Wine, champagne, cider and poiré: A peek into French wine culture

François Le Cardinal with his favorite liquor. Image- Shuchita Jha

Shuchita Jha

Welcome to the fourth episode of French Tales from Ground Tales. We have with us our new guest, Mr. François Le Cardinal, a French professor, and also an amateur connoisseur of wine and liquor. He will enlighten us today about the different kinds of wine or cider and whiskeys that are found in France along with champagne, which I guess most of you know, and how they are made, what is his favorite? How did he have an interest in becoming an amateur connoisseur and some more things that we don’t generally know about wine because we just concentrate on Bordeaux and champagne? We are going to learn a lot more about the different regions that produce other kinds of wines and deciders which are less known but are tastier. And this I say, after having tasted from François collection, let us hear from the master himself.

Invasion of Normandy beach during WW-II, D-day beaches, people and anecdotes of war

By Shuchita Jha

Welcome to the third episode of French tales. Today with us we have a very special guest, Mr. Laurent Guerin who has a very deep knowledge of the Normandy beach invasions, the lives of the people, and how they turned around with the invasion. He also interviewed and met the Higgins family, who actually supplied the boat to Europe, from America for this special invasion that was held in 1944. He owns a very cute place on the Omaha Beach, which trains people in sports like kayaking, surfing, parasailing, waterboarding, and etc. And he has been running this place since the last 25 years, and has held around 5000 sessions in the past 10 years. So right now, the place is not really open because of the COVID restrictions. But hopefully, when the restrictions are lifted, it will be back to its original life and a buzz that always surrounds the beach, especially in summers. So today, we will hear from Mr. Laurent Guerin his experiences of meeting people and what they have shared with him through these ages. Welcome to our show.

No ego, just love… A reckless rockstar turns over a new leaf with Buddhism

Gambini who “partied” hard in his youth has given up alcohol for the past 25 years. A practicing Buddhist, he now embraces life with the “live and let live” principal, while enchanting the audience with his music.

 Sylvian Gambini : Turning over a new leaf by embracing Buddhism. Ground Tales Podcast
Sylvian Gambini . Image- Shuchita Jha/Ground Tales

 When I started, I had a big, big ego. When I was younger, I wanted what I used to play in a heavy metal band and touring in England. And it was not Buddhism at all, because it was like cigarettes, alcohols, drugs, you know, rock and roll stuff. Party every day.

Sylvian Gambini 
Podcast

Shuchita  0:00  
 Hello, everybody, this is Shuchita. Today we’ll start with our first episode of the series French Tales. And with us today we have Mr. Sylvian Gambini, a professional musician who has been practicing Buddhism for the past 20 years in France. He has also adopted vegetarianism as a way of life, and follows the principles of Buddhism with the core of his heart. Today, we will interact with him and know what sparked his interest in Buddhism. And what led him to be such a great follower of the sect, which is very rarely found in France. He was the first Buddhist I met in France. And I have also been inspired by him. So let’s talk about him and come to know his journey. So, hi, Sylvian

Sylvian Gambini  0:52  
Hello.

Shuchita  0:53  
So would you like to tell us how did you come in touch with Buddhism when you were younger?

Sylvian Gambini  1:02  
 Well, actually, as I told you, when I was really young, when I was hearing somebody talking about Buddhism, when I could hear Buddhism as a subject, I always thought I was going to get interested in Buddhism later, but I was convinced it was something for later, I was not ready for it. I didn’t know what it talked about.

Shuchita  1:24  
Okay

Sylvian Gambini  1:25  
Except maybe, that it’s something that represents respect and peace and all this kind of stuff that we all quite know.

Shuchita  1:35  
Yeah

Sylvian Gambini  1:35  
And then when I was like, 30 years old, I started to read books about Buddhism. You probably know that there are quite different kinds of Buddhism, like Theravada, Buddhism, like Hinayana, like all these kind of Buddhism. So the first books I read about Buddhism didn’t interest me at all. I thought, Yeah, right. I’ve read this before. I’ve seen this before. I’m not so interested. And one day, one day, I had this book from about Walpola Rahula. He is a monk from Sri Lanka. This book was written in 1961. So it’s quite old, but it’s reference. And this is a monk who practices, the Theravada Buddhism, the old Buddhism that the Buddha used to practice

Shuchita Jha  1:49  
like the oldest Buddhism..

Sylvian Gambini  2:30  
absolutely. The original Buddhism. Theravada actually, can mean Buddhism of the ancients.

 Shuchita Jha 2:36  
Okay.

Sylvian Gambini  2:38  
And when I read this book, first, I learned that I was a Buddhist, because I was following the five principles, not a, like Buddhist monk, I mean, a Buddhist, that is not a monk. Real life Buddhists. I want to tell you the principles quickly. It’s like, not taking life not hurting, not taking things from people not stealing, like not lying, not drinking alcohol, taking drugs. And finally, about you being honest to your wife and not going (cheating) what was the term? Fidelity.Absolutely yeah. So I was following all these precepts. Unconsciously. I didn’t know it was something that has to do with Buddhism. I’m reading this book. I felt like I could have read every word Well, not really, because it took me far away. And I learned things I didn’t know. But I thought, alright, this is home. You know what I mean? Right, right. I know this, this talks to me, this is exactly the way I can see life.

Unknown Speaker  3:48  
Right? Is that is that? You know, were you a vegetarian before you started, before or when came to know that you were a Buddhist, or afterwards,

Sylvian Gambini  3:56  
yes, I was a vegetarian before because before getting interest in Buddhism, I just couldn’t kill any animal. Like even a mosquito that is on your arm, I can’t kill it, just like this. It’s not intellectual kind of stuff. It’s just I feel if I can, last time I killed it. I thought about it for three days, just to myself. Why did I do this, that he didn’t deserve to die, and he’s not going to kill me. So there was no reason for this. And one day, a friend of mine just killed his sheep because he wanted to eat it. And I told him, how could you do such a thing? And he told me, well, you eat sheep. I said, Yes. He said, Well, if you eat it, you should be able to kill it. And this this meant to me and I, I could understand if it was right. I mean, it’s hypocrisy. To say I eat but I don’t want it to hurt it. But if you eat when you pay for the meat, you pay the guy to kill it. Yes. So, to be honest. And it made sense. I thought, Yes, that’s true. So I became a vegetarian and I like it. I appreciate it.

Shuchita 5:10  
Right. So like, you also once told me that You don’t try to dominate vegetarianism on other people. That is something that many vegetarians try to do. Oh, yes.
Sylvian Gambini  5:26  
Yeah, yeah. It’s funny, because I can see many vegetarians, quite angry. And they feel anger towards people that eat meats. I mean, I have nothing against people eating meat, everybody is made his own way. And, I mean, if you see the nature, eating meat is quite normal. I mean, this is an equilibrium. So it’s just I feel like I don’t want to eat meat. I feel very well with this. But I will never try to convince someone not to eat meat because he knows what he wants to do on he, I mean, killing an animal to eat it is quite normal. So I have no problem with this. I just don’t do it.

Shuchita  6:08  
Okay, so like with the principles of Buddhism, do you try to tell your kids about it also?

Sylvian Gambini  6:15  
Well, even the simple things like eat properly, they don’t do it. So I don’t tell them anything. quite complicated. I think maybe they can see the way I behave on what I do. For example, I have engagements with lacco, which is a Association this thing to help people this week, I’ll be free days I’ll be working has a benevolent. Yeah, volunteer, volunteer, to drive some people- refugees and driving some refugees. There is a for example a in Arromanches to help them to have some papers and  tomorrow I’ll be going to a place where you put old people so to help the visitors and to organize this event. I’ll donate my blood on Wednesday, in Bayeux  there is a blood collect. So my kids see what I’m doing. And I think this is much better than telling them, absolutely. 
Sylvian Gambini  7:23  
an example. Yeah, in France, there is a sentence we used to say, “Ne fais pas ce que je te dis ce que je fais.” Don’t do what I tell you to do, do what I’m doing.

Shuchita  7:34  
Right. Right. That’s wonderful. I mean, that’s like the basic principle of parenting, that should be, because if you don’t practice then it will not have an impact.

Sylvian Gambini  7:44  
They’re intelligent, they see if you are correct or not. If you don’t behave in a logical way, they will notice it. This guy is about something wrong.

Shuchita  7:56  
Right, right. Okay, and then, one more question. Let’s also talk about your journey in music and how, you know, while touring to so many different places, how easy or difficult was it for you to, you know, be a vegetarian, and also be like a Buddhist.

Sylvian Gambini  8:16  
So I never clashed with some of the bandmates, they are the people you know, because being a Buddhist is quite simple and just behave normally. It’s just the way you see life. And, of course, I think a real Buddhist has not hate and anger, and is really tolerant. So this helps. I mean, I’m really thankful about the fact that I can do what I like to do music, I love my passion, I get money from it. So I’m so thankful about this. So I have this attitude, and I’m really happy. And I like to go playing and I feel really, really light, you know, on. I like everything in my job and meeting people is something I like, listening to people in pubs or places bars, I like to listen to the people’s problem. I’ve always liked it. I’m interested, you know, it’s funny. So it’s not a problem at being Buddhist. Being vegetarian can be a problem, especially in France, because they don’t really know what it is. And most of the time they forget to give you some proteins. So we will have a simple plate and they think that vegetarian doesn’t eat much. I don’t know why. They think so. Most of the time when I say I’m a vegetarian, I have like a little plate with a little bit of salad and a little bit of bread and that’s it. I don’t know what I’m gonna do with this. I’m on stage for three hours. I will be carrying many heavy loads of amplifier on the PA for an hour and I will go to bed at four o’clock in the morning. I can’t make it with a little plate of salad. It’s impossible so well. Now maybe I don’t say I’m vegetarian, no more. I just take the meat off. Okay. I’ll have the other tgingsy, all right, yeah…. 

Shuchita 10:03

Of course. I mean, you have to feed yourself also.

Sylvian Gambini  10:06  
Yeah, yeah. I give the meat to my friends. Sometimes they give me some vegetables and cheese and say, Oh yeah, let’s make an exchange.

Shuchita  10:13  
That’s a good, that’s a good technique so that at least you have the other things. Absolutely. But being Buddhist..

Sylvian Gambini  10:19  
Buddhist, I mean, it’s so easy to me because it’s just, there’s no ego, for example, a Buddhist is working a lot on the ego stuff. Theory of anattā tells you that ego just doesn’t exist. It’s a construction of your mind. And I quite believe in the more and more I believe in this, I can feel it every day. I can see it through elements, things. And in the music, there’s a big thing about ego. You know, it’s like, I want to be the leader. I want to be the one that’s got the most success and what if I wasn’t good was this, you know, like fighting for girls, small mattering things is ego. So, if you are reducing your ego, I’m starting to see there no ego, you don’t fight for nothing (anything). You are just thankful to be doing what you like to do. So it’s really easier, we will never argue on we never have problems with my bandmates because I let them decide quite most of the things and they do it well. I respect that.

Shuchita  11:20  
Did you change the things about you that you didn’t like? I mean, is this like a change that you observe in yourself? Or were you like that from the starting?

Sylvian Gambini  11:27  
No, I was not like that. When I started, I had a big, big ego. When I was younger, I wanted what I used to play in a heavy metal band and touring in England. And it was not Buddhism at all, because it was like cigarettes, alcohols, drugs, you know, rock and roll stuff. Party every day. So no, no, no. But it was interesting, because I could see what it was made of the real texture of all this…. that it is all fake. Actually, it’s all fake. It’s it’s not…. It’s not peaceful stuff, you’re always kind of trying to fit you’re always kind of frustrated. You’re always trying to be what you are not. At the end. You are the loser. When you behave like this. That’s what I know today. So it was great to experiment.

Shuchita 12:14  
Right? And it was like a very major lifestyle change for you. Because once you told me or not had alcohol for 25 years….

Sylvian Gambini  12:21  
Yes, absolutely. Yeah, I was behaving stupidly, you know, like putting my my life in danger. Well, I’m really thankful to that I didn’t die during this period. Because, believe me, I did really, really crazy things. Like walking on roofs and driving cars really fast being stupid….

Shuchita  12:41  
like, very risky.

Sylvian Gambini  12:42  
Yeah, yeah, it was. People with me, we’re taking risk, too. And so if I had died….. we were talking yesterday about it yesterday that life could change in a second. You know, maybe at this time, if I had just a little accident, or for a second just I could have killed like three people or four people with me. I know I will be or an alcoholic today. Or maybe dead or crazy or Well, you can’t live with this. Such a crazy thing…. So I’m really thankful about it. I was a lucky guy, I was really lucky guy. Yeah, I know.

Shuchita  13:14  
So, apart from the book that you read the first book that you read, what are more books have you read about Buddhism?

Sylvian Gambini  13:20  
Oh, so many so many books. Theravada Buddhism, Buddhism books, but unfortunately, this guy,  Walpola Rahula wrote only one book. Well, he did some articles in other magazines,l could get, but many things from Theravada Buddhism, like agents of other (branches of Buddhism) or agents of Chan (a branch of Buddhism) ,or many or whatever they call ….mmm.. the School of the forest. Okay. Yeah, it’s kind of Buddhism. So simple. You know, like, just living in the forest and being alone.
Shuchita  13:55  
I like the eat from the trees that grow. Just like existing with nature. Yeah. And harmony in harmony?
Sylvian Gambini : Absolutely. 
Shuchita : Are there a lot of people in France who practice Buddhism? 
Sylvian Gambini : No
Sylvian Gambini  14:09  
Actually, when I was really interested in the  monasteries, I tried to find a Buddhist monastery. So you have some Buddhist monastery in France. But there are zero Theravada Buddhist monastery, and I visited some in England that are really, really working well. And they really do follow the principles of Theravada Buddhism, they get no money they possess nothing. So can be like, you know, on a really peaceful happy people. I mean, a Buddhist is quite happy. Yes.
Shuchita  14:42  
content with yourself.

Sylvian Gambini  14:44  
Yeah, yeah. They don’t waiting for anything and they just appreciate you being there. They freed their mind. So it’s just like, I feel so this is a good state of mind. And visited a few monasteries in France. And it’s not What I, what I was waiting of a Buddhist monastery, I mean, the monks would have alcohol party would possess cars. Yeah, true, true. So I can’t see how they can really.

Shuchita  15:17  
That’s just like lip service for saying,

Sylvian Gambini  15:20  
it’s really trendy Buddhism, you know, so like a I’m a Buddhist, I know some people that say that Buddhists because they like they have a Big Buddha in their house and they think it’s beautiful. It’s materialistic stuff, you know, I mean, being a Buddhist is be behaving a certain way. And you can see these people are not Buddhist, even Walpola Rahula. He says, in Sri Lanka, and in India, there are so few real Buddhists, many, many people say they are but they don’t behave like they are. They kill mosquitoes, or they are getting into you fight for stupid things they do. Yes,

Sylvian Gambini : 
this is not a Buddhist attitude, you must be peaceful, respectful. Humidity, not talking when you did you don’t have to talk. I’m trying to help people, trying to be a good person and that makes me really happy. I think so.
Shuchita  16:12  
And it’s, it’s like, like, there are some religions that believe in like penance or something and where you have to punish your own self or fast for long days to please a higher God. I mean, but Buddhism is very simple… I mean, as compared to them, because it’s just like, you be clean (pure) yourself and you are done.

Sylvian Gambini  16:39  Absolutely. You don’t need to go (for fasting or tough rituals) and all actually in Buddhism. Buddha didn’t say what God was deciding for us. So we all we don’t go to Paradise or hell because we behave great or bad. It’s just like, it’s the common law. You need to know this, I guess.

Shuchita  16:57  
Yes. Exactly. The karma.

Sylvian Gambini  16:59  
You don’t need any good to be in the karma. The karma law is just working alone.

Shuchita  17:04  
Yes, absolutely. It was a… a major, major lifestyle change for you then.

Sylvian Gambini  17:13  
Yes or no? I mean, I’m still the same person. I’ve never been an aggressive person or trying to (dominate)….I was never interested in power or money or materialism.

Shuchita  17:27  
Even now, like you say, like, all these… you are grateful for the things that you have but you don’t feel like you possess them…..

Sylvian Gambini  17:35  
Oh, no, absolutely not. I know I can lose everything. I can lose my wife. I can lose my house. I can lose everything. In one second. I know it. Yeah. No, no, no, no. No possession. 

Shuchita  17:48  
Would you like to say something Amélie (his wife) ?

Sylvian Gambini  17:52  
I don’t think so. I know. She forgot how to talk. I absolutely don’t feel you people possess people. I feel I just even don’t possess me. That’s how I really feel it. So how could I possess someone else?

Shuchita  18:07  
Yes. But what does that mean, like for for a person who doesn’t think as, I  mean, as deeply as you do? Does it scare you that… nothing in this world is yours?

Sylvian Gambini  18:21  
Oh, no. It will scare me that I possess things because I know people really rich who possess things and they want more and they are very afraid to lose them. On the contrary, I mean, I am really I feel at peace..  I personally feel great, it is great because I can’t lose anything.

Shuchita  18:41  
Yes, right. That’s one way to look at it. You don’t have anything you can’t lose anything either.

Sylvian Gambini  18:45  
I know you don’t possess things. Or maybe if you possess one thing it is your karma. And the way you you behave. This is what you do, what you say….you possess it.
Shuchita  18:55  
Yes. That’s That’s true. Yes. And that’s like the for the longer. Yeah, it’s not like this with this life. That gets carried along.

Sylvian Gambini  19:04  
Oh, yeah. You can ruin your future.

The Bayeux War Cemetery – The lives that could have been

I walked where in their talking graves, and shirts of earth five thousand lay, When history with ten feasts of fire, had eaten the red air away.

Charles Causley

By Shuchita Jha

The Second World War shook the world in a way humanity can never forget. Keeping alive the memory of the martyrs, the Bayeux War Cemetery pays homage to the soldiers who died in the war. 

The largest cemetery of the commonwealth soldiers lies in a Quaint town of France, Bayeux, away from the hullabaloo of the big cities, so that the departed can rest in peace. 

The Bayeux Memorial also immortalizes countless other soldiers who died in Normandy, but do not have a known grave.

Bayeux War Graves. Photo: Shuchita Jha/Ground Tales

The memorial became the topic of one of the poems of Cornish poet and school teacher Charles Causley. He wrote the poem ‘ At the British War Cemetery’ after paying a visit to the Bayeux War Graves. His father had died as a result of the First World War, which prompted him to pay a visit to the war cemetery, where he was shocked out of his wits. 

“I was deeply shocked when I went there. Absolutely awful. They had tried to make the landscape sort of rather British there – English flowers and all that but it didn’t matter. I went to Singapore to give some readings and I visited the cemetery there where a lot of the British boys had been buried, you know, and I went with a young chap there and he said to me, ‘They’re just kids – they’re so young.’ Awful.”

The War Memorial is maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), an intergovernmental organisation of six independent member states, namely, Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand, South Africa and the United Kingdom.

The epitaph on the graves, with the insignia of the infantries that participated in the war have some heartfelt messages from the loved ones of the departed… 

It makes you think of the people, who could have been, who could have seen more life, who could have raised their own children or spent some more time with their wives and mothers.

The cemetery has graves of 4,648 martyrs from different nations- 3,935 from United Kingdom, 466 from (Nazi) Germany, 181 from Canada, 25 from Poland, 17 from Australia, 8 from New Zealand, 7 from Russia, 3 from France, 2 from Czech Republic, 2 from Italy and 1 from South Africa.

The cemetery grounds were assigned to the United Kingdom by France in recognition of the sacrifices made by the British Empire for the defence and liberation of France during the Invasion of Normandy in 1944, also known as Operation Overload.

Every year on June 6, the anniversary of D-Day invasion, The French government and CWGC pay their respects to the departed in a grand ceremony.

छत्तीसगढ़ में बिकता है गोबर, द्रौपदी ने दस दिन में कमाए 31 हजार

छत्तीसगढ़ के दुर्ग जिले के चंदखुरी गांव में खुशी का माहौल है। यहां पशुपालन करने वाले किसानों ने गोबर बेचकर बम्पर कमाई की है। महिला किसान द्रौपदी 70 गाय पालती हैं। उन्होंने 10 दिन का गोबर इकट्ठा कर सरकार को दो रुपये प्रति किलो के हिसाब से बेच दिया। पांच अगस्त को उनके खाते में 31 हजार रुपये का भुगतान हुआ।
द्रौपदी की तरह ही सावित्री ने 65 गाय से 25 हजार रुपए की कमाई की। गांव के ही रामकृष्ण यादव एवं सूरज यादव ने भी इतने पैसों का गोबर बेचा। पूरे गांव को मिलाकर सरकार की तरफ से दो लाख का भुगतान हुआ है।

छत्तीसगढ़ सरकार गोधन न्याय योजना के तहत किसानों और पशुपालकों से गोबर खरीद रही है। इस योजना का पहला पेमेंट 5 अगस्त को पशुपालकों को हुआ। योजना का सबसे बड़ा लाभ पहाटियों अर्थात चरवाहों को हो रहा है। किकिरमेटा की कलीन बाई के खाते में 23 हजार रुपए आए हैं। उनके पति संतरू पहाटिया हैं। गौठानों में पशुओं को लाकर रखने पर वहां एकत्रित किया गया गोबर चरवाहों का होता है।

इतने गोबर का क्या करेगी सरकार

गोधन न्याय योजना को 20 जुलाई को हरेली त्योहार पर शुरू किया गया था। एक अगस्त तक लगभग 10 हजार किसानों ने 50 लाख रुपये का गोबर बेचा। एकत्रित गोबर से शहरी क्षेत्रो में वर्मी कम्पोस्ट, गोबर की लकड़ी, धूपबत्ती, गमले, दिया, मूर्ति आदि उत्पाद बनाने की तैयारी चल रही है। महिला स्वसहायता समूहों को गोबर से दीया, लकड़ी, टोकरी आदि बनाकर बेच सकती हैं। जैविक खाद से शुद्ध अनाज और सब्जियां पैदा की जाएंगी। इस योजना के तहत राज्य के सभी वर्गो के 65 हजार 694 पशुपालकों में से 46 हजार 964 पशुपालकों ने एक अगस्त तक 82 हजार 711 क्विंटल गोबर बेचा है। गोबर बेचने वालों में से 40 हजार 913 पुरूष और 24 हजार 781 महिला है। इनमें 25 हजार 474 अनुसूचित जनजाति वर्ग के 5 हजार 474, अनुसूचित जाति के 5 हजार 490 और 71 हजार 724 अन्य पिछड़ा वर्ग के पशुपालक शामिल है।

Corona Tales : Children reveal new ‘adjustments’ that pandemic brought in their lives

Children for Children team of Child Rights and You (CRY) organises one of its kind virtual Model United Nations to discuss issues of underprivileged children during lockdown. Photo- CRY

For Fourteen-year-old, Akbar, who lives in Gurugram lockdown was not less than the worst dream of his life turning into a reality. With neither jobs nor money after the announcement of nationwide lockdown, most of the people in his locality left for their respective villages after the lockdown, leaving entire area deserted.

Online classes have become a new challenge for me now. We are three siblings and we have only one smart phone at our family.  All the three of us have to attend classes but only one could access it in a day. I will be appeared in class 10 board exams this year, how am I going to manage my studies this way

Purnima, a 15-year-old student



“My locality suddenly started looking like a site of a haunted movie. There were hardly a few faces visible in the area, all my friends left for their village along with their parents after the lockdown was announced. There was no one to even talk with. It was the worst ever experience of my life. Every vacate shanty was haunting me. Those were the days when I only prayed with the God to make everything normal like before”, said Akbar.

On the other hand 15-year-old, Purnima from Delhi is struggling with online education system during pandemic every passing day. With limited excess to digital devices and internet, Purnima who is going to pursue class 10 board exams this year is extremely concerned about her studies. “Online classes have become a new challenge for me now. We are three siblings and we have only one smart phone at our family.  All the three of us have to attend classes but only one could access it in a day. I will be appeared in class 10 board exams this year, how am I going to manage my studies this way”, she said.

Purnima also shared about the challenges of other children in her locality. She said her cousins are very young and cannot handle smartphones themselves, while her uncle and aunt are also not much literate about using the phone and enable access to online classes for their children. 

Children for Children team of Child Rights and You (CRY) organises one of its kind virtual Model United Nations to discuss issues of underprivileged children during lockdown. Photo- CRY


Akbar and Purnima and many other children narrated and discussed their life during COVID times and challenges during 2-day long Children for Children Model United Nations held virtually by Child Rights and You (CRY). This was for the first time a virtual MUN was conducted by the organisation in wake of COVID 19 pandemic. Children from different sects of the society were part of this event, where they shared their experiences and views over different national and international issues related to children.

Addressing the MUN, Regional Director of Child Rights and You (CRY), Soha Moitra said “We at CRY perceive the youth as being instrumental in being the executors of the changes we aim for. Children for Children MUN and Model UNs in general are a manifestation of this philosophy. Model UNs has played a relevant role in building the next generation of leaders and will certainly build a body of aware, empathetic and innovative students”.

She further said “This MUN, however, is a bit different from the others. While many MUNs discuss issues of international peace and security, we at CFCMUN discussed issues which have a direct effect on the people and the society around you. We hope to create young leaders who are adept and empathetic about problems that will affect this generation and the next at both micro and macro levels. The issues that were discussed; education, heath, children in conflict zones vulnerability of children and the risks they face are even more amplified during ongoing COVID 19 pandemic”.

“The issues of vulnerabilities especially for children have become larger and larger in COVID times and these are not just issues affecting marginalised communities; it will affect all of us. The two day long exercise of MUN gave us this opportunity to discuss this in detail and has broken the barriers of the notion that the possibilities are limited when it comes to young people”, Moitra added.

Delegates on COVID -19 and its impact during session

During the session, the delegates spoke about how health care systems in almost all countries have seen a shortage in medicines, vaccines and mostly importantly ventilators. Most developing or underdeveloped countries were not only facing the coronavirus disease but were struggling with issues like malnutrition as well.

The delegates also spoke about how low-income nations cannot implement lockdowns and curfews as most of their citizens depend on daily wages. The COVID-19 outbreak in December 2019 resulted in a pandemic on a scale the world hasn’t seen since a long time. All the health and social workers are risking their lives as this virus has left no nation untouched.

The delegates also spoke about how low-income nations cannot implement lockdowns and curfews as most of their citizens depend on daily wages. The COVID-19 outbreak in December 2019 resulted in a pandemic on a scale the world hasn’t seen since a long time.



They also highlighted how hygiene kits, soaps, masks, sanitisers should be provided to all students and workers free of cost. They also discussed the role of civil society in dealing with cases of domestic violence during pandemic. For children who are facing mental issues due to the lockdown, the committee discussed introducing tele-psychiatry and tele-medicine for providing pharmacotherapy for the vulnerable groups of children such as those in low income families with pre-existing chronic diseases and disabilities. 

About MUN

A Model United Nations conference is a competitive simulation of United Nations and its various organs and agencies. For years, it has enlightened students on how diplomacy takes place at an international level. It has also enabled them to have an open and critical approach on the current global crises and come up with possible solutions keeping in mind the various stakeholders. In today’s testing times, student volunteers at CRY have come together to independently organise Children for Children MUN.

It is unique because it is prime moved by children who are discussing issue of safety, education and rights of children across the world – therefore the name – Children for Children.  Team CFC comprises entirely of child rights ambassadors from CRY, belonging to different schools across North India. The team is dedicated to the cause and through this to bring conscious young delegates in on the mission.

National Fertilizers Limited Launches Mobile Soil Testing Lab

To give further boost to the Soil Testing facility in the country for promoting appropriate use of fertilizers, NFL has launched five Mobile Soil Testing Labs for testing the soil samples at the doorstep of farmers free of cost.

These Mobile Labs, loaded with latest soil testing equipment, shall be used for macro and micro nutrient analysis of soil. In addition to this, these Mobile Labs are also equipped with Audio-Video system to educate farmers on various agricultural topics. Other than the Mobile Soil Testing Labs, the company is also serving farming community through six Static Soil Testing Labs located in different parts of country. All these Labs tested around 25,000 soil samples free of cost in the year 2019-20

V N Datt, C&MD along with Directors and senior officials today flagged off one such Mobile Lab from the premises of NFL Corporate Office in Noida. —PIB

Major Impact on climate due to extension of Amery Ice Shelf (AIS), NCPOR study reveals

The National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR) predicts that there would be a 24% increase in the expansion of Ameri Ice Shelf (AIS) boundaries by 2021 and another 24% expansion by 2026 from its 2016 positions. The prediction made by NCPOR is based on a 16-year-long satellite-based observation that covered an area of 60,000 sq. km across the AIS. Scientists feel that this study would help understand the ongoing changes in the ocean and atmospheric forces better.

Photo- NASA / Jim Yungel

The floating sheets of ice called the ice shelves play a multi-faceted role in maintaining the stability of a glacier. Ice shelves connect a glacier to the landmass. The ice sheet mass balance, sea stratification, and bottom water formation are important parameters for the balancing of a glacier. Latent and sensible heat processes do play important roles here. 

The study is based on the satellite data collected from 2001 to 2016

The AIS is one of the largest glacier drainage basins in the world, located on the east coast of Antarctica, at about 70ºS Latitude, 70ºE Longitude. The AIS dynamics and mass balance help in understanding the changes in the global climate scenario.

Study area map showing the AIS extent positions from 2001 to 2016.

The insulation of ice shelves from atmospheric forcing is dependent on a temperature gradient that the ocean cavity beneath the ice shelves provides. It is the pressure exerted by the ice shelves upon the ocean cavity that determines this temperature gradient.

There is always a stress on the sea ice and ice sheets itself plays an indirect role in reducing the amplitude of the ocean swell. This is assisted by the freezing atmospheric temperature, which is capable of promoting a change in the morphology of ice shelves.

The AIS extended by about 550 m in 2017, 1470 m in 2018, and 2200 m in 2019

NCPOR carried out this study based on the satellite data collected from 2001 to 2016. The data were collected during the austral (relating to the southern hemisphere) summer months of January to March to understand the advancement of AIS extension and the influence of ocean atmospheric forcing in East Antarctica. The NCOPOR scientists observed a spatio-temporal change in the ice shelf as reflected by the extension of the Pridze and Mackenzie and the extension of a 200-km stretch between Mackenzie Bay (68.5ºS Latitude; 70.2ºE Longitude) and the Sandefjord Bay (69.65ºS Latitude; 74.3ºE Longitude), which is a part of the AIS.

It becomes clear from the study that the AIS is losing its stability owing to the impact of a downstream giant glacial drainage system over the past 19 years, thereby advancing the ice shelf boundaries due to higher freezing rates than basal melting.

NCPOR has also estimated the rate at which ice shelves have extended for the last three years (2017-2019). The AIS extended by about 550 m in 2017, 1470 m in 2018, and 2200 m in 2019. If this continues, it is entirely possible that in the next six years (2021 to 2026), the positions of the ice shelf would closely coincide with the actual boundary conditions.

The study clearly shows that the AIS is losing its stability owing to the impact of a downstream giant glacial drainage system over the past 19 years

NCPOR observations also revealed a critical cooling of the sea surface temperature (SST), resulting in an advancement of the ice shelf by 88% in the past 15 years. These changes would contribute in a major way to climate variability.

Referring to the NCPOR study from 2001 to 2016, Dr. Avinash Kumar, a senior scientist at NCPOR who is involved in the research, said: “In the background of the global warming scenario, the study reveals that the advancement in the predicted ice shelf extent closely corresponds with the actual extent. The study clearly demonstrated the application of satellite observations and statistical techniques methods for the determination and validation; the reconstruction of the past; and the prediction of the future dynamism of ocean heat fluctuation and Antarctic Amery ice shelf mass shifting-extent. These are some of the groundbreaking methods crucial for monitoring and quantification of climate change effects and its consequences. The methods could be replicated elsewhere as they are necessary for the understanding of the response of global climate change, its monitoring for sustainable environmental management.”

Led by Dr. Avinash Kumar, the research team comprised Juhi Yadav and Rahul Mohan of NCPOR, Ministry of Earth Sciences, Goa, and Aakriti Srivastava of the Department of Earth Science, Barkatullah University, Bhopal. The research paper has been published in the Journal of Environmental Management.

—PIB

After studying the DNA from 3,000 rice accessions Researchers find a new possibility to improve rice productivity

Researcher Jitendra Kumar Thakur with his colleagues

Rice is one of the main staple foods across the world since it has very high carbohydrate content and provides instant energy. In Southeast Asia, where it is consumed more than in the other part of the world, it accounts for more than 75% of the calorie intake. India has the largest area under rice crop cultivation: almost all States grow rice. However, it suffers from a problem of low productivity.

In order to meet the demand of the growing population of India and the world, production of rice needs to increase significantly, say by about 50% of current productivity. Traits like number of grains per plant and weight of the grain mainly determine the yield in rice. Thus, one of the main aims of the researchers and breeders has been to develop superior rice varieties with heavier grains, which can give higher yield and better nutrition.

In a new study, researchers from the Department of Biotechnology’s National Institute of Plant Genome Research (DBT-NIPGR), ICAR-Indian Agricultural Research Institute (ICAR-IARI), ICAR-National Rice Research Institute (ICAR-NRRI), Cuttack and University of Delhi South Campus (UDSC), have identified a region in the genome of rice, which seems to have the potential for improving productivity.

We believe that in future efforts, this LDR region could be utilized for improving rice production by targeting various traits including the seed size QTL identified here

Jitendra Kumar Thakur, Team Leader

The scientists conducted their study by sequencing the genomes of four Indian genotypes (LGR, PB 1121, Sonasal & Bindli) that show contrasting phenotype in seed size/weight. After analyzing their genomic variations, they found that the Indian rice germplasms had much more genomic diversity than that estimated so far.

They then studied the DNA from 3,000 rice accessions from across the world along with the four Indian genotypes sequenced in the study. They identified one long (~6 Mb) genomic region, which had an unusually suppressed nucleotide diversity region across the centromere of chromosome 5. They named it as `low diversity region’ or LDR in short.

An in-depth multidimensional analysis of this region revealed that it had played an important role during domestication of rice varieties as it was present in most of the cultivated rice genotypes and absent in wild varieties. Most of the modern cultivated rice varieties belong to japonica and indica genotypes. They had this region prominently. In contrast, it was less prominent in the aus group rice varieties, which  are closer to the wild type. Further studies revealed that the LDR region contained one QTL (Quantitative Trait Locus) region that was significantly associated with grain size/weight trait.

The new study assumes importance as in addition to genome-wide exploration, it has highlighted an important and a long domestication-related genomic region, which was found to be evolutionarily crafted to carry multiple agronomic traits associations. “We believe that in future efforts, this LDR region could be utilized for improving rice production by targeting various traits including the seed size QTL identified here”, team leader, Jitendra Kumar Thakur of DBT-NIPGR said. 

The study team included Swarup K. ParidaAngad Kumar, Anurag Daware, Arvind Kumar, Vinay Kumar and Subhasish Mondal of DBT-NIPGR, Akhilesh K. Tyagi of University of Delhi South Campus, Gopala Krishnan S and Ashok. K. Singh of ICAR-IARI, and Bhaskar Chandra Patra of ICAR-NRRI. They have submitted a report on their work to The Plant Journal. It has accepted it for publication.

Covid-19 lockdown affects over 50 lakh tribals dependent on forests, making Van Dhan Yojna more relevant

The current crisis situation due to Covid-19 has posed an unprecedented threat across the country. Almost all the States and UTs in India are affected by it, in varying degrees. The situation has also dealt a blow to the livelihoods of the poor and marginalized communities. The tribal gatherers can be one of the worst affected in these trying times since this is the peak season for harvesting Non-Timber Forest Produce (NTFP) in many regions.

“About 5 lakhs of tribal artisans make their living through handicraft & handlooms, engaged in Textile weaving, Metal Crafts, Home Décor, Jewellery, Block Printing, ornamental Painting etc. The biggest challenge for tribal artisans, however, is to market their products effectively and make more people aware of the top quality items they develop,” said Pravir Krishna, Managing Director of TRIFED, Ministry of Tribal Affairs.

“TRIFED (under Ministry of Tribal Affairs) has been playing an instrumental role in this regard by procuring tribal-made products and selling them to the masses in India and worldwide under the banner of TRIBES India. They have launched a #GoTribal campaign and are growing from strength to strength via opening up of over 120 permanent outlets across the country (including airports), ecommerce platforms, exhibitions, organizing grand ‘Aadi Mahotsavs; and entering into tie-ups for providing training to the artisans for further capacity building, quality improvement and market alignment,” he added.

over 50 lakhs tribals depend on forest produces, having inherent skills in forest produce harvesting. Tribal Forest produce gatherers usually collect about half to one tonne of Forest produce in a year.

Pravir Krishna

He was addressing a Webinar under ‘Know Your Scheme-Lecture Series’ on “Van Dhan Yojana : Learning For Post Covid-19” organized by the Department of Science and Technology, Government of Rajasthan in association with Trifed, Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Government of India on May 26.  Pravir Krishna, Managing Director of TRIFED, Ministry of Tribal Affairs was the Key Note Speaker detailing the learnings for post Covid-19 and the Webinar was moderated by Mugdha Sinha, Secretary, Science and Technology, Government of Rajasthan.

Further, Pravir Krishna disclosed that over 50 lakhs tribals depend on forest produces, having inherent skills in forest produce harvesting. Tribal Forest produce gatherers usually collect about half to one tonne of Forest produce in a year. Speaking about the immense potential tribals have owing to their inherent skills, Krishna said, “We just need to help them with their skills in Value addition and enabling them as Micro enterprises. Through Minimum Support Price, it is feasible to assure a revenue of Rs.20,000 to Rs.30,000 per person per year and through VanDhan Value addition Scheme,  two to three times of the same.”

“Until now, middlemen have been the key beneficiaries, and how the VanDhan Yojana aims at changing this scenario to increase the share of forest produce gatherers. Proven examples of the scheme were highlighted from Senapati District in Manipur and Longleng District, Nagaland, where tribal gatherers have been able to benefit tremendously under the Van Dhan Yojana,” Krishna described.

TRIFED is also going forward with ‘Tech for Tribals’ initiative by partnering with leading IITs and IIMs of the country along with the Ministry of MSME to form an Entrepreneurship Skill Development Program. Additionally, there is due focus on Digitization of dashboards, monitoring of VanDhan projects to streamline the flow of information, track progress and enable quick submission of proposals under the scheme.

“TRIFED has collaborated with the Art of Living Foundation’s #iStandWithHumanity Initiative through a Stand With Tribal Families component in providing much needed Ration Kits for survival of the tribal community. Ration Kits have already been distributed across various regions of Kashmir, Telangana, Maharashtra, Karnataka and distribution is being planned for other parts of the country as well,” said Krishna.

“TRIFED also initiated Van Dhan Samajik Doori Jagrookta Abhiyaan in association with UNICEF, under which tribals are being provided with crucial information regarding COVID-19 with several guidelines, nationwide and state-specific webinars and instructions on safety measures to be followed. The Ministry of Tribal Affairs has also revised the Minimum Support Prices of NTFP items to provide much needed relief to forest gatherers in these trying times,” he added.

Best practices adopted by states during pandemic

Describing Best Practices being followed under VanDhan, Krishna spoke about door to door procurement of NTFP items in Chhattisgarh, sale of Van Dhan products through mobile vans in Manipur, establishment of MFP Processing units (TRIFOOD) at Raigad, ‘Apni Dukan’ initiative in Madhya Pradesh, among others.

Van Dhan Tribal Enterprise stories from Sirohi, Rajasthan were also highlighted where Amla pickles, Jams, Murraba & other value added products are being processed and marketed effectively under the scheme. Speaking about the Way Forward for Rajasthan, Krishna discussed the potential of additional 145 VanDhan Vikas Kendras that can be sanctioned in Rajasthan and may be established as ‘Tribal Startups for Atmanirbhar Bharat’. The appointment of Aajeevika / Forest Department as second Implementing Agency under Van Dhan Yojana would further expand the coverage of Van Dhan to all Districts of Rajasthan, also increasing the coverage of super foods like Bajra, Jawar, millets, etc.

The Department of Science & Technology, Govt. of Rajasthan, expressed their keen interest in the VanDhan Yojana and discussed a partnership with TRIFED under VanDhan’s ‘Tech for Tribals’ initiative as a Knowledge Partner, along with their established institutional network comprised of IIM Udaipur, IIT Jodhpur, among others to take the scheme forward. — PIB

घर वापसी के लिए खाली जेब, भूखे पेट सैकड़ों किलोमीटर चले मध्यप्रदेश के प्रवासी मजदूर, अब अंधकार में भविष्य

सतना के डाडिन गांव के मनीष मवासी गुरुग्राम के पास सोनम शहर में क्रेशर में काम करने गए। वहां उन्हें 9000 रुपए मासिक वेतन मिलता था। रहने की व्यवस्था ठेकेदार द्वारा की गई थी। लॉक डाउन हुआ, काम बंद हो गया। ठेकेदार ने 5 दिन तक खाने में मदद की फिर कहा कि अब घर चले जाओ, लेकिन एक महीने तक वहां से निकलना मुमकिन नहीं हो पाया। मनीष ने तीन मई को तय किया कि अब घर जाएंगे। उस समय जेब में सिर्फ 1200 रुपए बचे थे। रास्ते में एक ट्रक वालों को 830 दिए और 150 किलोमीटर पैदल चले।

कुछ इसी तरह की कहानी महिलोखर गांव के राजबहोर कोल की है जो राजकोट, गुजरात में टाइल्स बनाने वाली फैक्ट्री में 10 हज़ार रुपए महीने पर काम करते थे। साल के 11 महीने वे वहीं रहते थे। उनकी पत्नी सुनीता गांव में ही 10-12 दिन मजदूरी करती और 2000 रुपये कमा लेती थीं। लॉक डाउन से दोनों का काम बंद हो गया।  फैक्ट्री बंद होने के दिन से राजबहोर को कोई मदद नहीं मिली। मई में राजकोट से मध्यप्रदेश की सीमा तक आने में 1500 रुपए लगे। जेब में अब हजार रुपए बचे थे। पैसे बचाने के लिए राजबहोर ने 6 दिन के सफ़र में आधे दिन खाना नहीं खाया।

सतना के पटना गांव के राजकुमार को भी हैदराबाद से अपने घर तक की यात्रा में 500 किलोमीटर की यात्रा पैदल करनी पड़ी। वे हैदराबाद में संगमरमर पालिश की फैक्ट्री में काम करते थे।  लॉक डाउन के कारण फैक्ट्री बंद हो गई। एक महीने तक बिना काम के बैठे रहे, फिर वापस आना तय किया। ठेकेदार से मजदूरी के बकाया 60 हज़ार मांगे, तो नहीं मिले। उनके पास बस 1000 रुपए बचे थे। पैसा बचाने के लिए उन्होंने बस-ऑटो के अलावा 500 किलोमीटर की यात्रा पैदल की।

मध्यप्रदेश के प्रवासी मजदूरों की ये कहानियां विकास संवाद समिति के रैपिड सर्वे रिपोर्ट के माध्यम से सामने आई है। यह रिपोर्ट 26 मई को ऑनलाइन प्रेस मीट के जरिए विकास संवाद से जुड़े सामाजिक कार्यकर्ता सचिन कुमार जैन और राकेश मालवीय ने जारी किया। रिपोर्ट को मध्यप्रदेश के 10 जिलों के 310 प्रवासी मजदूरों से बातचीत के आधार पर तैयार किया गया है। इनमें से 141 मजदूर (45.5%) अपने परिवार के साथ पलायन पर गए थे। इन मजदूरों के कुल 653 सदस्यों ने पलायन किया था। परिवार के साथ पलायन करने वाले परिवारों के कुल सदस्यों (653) में से 328 (50.2%) सदस्य भी या तो उनके साथ काम कर रहे थे या अन्य किसी आर्थिक गतिविधि में संलग्न थे। इससे परिवार की आय में वृद्धि हो रही थी।

जेब में बस हजार रुपए बचे थे और घर तक का रास्ता हजार किलोमीटर से भी अधिक दूर था। 400 किलोमीटर की यात्रा पैदल की और फिर बस और ऑटो लिया। मैहर पहुंचते ही सारे पैसे खत्म हो गए। उसके बाद 100 किलोमीटर फिर पैदला चला।

राजकुमार

इस अध्ययन से यह पता चला कि त्वरित अध्ययन से यह पता चला कि 310 अध्ययनित व्यक्तियों और परिवारों में से 50.6% लोग पलायन के दौरान निर्माण या इससे जुडी परियोजनाओं में मजदूरी का काम करते थे। इस काम में संगमरमर के पालिश, गिट्टी तोड़ने, पुताई और टाइल्स बनाने आदि के काम शामिल थे। 21 प्रतिशत प्रवासी मजदूर किन्ही व्यापारिक उपक्रमों में दैनिक/मासिक आधार पर रोज़गार पाते थे। इनमें शोरूम में विक्रेता का काम, माल में सुरक्षा कर्मी, किन्हीं दफ्तरों में सेवाएं देने का काम शामिल है। 16.8 प्रतिशत प्रवासी मजदूर कारखानों और छोटे उद्योगों में मशीन चलाने, कपड़ा उद्योग में सहायक आदि का काम कर रहे थे. 8.4 प्रतिशत मजदूर घरेलु सहायक/कामगार की भूमिका में रोज़गार पा रहे थे. केवल 2.3 प्रतिशत प्रवासी बागवानी या फ़ार्महाउस पर, 1 प्रतिशत वाहन चालक और 3.2 प्रतिशत अन्य भूमिका में रोज़गार पा रहे थे।  पेश है रिपोर्ट के महत्वपूर्ण नतीजे।

क्या प्रवास पर वापस जाना चाहते हैं मजदूर

मध्यप्रदेश के मानव और आर्थिक विकास सूचकांकों में पिछड़े हुए जिलों के प्रवासी मजदूरों के बीच किए गए अध्ययन से पता चला कि 56.5% मजदूर 3 से 6 महीने के लिए पलायन करते हैं। जबकि 21.8% मजदूर 3 महीने तक ही अवधि के लिए रोज़गार के लिए पलायन पर रहते हैं। कम अवधि का पलायन मुख्य रूप से कृषि मजदूरी के रूप में होता है। 16.8 प्रतिशत मजदूर 6 महीने से 11 महीने के लिए और 5.2 प्रतिशत मजदूर पूरे साल भर पलायन पर रहते हैं। साल भर पलायन पर रहने वाले मजदूर नियमित रूप से गाँव भी नहीं आते हैं।   

वापस आए कुछ मजदूरों को गांव में मनरेगा के तहत काम मिल रहा है। फोटो- विकास संवाद

अध्ययन किये गए प्रवासी मजदूरों के समूह द्वारा दी गयी जानकारी के विश्लेषण से पता चलता है कि 54.5% मजदूर अब पलायन पर वापस नहीं जाना चाह्ते हैं। जबकि 24.5% ने कहा कि उन्हें अभी बहुत सोचना पड़ेगा. जो असमंजस में हैं, उनकी प्राथमिकता में अब पलायन पर जाना नहीं है, किन्तु क्या गाँव में रोज़गार मिल पायेगा? यदि यहाँ रोज़गार नहीं मिला, तो फिर पलायन पर जाने के अलावा क्या विकल्प है?

21% प्रवासी मजदूर अभी पलायन पर जाने के लिए तैयार हैं, क्योंकि उन्हें लगता है कि इससे उन्हें निरंतर रोज़गार मिला रहता है. पलायन पर जाने की उनकी तैयारी के पीछे उनकी यह सोच है कि सरकारें गाँव में लोगों को रहने देना ही नहीं चाहती हैं।

उनका मानना है कि कोविद19 तो एक महामारी है किन्तु हमारे नियोक्ताओं, प्रशासन और सरकारों ने जिस तरह का व्यवहार किया है, वह बहुत दुखद और अपमानजनक रहा है। जिस दिन तालाबंदी हुई, उसी दिन मजदूरों की के बुरे दिनों की शुरुआत भी हुई। जिन मजदूरों ने कई दिनों से अपना वेतन या मजदूरी नहीं ली थी, उन्हें नियोक्ताओं ने बार-बार मिन्नतें करने के बाद भी मजदूरी का भुगतान नहीं किया। तालाबंदी के दौरान अपनी जमापूंजी से 3 से 4 हफ्ते गुज़ारे किन्तु जब यह समझ आने लगा कि व्यवस्थाएं नहीं हो पाएंगी और अब रोज़गार का भी संकट होने वाला है, तब वापस गांव/घर की तरफ लौटना शुरू कर दिया।

रास्ते में पानी में बिस्किट भिगो-भिगोकर खाए। सड़क के किनारों और गांवों की सीमा के बाहर रातें गुजारीं क्योंकि कोविड19 के भय के कारण गांवों में भी प्रवेश की मनाही थी।

मजदूरों ने बताया

ग्रामीण अर्थव्यवस्था को मजबूत करने की जरूरत

सर्वे में सामने आया है कि कोविड19 के कारण उपजी स्थितियों के कारण जिन गांवों में 30 से 70 प्रतिशत तक पलायन होता था, उन गांवों में लगभग सभी लोग वपास आ गए हैं या आ जाएंगे। ये लोग विभिन्न कामों में अपनी भूमिका निभा रहे थे। आर्थिक विकास के ताने-बाने में इन्होनें बहुत भयावह समय देखा है। वापस आये हुए प्रवासी कामगार इस संशय में हैं कि क्या वास्तव में वे अपने घर या गाँव में रुके रह पायेंगे. यदि सरकार यह चाहती है कि प्रवासी मजदूर अभी कुछ साल सुकून से रहे, तो उसे गांव के स्तर पर खाद्य सुरक्षा, स्वास्थ्य, शिक्षा, आवास, सुरक्षा और रोज़गार की माकूल व्यवस्थाएं खड़ी करने में मदद करने वाली नीतियां बनाना और लागू करना होंगी। यदि सरकार हमेशा की तरह गांवों और गाँव के संसाधनों के प्रति उदासीन रही, तो हालात अच्छे नहीं होंगे।

अध्ययन के मुताबिक 90.3% प्रवासी मजदूर मानते हैं कि अब सरकार को परिवार में किसी एक व्यक्ति के लिए नहीं, सभी कार्य सक्षम सदस्यों के लिए रोज़गार के विकल्प उपलब्ध करवाने चाहिए. परिवार में एक व्यक्ति के रोज़गार से पूरे परिवार का भरण पोषण संभव नहीं होगा।

93.9% प्रवासी कामगार चाहते हैं कि सस्ते राशन की योजना को बेहतर बनाया जाए। अभी भी 20% मजदूर परिवार की राशन कार्ड से वंचित हैं और शेष परिवारों में से एक तिहाई परिवारों में एक या एक से ज्यादा सदस्य राशन की सूची में शामिल नहीं है. वे चाहते हैं कि सभी को बिना किसी भेदभाव के सस्ता राशन मिले।

लगभग 63% परिवार (195 परिवार) ऐसे हैं, जिनके पास सब्जियां उगाने, खेती करने या पशुपालन करने की व्यवस्था है. 153 परिवार मानते हैं कि यदि उन्हें कृषि सम्बंधित गतिविधियों को व्यवस्थित करने के लिए आर्थिक अनुदान मिले, तो कोविड19 का संकट बहुत हद तक कम हो सकेगा।    

प्रवासी कामगार मानते हैं कि यदि वास्तव में कोविड के दुष्प्रभावों को कम करना है तो गांव में ही उत्पादन बढ़ाना होगा. यह जरूरी नहीं है कि हर गांव में उद्योग स्थापित हो, लेकिन कम से कम ऐसा तो हो कि हमें अपने ही जिले में रोज़गार मिल जाए।

76.8% परिवार जमीन और जमीन से सम्बंधित व्यवस्थाओं में बदलाव चाहते हैं। अभी खेती, पशुपालन और आवास से सम्बंधित मामलों में हर स्थान पर वंचित तबकों, गरीब परिवारों और ख़ास कर मजदूरों के साथ अन्यायकारी स्थितियां बनी हुई हैं। प्रवासी कामगार मानते हैं कि यदि वास्तव में कोविड के दुष्प्रभावों को कम करना है तो गांव में ही उत्पादन बढ़ाना होगा. यह जरूरी नहीं है कि हर गांव में उद्योग स्थापित हो, लेकिन कम से कम ऐसा तो हो कि हमें अपने ही जिले में रोज़गार मिल जाए।

100% प्रवासी कामगार शासकीय योजनाओं (वन क्षेत्रों, अधोसंरचना निर्माण और महात्मा गांधी राष्ट्रीय ग्रामीण रोज़गार गारंटी योजना) के तहत मजदूरी की राशि में वृद्धि की जाना चाहिए।

इसी तरह 100% प्रवासी मजदूर बच्चों और किशोरों के लिए गुणवत्तापूर्ण (यानी अच्छी) शिक्षा की व्यवस्था छाते हैं क्योंकि शिक्षा व्यवस्था का अभाव भी पलायन का एक बड़ा कारण है. 87.7% लोग विकासखंड स्तर पर अच्छी स्वास्थ्य सेवाएँ, 63.2% पेंशन और नकद सहायता चाहते हैं। 65.8 प्रतिशत लोग मानते हैं कि ग्रामीण क्षेत्रों में होने वाले सामाजिक और आर्थिक भेदभाव को रोका जाना चहिए। जब सामाजिक भेदभाव होता है, तब भी गाँव के युवा मानते हैं कि पलायन पर चले जाना बेहतर है।

खराब माली हालत की वजह से हुई वापसी

  • 23% मजदूरों के पास घर पहुँचने के वक्त 100 या इससे कम रुपये थे.
  • 25.2% मजदूर जब घर पहुंचे तब उनके पास 101 रुपये से 500 रुपये की राशि और
  • 18.1% मजदूरों के पास 501 रुपये से 1000 रुपये की राशि शेष बची थी.
  • 22.6% प्रवासी मजदूरों के पास कठिन और बुरे सपने जैसी यात्रा को पूरा करने के बाद 1001 रुपये से 2000 रुपये तक की राशि शेष बची थी.
  • लगभग 11% मजदूर ही ऐसे थे, जिनके पास 2000 रुपये से ज्यादा की राशि शेष रही.

वापसी के बाद गांव में क्या हुआ

  • 71.3% प्रवासी मजदूरों का कहना है कि समुदाय या गाँव/बस्ती के अन्य लोगों का व्यवहार सामान्य ही रहा. जब वे पलायन से वापस आये, तब उन्हें अपने परिवार से अलग रहने को कहा गया. इस दौरान वे स्कूल, पंचायत भवन या फिर किसी झोंपड़ी में रहे. यह एक अनिवार्यता थी ताकि महामारी के फैलाव को रोका जा सके.
  • 23.5% प्रवासी मजदूरों का कहना है कि वापस आने पर उनके साथ भेदभाव पूर्ण व्यवहार किया गया.
  • 5.2% लोगों के साथ अपमानजनक व्यवहार किया गया. 
  • 57.4% प्रवासी मजदूरों पर कोई क़र्ज़ नहीं है. इनमें से कुछ लोग आपने नातेदारी में कुछ राशि उधार ले लेते हैं, किन्तु उसे क़र्ज़ के रूप में परिभाषित नहीं करते हैं.
  • बेहद कमज़ोर आर्थिक स्थिति वाले प्रवासी मजदूर कहते हैं कि चूंकि हमारे पास कोई संसाधन (जमीन, घर के कागज़ आदि) नहीं हैं, इसलिए हमें क़र्ज़ मिलता भी नहीं है.
  • 15% प्रवासी मजदूरों पर रु. 2001 से रु. 5000 का क़र्ज़ है. 3.5% परिवार ऐसे हैं, जिन पर रु. 25 हज़ार से 50 हज़ार का क़र्ज़ है. 

Rapid study: Mass unemployment worries over 90% migrant workers of Madhya Pradesh

A rapid study conducted by a Bhopal based non-profit Vikas Samvad Samiti (VSS), on situation of migrant labourers who returned to Madhya Pradesh reveals shocking results. The study was released in a virtual press meet on May 26 by social activists associated with VSS–Sachin Kumar Jain and Rakesh Kumar Malviya. VSS conducted the study on 310 migrant labourers from 10 districts of Madhya Pradesh.

The rapid study revealed that while more than 90 percent believe they will face severe unemployment, around 82 percent say they will be in debt for the better part of their lives as they have no sources of income.

Most of the migrant labourers (91.2%) who have returned to Madhya Pradesh apprehend that they will be trapped in the crisis of unemployment. As many as 81% of the workers believe that the pandemic has created an emergency situation and there is an acute crisis of medical facilities for treatment of novel coronavirus. Around 82.3% of the migrant laborers are worried that they will be caught in the web of debt.

Madhya Pradesh has been witnessing a large scale reverse migration since nationwide lockdown to fight Covid-19 crisis. According to MP government’s official data the state had made arrangements for the return of only 4.63 lakh migrant workers from across different states until 20th May 2020, including 1.93 lakh migrant laborers from Gujarat, 1 lakh from Rajasthan and 1.07 lakh from Maharashtra. In addition to this information, an assessment informs that as many as 10 lakh laborers have reached homes or are on their way either on foot or with some other modes of transport, on their own.

According to the Census 2011, around 30.29 lakh migrants from Madhya Pradesh had moved over to 17 states. These included 10.18 lakh men and 20.11 lakh women. The Census 2011 also brings out that the out-migration of women is essentially linked to their marriage whereas that of the men is associated with their employment. Thus, assuming that 50% of women had migrated because of marriage factor, as of 2011 and that as many as 20 lakh persons had migrated to other states from Madhya Pradesh for the job-related reasons. Going by the rate of increase of population at 1.9% per annum, lack of opportunities for employment, absence of policies on rural economies and poor health-nutrition indicators, it is estimated that as many as 30 lakh persons may have migrated to other states. “It needs to be asserted that Covid-19 is not just a health-related disaster. It is also a social and economic emergency that has engulfed India in the whirlpool of uncertainty. In the midst of these circumstances, Vikas Samvad has sought to undertake a Rapid Study on the returning migrant laborers,” said the study brief.

Main Findings from the Rapid Study

Classification of Migrant Laborers

  • 45.5% laborers had out-migrated with their families whilst the remaining 54.5% had gone alone.
  • 31.9% workers were of ages 8-25 years, 43.8% of 26-40 years and that 24.2% of 40+ years.
  • 50.6% migrant laborers were employed in the constructions sector, 21% in the business/enterprises and 16.7% in factories/industries.
  • 26.8% of the returning migrant laborers are from within the districts of Madhya Pradesh whilst 16.1% are from Gujarat, 13.2% from Delhi, NOIDA, Gurgaon, and Faridabad region. 11.9% of the migrant laborers have come back from Uttar Pradesh and that 6.5% from Maharashtra.
  • The average daily earning ranged from Rs. 201 to Rs. 300 for 29.4% of the of the migrant laborers, from Rs.301 to Rs.400 for 41.6% laborers and that 17.1% laborers earned from Rs. 401 to Rs.500 per day.
  • 56.5% of the laborers had out-migrated for a period of 3 to 6 months whilst 21.6% had gone out from their home villages for less than 3 months and that 16.8% for 6 months to 11 months.  
  • 93.2% of the migrant laborers had not received any formal letter of appointment or contract of employment. Thus, their employment was devoid of any vested legal rights.
  • As the mode of payment of wages varies from being daily, weekly, or monthly or whilst returning back to home, the sudden lockdown has left 47% laborers either unpaid or only partially paid.
  • Whilst the entire nation is basking in the glory of digital payment system, the study informs that 85.8% migrant laborers received their remittances in cash. Thus, no systematic evidence exists with regard to the employment and wages paid for.
  • 81% migrant laborers informed that they did not get any leave or holidays during their employment. Moreover, the wages are deducted for the absent days resulting in the loss of their earnings. 
  • As many as 57.4% migrant laborers do not have any burden of loans/borrowings.
A woman migrant labour sharing her ordeal the rapid survey team
Image- Vikas Samvad Samiti

Circumstances Arising Amidst Covid-19

  • The kind of treatment, economic insecurity and agony that has been faced, 54.6% of the migrant laborers in the Study area are rather averse to migrating back should the Covid-triggered situation return to normalcy. About one-fourth (24.5%) of the returning migrants are indecisive whether they would choose to out-migrate again and if yes, when. Around one-fifth (21%) migrants, however, are clear in their minds to get back after the normalcy for workers gets restored.
  • 23% of the returning migrant laborers were left with an amount of less than Rs. 100/- whilst 7% of the laborers did not even have a rupee with them! About one-fourth (25.2%) workers had money ranging from Rs.101/- to Rs. 500/- whilst 18.1% had money ranging from Rs. 501/- to Rs.1000/-. Only 11% laborers had cash of more than Rs.2001/-
  • Most (91.2%) of the migrant laborers apprehend that they will be trapped in the crisis of unemployment. As many as 81% of the workers believe that there is an emergency of the pandemic and crisis of lack of treatment facilities looms large. 82.3% of the migrant laborers are worried that they will be caught in the web of debts. Around three-fourth (76.5%) workers fear that there will be widespread hunger. Around half (53.5%) of them are worried that they may have to resort to distress selling of their land and household items and that the women may have to sell off their jewelry.

How to Combat the Covid-19 Emergency?

  • 90.3% of the migrant laborers are of the view that all members of their families of the employable age should be given employment.
  • 93.9% of the returning migrant laborers believe that all of them should be provided subsidized ration. They point out that still there are many families who are not registered with the Public Distribution System (PDS). Further, there are many families whose members’ names are missing in the list of eligible persons.
  • All of the returning migrants expect that the rates of minimum wages must be raised to 150% of that of the existing ones.
  • All of these returning migrants believe quality education and training for children and adolescents shall go a long way in bringing about positive change in the situation of the migrating laborers.
  • Around two-third (63.2%) workers expect to be covered in some pension scheme or be benefited with direct financial support.
  • As many as 87.7% migrant laborers want better health services at the community development block level.
  • 76.8% of the migrant workers desire to be endowed with legal entitlement to employment and land for housing.