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Archive for June, 2011

India ‘mystery illness’ kills 28 children in Bihar

At least 28 children in India’s Bihar state have died in the past week from an unidentified illness, officials say.

Officials said that all of the children were between two and eight years. They died in Muzaffarpur town, 80kms (50 miles) from the state capital, Patna.

Bihar Health Minister Ashwani Choubey told the BBC that a team of doctors from Delhi is visiting Muzaffarpur on Tuesday to diagnose the disease.

Local doctors say the symptoms are similar to Japanese encephalitis.

But, they say, an important symptom of Japanese encephalitis is a stiffening of the neck, which is absent from the Bihar cases.

On Sunday, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar told reporters that the disease had not been identified yet.

“Without identifying the disease how can we say what is killing the children there? The local doctors are giving treatment only on the basis of symptoms,” he said.

Officials said blood samples of some of the ill children have been sent to the National Institute of Virology in Pune and National Institute of Communicable Diseases in Delhi for test and identification.

Meanwhile, local TV channels say a number of sick children are being admitted to hospitals across northern Bihar.


“There is no end to child slavery”

KANPUR: Twelve-year-old Mahesh (name changed) had no idea of what was in store for him when he landed at the Kanpur Central railway station from a small town in Jharkhand. He was with his `mama’ (uncle). The latter took him to a roadside `dhaba’ where the owner promised him a good salary and perks for some hours of work. However, all that the child got was round-the-clock slavery and sound thrashings.

Mahesh’s story, who is now a part of the Child Helpline, repeats itself in restaurants, industrial units, motor garage, hotels and other big and small units. A story that speaks of the cruelty minors are put through despite legislations against child labour.

In October 2006, a nation-wide ban on children below 14 working as domestic help came into force under the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986. Years later, nothing seems to have changed. A rampant survey by TOI shows that despite the ban, many underage children are still facing exploitation at tea stalls, car workshops, canteens or dhabas all over the Industrial City.

A survey by Child Helpline (1098) also estimates that more than 30,000 children are working as labourers and domestic helpers in the city. Statistics show that an organisation, that was part of the Child Helpline, rescued and rehabilitated 425 children in the past three years. The children, mostly in the age group of 10-14, were rescued from restaurants, shops and homes. Many were also rehabilitated, especially those who were brought from smaller towns of eastern UP and Bihar.

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Get Your Tickets Now for Paper Kite’s Fundraiser on July 6, 2011

The Paper Kite Foundation in conjunction with YUVA-The South Asian Student Society of SFU is proud to host a fundraising dinner buffet at Gulberg Fine Cuisine Restaurant on Wednesday, July 6th 2011 from 6pm to 9pm. Gulberg Fine Cuisine offers a delicious variety of Indian and Pakistani dishes that will surely please any palate.

Tickets for the event will be sold at $20 a piece with 50% of the funds raised going to Paper Kite Children’s Foundation. Gulberg Fine Cuisine is located on 15950 Fraser Hwy, Unit 509, Surrey BC.

Come join us for an evening of good food and good people that will help Paper Kite raise much needed funds for the orphanages in Bihar, India. Please contact any of the YUVA executives listed below or Paper Kite’s Executive Director Abhishaek Rawal to arrange for delivery/pickup of your tickets.

Paper Kite Executive Director

Abhishaek Rawal: 604 219 9753

YUVA Executives:

Rushd Khan: 778 990 1950

Fizza Aijaz: 604 375 9634

Aayla Umar: 778 317 8336

Sarah Siddiqui: 778 322 9467


Girls sweep Bihar madrassa board results

*The following article demonstrates that when given equal opportunities, girls can excel and in this case, even surpass boys in academic achievements. Thus, it is so important to invest in the learning opportunity of girls especially in impoverished areas such as Bihar.

Patna: Girls have created history by securing top ranks in Class 10 examination conducted by the Bihar Madrassa Education Board, officials here said.

Nasra Khatoon, of Dakhi village of Madhubani district, has secured the first rank in Class 10 (Fauquania)level examination and Umme Eman of Baunsi village of the same district has bagged the second rank, a board official said after the results were declared on Wednesday.

Maulana Ajaj Ahmad, chairman of the Madrassa Education Board of Bihar, told IANS here that these girls have made a new beginning.

“They have proved that girls can also top examinations conducted by the madrassa board like the CBSE, ICSE and the Bihar State Examination Board,” he said.

Girls studying in madrassas have taken the lead not only in the Class 10 level (Fauquania) but also in other examination conducted by the madrassa board.

In the Fauquania exam, 66,988 girls passed whereas the figure for boys stood at 43,233. Similarly, in Maulavi exam (Class 12 level), more girls — 37,391 — passed as compared to 33,332 boys.

“Girls have outperformed boys in the Class 10 examination of the madrassa board,” Ahmad said, adding that this year, of the 27 students who shared the top ten ranks in Fauquania examination, 21 were girls.

In the Madrassa board exams, girls have been doing better than boys for the last few years, he added.

Bihar has over 4,000 madrassas, including over 1,118 state-run Islamic schools. There are 2,459 unaided madrassas and hundreds of others operating at different places.

According to the first ever status paper brought out by the Bihar State Madrassa Education Board, there are only 32 madrassas for girls under the government-aided category and 576 in the unaided category. Bihar Muslim women have a low literacy rate of 31.5 percent only.


India’s census reveals a glaring gap: 914 girls for every 1000 boys

India’s census reveals a country obsessed by boys and sex-selection laws that no one will enforce. Continuing female foeticide explains why the child sex ratio is getting worse

In the world’s largest democracy a massive crisis of missing girls is unfolding, according to India’s 2011 census. The latest census shows that the gap between the number of girls per 1,000 boys up to the age of six has widened to 914, a decrease from 927 a decade ago, at the 2001 census. In a country where a large part of the population finds it hard to get access to toilets and clean drinking water, access to illegal foetal sex-selection procedures seems easier.

The girl child in India is falling prey to the profit-driven ultrasound industry and doctors who commit foeticide without compunction. The child sex ratio is emblematic of the status of women in the country.

More than a dozen female foetuses were found dumped in a city in eastern Bihar state recently, days before the damning child sex ratio was revealed. Although there has been a fall in the rate of population growth (pdf), awareness of family size is accompanied by a greater preference for boys – a trend seen across class and rural-urban divides.

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