Afroz Alam Sahil, BeyondHeadlines
Mumbai: Movement for Peace and Justice (MPJ), Maharashtra, organised a two day leadership development workshop in Mumbai.
Public Distribution System: The Right to Food figured prominently during PDS talk. India has one of the worst records of malnutrition. More than 47% of children are malnourished in India as compared to Sub Saharan region, which has 27%. More than 55% women suffer from anaemia while 57% of the pregnant woman, who are more prone to this disease, suffer from anaemia. It is even higher among adolescent girls with 90% suffering from it.
It advocated the universalization of the PDS. The MPJ also support many fair price shop among various district of Maharashtra that by enabling poor and needy access to food. Many slum dwellers in cities do not have BPL cards. Such unorganized labour force needs the same. MPJ is running a campaign for these groups to enable them BPL and Antodayya cards. Justice Wadhwa, who was on recent Maharashtra visit, gave a patient hearing to MPJ cadres.
MPJ cadres believe that the government’s plan to directly transfer the cash too would not be very successful. ‘The PDS should be based on Protein-Energy based so that edible oil, pulses, millet and sugar are included.’ They also want that in rural areas and in poor slums Aganwadis should be set up based on population size for proper uptake of children and pregnant or lactating women.
Health care: A cause of concern at the workshop was recent Maharashtra state government to hike the fees of hospitals attached to medical colleges. The hike varies from 100 to 300% in diagnosis, case paper, medical test, surgeries, medicines, etc. The government aims at generating revenue. MPJ has, however, demanded it to be withdrawn as it will only “lead to chaos and agony of poor and create more hurdles in health care access.”
It also argued that emphasis should be laid more on clean drinking water, sanitation, hygiene and diet in all poor localities of the state. “Accountability and transparency should be made especially in areas of health care system”.
MPJ has also appealed to the government to “universalize PDS and health care so that leakages are plugged and there is no exclusion among the poor.”
MPJ also emphasized on awareness of the Right to Information (RTI) as an important tool to empower the people, in getting their due rights.
Encouraged by its success, MPJ is planning many similar programs in several parts of the state in near future.