अपेक्षित

समाज सेवी व्यक्ति, समाज सेवी समूह, स्वयं सेवी संस्थाएं (एनजीओ) कोरोना वायरस के संक्रमण से बचने के लिए डिजिटल जागरूकता अभियान चलाएं

SARS COVID -19 के कारण विश्व भर में महामारी का रूप ले चुकी कोरोना बीमारी से बचने के लिए स्वयं सेवी संस्थाएं डिजिटल जागरूकता अभियान चला सकती है. स्वयं सेवी संस्थाएं अपनी संस्था के फेसबुक पेज पर, व्हाट्सप्प ग्रुप्स में, अपने ब्लोग्स और वेबसाइट्स के जरिए जागरूकता अभियान चलाएं कि कोरोना के संक्रमण के बढ़ते ख़तरे को देखते हुए इससे बचाव हेतु सावधानी बरतने की ज़रूरत है ताकि इसे फैलने से रोका जा सके. इस पर जन जागरूकता की जा सकती है.

एनजीओ, समाज सेवी समूह और समाज सेवी आम लोगो को समझाएं कि संक्रमण से कैसे बचा जाए
उनको बताना है कि वे जब भी बाहर से जाकर आएं या बाहर से आए किसी व्यक्ति को या उसके किसी सामान या वस्तु को उसने छुआ है तो बीस सेकंड तक अपने हाथ साबुन से जरूर धोएं. क्योंकि कोरोना के वायरस खांसी और छींक से गिरने वाली बूंदों के ज़रिए फैलते हैं.
इसलिए जब भी बाहरी व्यक्ति या सामान के सम्पर्क में आएं तो हाथ अच्छी तरह से धो ले. खांसते या छींकते वक़्त अपना मुंह ढक लें. हाथ साफ़ नहीं हो तो आंखों, नाक और मुंह को छूने बचें. भीड़ भाड़ वाली जगह पर जाने से बचे. मज़बूरी में जाना ही पड़े तो अन्य व्यक्ति से एक मीटर की दूरी पर खड़े रहे.

कोरोना वायरस के लक्षण क्या है ?
अब तक मिली जानकारी के अनुसार संक्रमित व्यक्ति को कोरोनावायरस (कोवाइड-19) में पहले बुख़ार होता है. इसके बाद उसे सूखी खांसी आती है और फिर एक हफ़्ते बाद उसे सांस लेने में परेशानी होने लगती है. इन लक्षणों का हमेशा मतलब यह नहीं है कि उसको कोरोना वायरस का संक्रमण है. अब तक के कोरोना वायरस के गंभीर मामलों में निमोनिया, सांस लेने में बहुत ज़्यादा परेशानी, किडनी फ़ेल होना, हार्ट फेल होना और यहां तक कि मौत भी संक्रमित व्यक्ति की हुई है.
उम्रदराज़ बुजुर्ग लोग और जिन लोगों को पहले से ही कोई बीमारी है (जैसे अस्थमा, मधुमेह, दिल की बीमारी) उनके मामले में ख़तरा गंभीर हो सकता है. इटली और स्पेन में कोरोना वायरस संक्रमण से मरने वाले ज्यादातर लोग बुजुर्ग और मोटे लोग ही है. मरने वालो में कुछ लोग वे भी है जिन्हे डायबिटीज और हाइपरटेंशन की बीमारी थी.

कोरोना का संक्रमण फैलने से कैसे रोकें?
संक्रमण या संदेह के हर मामले में डॉक्टर की सलाह लेना आवश्यक है. फिर भी यहाँ जो जानकारी दी जा रही है उसका भी ध्यान रखें.
अगर कोई व्यक्ति संक्रमित इलाक़े से आया हैं या किसी संक्रमित व्यक्ति के संपर्क में रहा हैं तो उसको अकेले रहने की सलाह दी जा सकती है. वो व्यक्ति घर पर रहें ऑफ़िस, स्कूल या सार्वजनिक जगहों पर न जाएं. सार्वजनिक वाहन जैसे बस, ट्रेन, ऑटो या टैक्सी से यात्रा न करें घर में मेहमान न बुलाएं. अगर आप और परिवार या साथियों के साथ या अन्य लोगों के साथ रह रहे हैं तो ज़्यादा सतर्कता बरतें. अलग कमरे में रहें और साझा रसोई व बाथरूम को लगातार सेनिटाईज़ करें, साफ़ करें. 14 दिनों तक ऐसा करते रहें ताकि संक्रमण का ख़तरा कम हो सके. रोगी मास्क पहन कर रखे. मास्क को रोज़ाना बदले. मास्क पर हाथ न लगाए. मास्क इस तरह पहने कि नाक और मुंह अच्छे से ढँक जाये. क्योंकि संक्रमित व्यक्ति के नज़दीक जाने पर ये विषाणुयुक्त कण सांस के रास्ते आपके शरीर में प्रवेश कर सकते हैं.
अगर कोई किसी ऐसी जगह को छूता हैं, जहां ये कण गिरे हैं और फिर उसके बाद उसी हाथ से अपनी आंख, नाक या मुंह को छूते हैं तो ये कण उसके शरीर में पहुंचते हैं. ऐसे में खांसते और छींकते वक्त टिश्यू का इस्तेमाल करना, बिना हाथ धोए अपने चेहरे को न छूना और संक्रमित व्यक्ति के संपर्क में आने से बचना इस वायरस को फैलने से रोकने के लिए बेहद महत्वपूर्ण हैं. अगर आप स्वस्थ है फिर भी घर से बाहर या बाहर से घर आए हुए अन्य व्यक्ति से सोशल डिस्टेंसिंग रखे. सोशल डिस्टेंसिंग का मतलब होता है एक-दूसरे से दूर रहना ताकि संक्रमण के ख़तरे को कम किया जा सके.
समाज सेवी व्यक्ति, समाज सेवी समूह और स्वयं सेवी संस्थाएं (एनजीओ) ऊपर बताई गई जानकारी को कोरोना वायरस का संक्रमण रोकने के लिए काम में ले सकती है.


NITI Aayog invited CSOs, NGOs, NPOs and other development partners to create awareness among the people about Covid-19 and its consequences on the society and to follow the Social Distancing and other precautions to stop Corona virus. CEO NITI Aayog issued a Letter to NGOs regarding creating awareness about COVID-19 and its implications:-

Niti Ayog letter to NGOs about Corona


USEFUL LINKS:

Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Gov. of India
https://www.mohfw.gov.in/

WHO : COVID-19
https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019

CDC
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html

COVID-19 Global Tracker
https://coronavirus.thebaselab.com/

Hunger & Stay Centers Delhi – During Lockup Period

Food Hunger Centres and Night Stay Centrs in Delhi

दिल्ली में लॉक डाउन के दौरान दिल्ली सरकार द्वारा भोजन व रात्रि विश्राम हेतु व्यवस्था

Food Hunger Help Centres in Delhi managed and operated by Government of Delhi. The Food is free in the centres established by Delhi Government. If anybody need food then can get from the Food Centers.
Delhi Government has also established Night Stay Homes for night stay arrangements and rest in Delhi, for anyone who wants to stay in night can stay there. Free food and free stay facilities for the migrant labourers and other needy citizens is provided there.

दिल्ली में खाद्य भूख सहायता केंद्र दिल्ली सरकार द्वारा प्रबंधित और संचालित किए जा रहे हैं. दिल्ली सरकार द्वारा स्थापित केंद्रों में भोजन मुफ्त है. यदि किसी को भोजन की आवश्यकता है तो वह खाद्य केंद्रों से प्राप्त कर सकते है. दिल्ली सरकार ने रात्रि विश्राम स्थल बनाकर  दिल्ली में रात्रि विश्राम के लिए भी व्यवस्था की है, जो रुकना चाहे रात्रि विश्राम स्थल में रुक सकते हैं. दिल्ली में प्रवासी श्रमिकों, दिल्ली में रहने वाले श्रमिकों  व अन्य जरुरतमंदो के लिए फ्री में भोजन व आवास की यहाँ व्यवस्था है.

Delhi Governement Food Centres in Delhi

FOOD HUNGER HELP CENTERS DELHI

 

Background of Right to Information (RTI)

Background of Right to Information (RTI) – Role of NGO to Implement the Law of RTI

The concept of a citizen’s Right To Information begins with the acknowledgment that citizens ought to be the true masters of a democracy. In India, since the government is of, for, and by the people, and is funded almost entirely by the taxes paid by the citizens, it is easy to see how the citizens are the root of the system of governance. However, these supposed “masters” of the country often had little or no access to essential information about the governance of their own country! It was to remedy this fundamental problem that the Right To Information Act was passed by the parliament.

The Right To Information is a fundamental right in every sense of the word because it is absolutely essential to the healthy functioning of a modern democracy since an uninformed citizen cannot possibly be expected to be a good citizen. Moreover, though, the Right To Information Act opens the doors to exposing all sorts of government inefficiency, malaise, corruption, and inadequacy. While the average citizen often complains about the present state of affairs of the country, he/she also usually lacks the understanding to make things right. That is how the Right To Information Act serves to empower even the weakest citizen to participate in their own governance.

The Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) spearheaded the right to information movement in Rajasthan – and subsequently, throughout India. MKSS famously used the right to information as tool to draw attention to the underpayment of daily wage earners and farmers on government projects, and more generally, to expose corruption in government expenditure. Initially, MKSS lobbied government to obtain information such as muster rolls (employment and payment records) and bills and vouchers relating to purchase and transportation of materials. This information was then crosschecked at Jan Sunwais (public hearings) against actual testimonies of workers. The public hearings were incredibly successful in drawing attention to corruption and exposing leakages in the system. They were particularly significant because of their use of hard documentary evidence to support the claims of villagers.

Over time, the media and the government paid increasing attention to the results of the Jan Sunwais. Consequently, greater attention was focused on the importance of the right to information as a means for increasing transparency and accountability, as well as empowering poor people. Although MKSS was able to obtain some information from Government during the early 1990s, it was not easy. The difficulties experienced by MKSS in trying to access information reinforced the importance of a comprehensive right to information law for Rajasthan.

On 5 April 1995, the Chief Minister of Rajasthan announced in the Legislative Assembly that his Government would be the first in the country to provide access to information to citizens on all local developmental works. However, no action was taken for months. Exactly a year later on 6 April 1996, MKSS started an indefinite Dharna (protest demonstration) in Bewar town. Their immediate demand was that the State Government pass Executive Orders to provide a limited right to information in relation to local development expenditure. The government responded by issuing Orders to inspect relevant documents on payment of fees. However, the Order was rejected by civil society as ineffective because it did not allow taking photocopies of documents.

On 6 May 1996, one month later, the Dharna was extended to Jaipur, the state capital. The Dharna was strongly supported by the people of the State. On 14 May 1996, the Government responded, announcing the establishment of a committee to look into the practical aspects of implementing right to information within two months. In response, MKSS called off the Dharna. Unfortunately, Government interest again lapsed, such that in May 1997 another series of Dharnas commenced, which continued for 52 long days. At the end of this time, the Government announced that the Government had already notified the right to receive photocopies relating to local level government functions six months earlier! Civil society was taken by surprise – through all their discussions with Government it was the first time they had been told about the order providing access to information to people.

In 1998, during the State elections the Opposition Party promised in its election manifesto to enact a law on right to information if it came to power. Following their election, the Party appointed a committee of bureaucrats, headed by Mr P.N. Bhandari, a Secretary of the Rajasthan Government, to draft a bill on the right to information. As the Committee was comprised only bureaucrats, stong objections were raised by civil society organisations, following which the members of MKSS and National Campaign for Peoples Right to Information were invited to assist in drafting the bill.

MKSS and NCPRI conducted a host of consultations in each divisional headquarters of the State. Drawing on the input from these consultations, a draft civil society Right to Information Bill was prepared, which was then submitted to the Committee. The Committee drew on the citizens draft Bill for its recommendations, but refused to accept the Bill in toto.

 

Role of NGO in RTI

What NGO can play and perform its role in Tight to Information.

Right to information Act, 2005 and the Role of NGOs, CSOs etc.

 Role of NGOs, CSOs etc.:

Participation in governance is at the heart of any successful democracy. As citizens, we need to participate not only at the time of elections but on a day-to-day basis – when decisions on policy, laws and schemes are being made and projects and activities are being implemented. Public involvement not only enhances the quality of governance but also promotes transparency and accountability in government functioning. But in reality how can citizens take part in governance? How can the public understand how decisions are being made? How can ordinary people find out how tax money is being spent or if public schemes are being properly run or whether the government is acting honestly and fairly when it makes decisions? How can government servants be made answerable to the public they are supposed to serve?

One way of participating is by exercising the right to access information from bodies which spend public money or perform public services. Following the enactment of the Right to Information Act 2005 (RTI Act) in May 2005, all citizens of India now have the RIGHT to access information. The RTI Act recognises that in a democracy like India, all information held by government ultimately belongs to the people. Making information available to citizens is simply a part of normal government functioning because the public have a right to know what public officials do with their money and in their name.

What is Social Audit?

Social Audit is an independent and participatory evaluation of the performance of a public agency or a programme or scheme. It is an instrument of social accountability whereby an in-depth scrutiny and analysis of working of a public authority vis-à-vis its social responsibility can be undertaken. It also enables the Civil Society to assess whether a public authority lives up to the shared values and objectives it is committed to. It provides an assessment of the impact of a public authority’s non-financial objectives through systematic and regular monitoring based on the views of its stakeholders.

Benefits of Social Audit

The primary benefits of Social Audit are:

  1. Complete transparency: In the process of administration and decision-making, Social Audit ensures an obligation on part of the Government to provide full access to all relevant information.
  2. Rights Based Entitlement: Social Audit propagates rights-based entitlements for all the affected persons (and not just their representatives) to participate in the process of decision making and validation.
  3. Informed Consent: Social Audit provides for the right of the affected persons to give informed consent, as a group or as individuals, as appropriate.
  4. Immediate Answerability: Social Audit enables swift and prompt response by the elected representatives and Government functionaries, on their relevant actions or inactions, to the concerned
  5. Speedy Redressal of Grievances: Social Audit ensures speedy redressal of grievances of the affected people by the public

Using the RTI Act, NGOs and CSOs, therefore, can facilitate social audits of government processes, activities, programmes, schemes etc., and help improve public service delivery and the efficacy and accountability of public officials. They can use the RTI Act to inspect various processes, programmes and schemes of any public authority. They can even examine the works undertaken by any Government Department at any stage and draw samples of materials that are in use. NGOs and CSOs can also collect and verify records, documents and samples of particular works undertaken by the Government. The following sections help illustrate how RTI can be used to access information and enable social audit of processes, programmes and schemes so as to improve public service delivery and enhance accountability of public officials. However, it needs to be noted that the illustrations given below are selective and are meant for guiding NGOs and CSOs to access specific information that could be used to undertake Social Audits.

To play an integral part in bringing about a practical regime transparent and accountable in governance, NGOs and CSOs may undertake the following:

  1. First, to gather information and undertake research that forms the basis of campaign that civil society organisations
  2. Second, NGOs and CSOs must actually use the legislation – especially in the early days. And requesters must be assertive demanding good service under the law. The experience of freedom of information the world over tells us that the early few years are crucial in determining habits – on both demand and supply sides. After that, systems are created, and norms and habits are established.
  1. Thirdly, they must encourage Government towards a “right to know” approach in other words, to encourage government to automatically publish the majority of its
  2. Fourthly, they will need to be vigilant to keep track of exemptions, time delays, updating of publication suo motu by authorities to ensure that the state does not negate the positive impact of RTI.
  3. Fifth, CSOs will need to find both champions – in government and in the private sector – and strategic partners, from the specialist civil society sectors, the media
  4. Finally, CSOs will need to work together, to promote better and more effective use of the Act by the

The greatest challenge does not lie in making the legislation work and to penetrate age-old walls of secrecy, but in accurately identifying the information that the different communities need in order to bring about social and economic development. NGOs and CSOs must then act as a bridge to elicit information, using the new law that will serve the interests of the weak and the poor, because inequality of access to information reflects a deeper inequality of power. If civil society is active, then the RTI Act will be a useful instrument in the fight for social justice.

In realising the objectives of the RTI Act, the role of NGOs and CSOs assumes considerable importance. As an important actor in the governance process and as a bridge between the community and public agencies, NGOs and CSOs can not only play an important role in monitoring public service delivery by invoking provisions under the RTI Act but also in generating awareness and building capacity among the community on RTI.

Role of Media in RTI:

Information is power and is regarded as the oxygen of democracy. If people do not know what is happening in their society, if the actions of those who rule them are hidden, then they cannot take a

meaningful part in the affairs of the society. Freedom of expression, free dissemination of ideas and access to information are vital to the functioning of a democratic government. Information is crucial for a vibrant democracy and good governance as it reflects and captures Government activities and processes. Access to information not only facilitates active participation of the people in the democratic governance process, but also promotes openness, transparency and accountability in administration. ‘Right to Information’ (RTI), the right of every citizen to access information held by or under the control of public authorities, can thus be an effective tool for ushering in good governance.

Transparency means that decisions are taken openly and enforced as per rules and regulations. It requires that information is freely available and directly accessible to those who will be affected by such decisions and their enforcement. It also means that enough information is provided to all the stakeholders in easily understandable forms and media to enable their meaningful participation in decision making processes. Accountability means that public institutions and functionaries are answerable to the people and to their institutional stakeholders. Accountability cannot be enforced without a regime of transparency.

A direct relationship exists between right to Information, informed citizenry and good governance. The Right to Information provides citizens the opportunity of being informed of what the Government does for them, why and how it does it. Public participation in Government, respect for the rule of law, freedom of expression and association, transparency and accountability, responsiveness, equity and inclusiveness, effectiveness, efficiency, accountability, strategic vision and consensus- orientation, legitimacy of Government, and the like, which are the core values of good governance, can be realised only if the right to information is implemented in the right spirit. Right to information is the hallmark of good governance.

The media can make a real difference to the lives of poor and disadvantaged people by:making people more aware of their rights and entitlements;

  • enabling people to have access to government programmes, schemes and benefits;
  • making people more aware of political issues and options and helping to stimulate debate;
  • educating the public on social, economic and environmental issues;
  • drawing attention to institutional failings – corruption, fraud, waste, inefficiency, cronyism, nepotism, abuse of power and the like;
  • fostering exchange of best practices, knowledge resources, access to better technology, and to better choices;
  • creating pressure for improved government performance, accountability and quality, for example in service delivery; and
  • providing a discursive space for citizens to dialogue with other actors in the governance process.

The three main areas through which the media can make a significant impact on development and poverty reduction are:

  • Empowerment

Media has a definite role to play in the empowerment of citizens. It gives voice to the needs and aspirations of the people and provides them access to relevant information. When people lack a voice in the public arena, or access to information on issues that affect their lives, and if their concerns are not reasonably reflected in the public domain, their capacity to participate in democratic processes is undermined.

Media, in all its varied forms, has opened up the potential for new forms of participation. The access to information and accessibility of information has increased with growth of print and electronic media and the Internet. Thus, the vulnerable and marginalized sections of the society such as the poor, women, weaker sections and socially disadvantaged are also using the media to make their voices heard.

  • Social Awareness & Action

The media can be effective in not only preserving freedom but also extending it. The news media plays a decisive role in establishing a discursive space for public deliberations over social issues. The formative influence of the media on public attitudes, thoughts and perceptions is fundamental to the process of citizen engagement in public dialogue. Giving a voice to the poor also entails giving the poor people adequate opportunities to take initiatives for overcoming their problems. The media, through its role in shaping public awareness and action, can be a critical factor in facilitating sustainable development and poverty reduction.

  • Good Governance

Good governance is recognized as central to poverty eradication, and a free media is a necessary condition for good governance. As an information conduit between corporations, government, and the populace, the media acts as a watchdog against government malfeasance, while at the same time fostering greater transparency and accountability. The media monitors public service delivery and reports on key issues to the public at large, and in this process exerts pressure on public service providers. By highlighting institutional failings to guard against and institutional successes for replication, the media creates the right framework of incentives for good governance.

  • Catalyzing Effective Implementation of the Act
  • Providing Information to the Citizens and Building Awareness on the Act:
  • Giving Voice to the Citizens
  • Acting as a Watchdog on behalf of the Citizens
  • Reporting Social Audit

The following section provides cues for the media to use the RTI Act in discharging the following roles:

  • In monitoring implementation of the Act
  • In reporting on the effectiveness & efficiency of public service delivery
  • In highlighting corruption and fraud related issues
  • In highlighting citizen grievances
  • In highlighting significant cases or efforts made by organisations/individuals on

However, it needs to be noted that the suggested areas are selective and are provided only to guide the media to effectively use the RTI Act provisions.

Some suggestive areas:

Primary Health Services subject to exemptions under section 8(1)

  • Attendance of medical officer and other staff in the PHC
  • Field visits of the PHC staff
  • Supervisory visits undertaken by other health officials
  • Stock registers of medicines with dates of procurement, expiry dates of medicines
  • Number of outpatients treated
  • Maintenance of safety pits in the centre
  • Number of surgeries conducted and their success rate
  • Immunisation achieved as against the Action Plan
  • Inspection of vaccines in the cold chain (refrigerators)
  • Inspection of safety measures followed by the staff in regular medical treatment
  • Maintenance of counterfoils on immunizations
  • Inspection of other relevant registers
  • Implementation of Citizen’s Charter

Primary Education subject to exemptions under section 8(1)

  • Attendance of teachers (Teacher Attendance Registers)
  • Attendance of students (Pupil Attendance Registers)
  • Teaching standards in the schools (Curriculum and daily lessons)
  • Enrolment and drop-out rate of students (boys/girls)
  • Academic performance of schools
  • Implementation of Mid-Day Meal Programme
  • Infrastructure standards in the schools (Class rooms, black boards, teaching aids, equipments, toilets – general and girls etc.)

Land Records

  • Land title (Private ownership)
  • Land allotted to institutions
  • Details of lands under Government/trusts/temples/ department authorities
  • Agriculture land records
  • Forest land records
  • Lands under public domain
  • Details of persons who are in illegal possession of land and their status
  • Lands acquired for rehabilitating communities/affected people
  • Lands assigned to weaker sections, their development and use

Environmental Protection

  • Details of forest and natural resources, endangered species
  • Levels of environmental pollution
  • Records relating to public safety and threshold levels of pollution
  • Inspection of industrial units and trades that are potentially environment sensitive
  • Environmental clearances

Public Works

  • Contractual procedure
  • Basis for decision to undertake this work
  • Contract clauses for work monitoring & completion
  • Status of work
  • Work monitoring
  • Copy of sketch of each work
  • Inspection of work
  • Samples of materials used in work undertaken
  • Name of the work
  • Work Order No
  • Name of contractor
  • Date of commencement
  • Date of completion
  • Rate at which work awarded
  • Sanctioned amount
  • Amount paid so far
  • Head of account
  • Copy of estimate of each work
  • Design specifications/sketches
  • Measurement books including record entries and abstract entries
  • Check measurement extracts
  • Quality control/third party inspection reports

Use of MP/MLA Local Area Development Scheme Funds

  1. Details of all the works awarded during the year out of the MP/MLA Constituency Development Fund:
    • Name of work
    • Brief Description of work
    • Amount sanctioned
    • Name of agency
    • Date of sanction
    • Date of work order
    • Date of commencement
    • Date of completion
    • Rate at which work awarded
    • Amount paid
  2. How much money was allotted to him during the current year and how much has been carried over from previous years?
  3. Out of the above, projects worth how much money have already been sanctioned?
  4. How many projects worth how much money are awaiting sanction?
  5. How much balance is left in the MP’s/MLA’s account?

Role: Highlight Corruption – related Issues

  • Details of complaints of corruption received and the nature of allegations against each one of them subject to exemptions under section
  • Copies of the complaints
  • List of complaints that were closed without any investigation and
  • List of complaints closed after investigation and copies of enquiry reports on the basis of which the complaints were closed.
  • Cases where penal action has been initiated and details of penal action
  • Cases where criminal complaints have been filed and their Cases that are pending and expected timeline for investigation to be completed

Role: Highlight Citizen Grievances

  • List of all the grievances received from the public during the year or quarter and copies of the grievances.
  • Action taken on each grievance
  • Time limits for each grievance to be resolved as per rules/Citizen’s Charter
  • Penalty prescribed against the officials if they do not adhere to these time limits
  • Reasons for delay in resolution of the grievances Action taken against the officials in each case of delay

Role: Highlight significant Cases or Efforts made by Organisations, RTI Champions & Citizens

  • Publicity stories on cases where citizens managed to access information revealing public inefficiency or corruption
  • Publicity stories on successful appeals to Information Commission
  • Publicity stories on cases where information was wrongly withheld by PIOs
  • Publicity stories on specific decisions by Information
  • Profiles of organizations promoting RTI
  • Personality stories on Information Commissioners, prominent personalities and activists involved in the RTI campaign
  • Write-ups on Right to Information in general
  • Significant initiatives undertaken by civil society organizations and community based organizations
  • Editorials
  • Social Audit Case Studies

Other suggestive areas:

  1. National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme
  2. Public Distribution System (PDS)
  3. Integrated Child Development (ICDS)
  4. Sanitation Services in a Particular Area
  5. Repair and Maintenance of Roads
  6. Corruption cases being handled by the Government
  7. Public grievances being handled by the Government etc.

(Source: http://ati.nagaland.gov.in)

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