Archive for May, 2010
Knowledge and telecommunication evangelist Sam Pitroda, currently advisor to the Prime Minister on Public Information Infrastructure and Innovations, is on a new mission – to make India hunger-proof and food-reliant.
He is working on a draft to set a countrywide network of private food banks – resource pools he calls them – that will work as a parallel distribution system to disburse food and allied infrastructure to people living on the edge of the poverty line and below in the vast Indian heartland. Pitroda will put his project, India Food Bank, in place by the yearend with the help of a Chicago-based international organisation, Global Foodbanking Network, a Stanford University think-tank that provides food aid to 30 nations.
Statistics narrate a grim tale of hunger in India, a country of 1.2 billion that is home to 27 per cent of the world’s hungry populace with one of the largest populations of malnourished children. Rough estimates by the Action Aid, a global anti-poverty organisation, cite that nearly 212 million people suffer from chronic hunger and undernourishment in India.
The United Nations World Food Programme paints a more alarming picture saying nearly 350 million of India’s population – roughly 35 per cent – is considered food insecure, consuming less than 80 per cent of the total energy requirements. “I identify with the problem because I was born in a large family in Kalahandi in the Bolangir district of Orissa that is ravaged by hunger and is prone to drought,” he said at an interface on his new project in the capital hosted by Aspen Institute-India.
“Three years ago, I took up the issue with a group of food activists at the Global Foodbanking Network in Chicago, the global capital of commodity trading. I told them why can’t we go to India and explore the dimension of hunger and malnutrition that can affect the future of India. More than 212 million people face paucity of food (hunger) in India.”
“We have a friend in Chicago, John Kapoor, who has made a lot of money. He sponsored a fact-finding team to India that conducted a feasibility study of the project in four underdeveloped states to find out whether it was possible to engage local communities, ensure community participation and create a network of stake-holders who could source essential food and related infrastructure for voluntary donation and distribution under an alternative food chain like the sub-Saharan models.”
Pitroda, who left for the US on Saturday, said he would return in July to “socialise the idea in the country with necessary modification for implementation by the end of the year”. “The government has several food programmes but can we really organise these programmes effectively,” he argued in justification of his “food bank project”.
Commenting on the necessity of food banks to ensure “sustained food security in India”, he said “while populations grow, food resources are continuously shrinking”. “Coupled with natural phenomenon like climate change and global warming, the security of food and other resources is a worrying question. One answer is the concept of food bank,” he said.
The Global Foodbanking Network, founded by Red Argentina de Bancos de Alimentos (Argentina), Food Banks Canada, Asociación Mexicana de Bancos de Alimentos (Mexico) and Feeding America (United States), shares food banking concepts and helps partners evaluate the feasibility and most effective business model for implementation in their country.
The organisation was founded in 2006 by four of the world’s leading national food bank networks. Its objective “is to fulfil the vision of John Van Hengel, who founded the world’s first food bank in Phoenix, Arizona, in 1967 and worked to promote and establish food banking around the world”. The latest World Food Programme report warns that more than 1.5 million children in India may suffer from malnourishment because of spiralling global food prices and 43 per cent of children under five years of age are underweight.
The report says the proportion of anaemic children has increased by six percent in the last six years with 11 states reporting 80 percent child anaemia. Figures say one in five people – about 45 per cent of Indian children – in developing countries are chronically “undernourished”. Food prices have increased by 83 percent in the last two years and 22 countries have enshrined the right to food in their Constitutions.
The Vir Surendra Sai University of Technology (VSSUT) declared the results of all its semesters for the year 2010 on Sunday, just 17 days after completion of the examinations, claimed to be the quickest time for any technical university across the country. The results are also available on http://www.vssut.ac.in, the university’s website.
Vice-Chancellor Deba Kumar Tripathy thanked all the teachers for their sincere efforts in making this feasible and said this would help the students, especially the final year students, continue their future plans and pursue higher studies.
It is a matter of pride for the teachers and the students of the VSSUT since the Vice-Chancellor, who also was the Odisha-JEE chairman for this year, proved the worth of the Unitary University status given to this college in the recent past and also stood up to its expectations of conducting the JEE as well its own exams as smoothly as it could have been, admitted the students. It is a fact that the VSSUT conducted its all end-semester exams and published its results before the BPUT exams.
While Supriya Mohanty of Civil Engineering was declared as the university topper, the other toppers are Khusbu Patwari in Computer Science and Engineering, N Seetharaman in Electronics and Telecommunication, Arjun Patra in Electrical Engineering, Supriya Baitharu in Information Technology, Dilip Kumar Das Mahapatra in Mechanical Engineering, Pramod Kumar Jena in Manufacturing Science and Engineering and Tushar Ranjan Patra in MCA.
Agriculture Minister Damodar Rout laid the foundation stone of a Krishi Vigyan Kendra here on Monday
The issue of location of the Krishi Vigyan Kendra was in the news as BJP MLA KV Singh Deo and his wife former MP Sangeeta Singh Deo had tried their best to set it up at Mudhat in Patnagarh rather than at Balangir
In view of irregular rainfall and shortage of water, rainwater must be conserved and steps must be taken to recharge groundwater to boost agriculture and other allied activities, besides ensuring an overall development of this region, observed Rout while speaking on the occasion.
He reeled out the measures taken by the Naveen Patnaik Government for development of poor people through various other departments like horticulture and fisheries. The farm water pond scheme launched by the Government aims to conserve rainwater, besides proving water to crops, he said, adding that rainwater should be conserved and utilised in an optimum manner so that groundwater would be recharged and help agriculture.
“I have submitted a proposal of Rs 5 crore to the Central Government for construction of check-dams all over the district so that groundwater could be recharged, said Balangir MP Kalikesh Narayan Singh Deo. If the Bundelkhand region could get a special package from the Centre, why not a similar package with higher allocation for the KBK region in view of its prevailing backwardness, he asked.
Among others, Minister of Planning and Coordination AU Singh Deo and Loisinga MLA Ramakanta Seth also spoke on the occasion.
Orissa state govt focuses on construction of roads in maoists affected districts of Rayagada, Gajapati, Sambalpur and Malkanagiri
The State Government on Friday decided to take up the construction work of 650 km of road in different parts of the State which would cost Rs 1,200 crore. This project includes converting 250 km long one-lane National Highways into two-lane in western Odisha and widening the 400 km-long cluster roads in Maoists affected districts of Rayagada, Gajapati, Sambalpur and Malkanagiri.
The State Government is planning to expedite the construction work of Ranchi-Vijayawada Road for which the Government has written to the Central Government demanding Rs 300 crore for this financial year. The Central Government has made budgetary sanction of Rs 100 crore only for the current year.
The decision was taken at a review meeting held under chairmanship of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik at the State Secretariat.
After the meeting, the Works Secretary Subhendu Kumar Ray said that the Central Government has given Rs 250 crore for widening the National Highways No 200, 201 and 43. These highways with one-lane road would be converted into two-lane roads. Similary, in order to make communication easier, the cluster roads of Maoists-hit districts would be broadened, he said.
Ray said the State Government is willing to expedite the construction work of Ranchi- Vijayawada road and complete it soon. “But due to crunch of funds the construction work is not being done to our expectation. We have demanded the Centre to release Rs 300 crore immediately,” Works Secretary said.
BHUBANESWAR,: The Kosal Kranti Dal (KKD) has threatened to step up its demand for a separate Koshal state if candidates from the Western Orissa districts are ignored for the Rajya Sabha seats by political parties.
Elections to three vacant seats will be held on June 17.
The Biju Janata Dal (BJD) has announced that it will field candidates for all the three seats.
While Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik announced the candidature of party ideologue Pyarimohan Mohapatra, lobbying for the other two seats has gained momentum.
Anticipating that this time also the claims of the Western Orissa districts will be ignored, KKD president Pramod Kumar Mishra alleged that leaders from these districts are always neglected by the political parties.
He said that former Speaker Kishore Mohanty who was nominated by the BJD for a by-election after the resignation of Baijayant Panda from the Lok Sabha also belongs to coastal districts.
Alleging that other political parties, including Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), also always neglect leaders from Western Orissa, Mishra said that while Manmohan Samal was rehabilitated by the BJP in the Rajya Sabha after his defeat in Assembly elections, another State BJP president Suresh Pujari was never considered.
Mishra said that after the success of Congress in Western Orissa districts in the Assembly and the Lok Sabha elections, it was expected that MPs from these areas will find place in the Central Cabinet. But Congress also ignored the claims of Western Orissa MPs and inducted an MP from coastal Orissa in the ministry, he said.
Stating that BJD has always functioned as a political party representing the interests of only coastal Orissa, the KKD alleged that till now the headquarters of the Western Orissa Development Council (WODC) is yet to be shifted to these districts.
The State Government has also failed to solve problems afflicting the Western Orissa districts including suicide by a large number of farmers, distress sale of paddy, sale of girl child and migration of labourers, he said adding that these had exposed the step-motherly attitude of the authorities towards the region.
Even though lawyers from the area are agitating for establishment of a permanent bench of the High Court in Western Orissa, no decision has been taken in this regard so far, he said.
Nine industries sign MoUs to set up Industrial Training Centres (ITCs) in Orissa: Sundargarh, Jharsuguda, and Deogarh district are in the list
In a bid to impart technical education in a bigger way, the State Government on Monday signed MoUs with nine mega industries, which would set up Industrial Training Centres (ITCs) in different parts of the State.
The industries interested in setting up ITCs are the Odisha Power Generation Corporation (OPGC), Tata Powers Company, Vedanta Sterlite Energy, Emami Paper Mills, RSB Metaltech, Surendra Mining Industries, Monnet Power Company, Uttam Utkal Steels and Ind-Barath Energy (Utkal).
The OPGC would set up an ITC at Hemgiri in Sundargarh district, Tata Powers at Banki, Cuttack, Vedanta at Kolabira, Jharsuguda, Emami at Balgopalpur, Balasore, RSB at Kalyansinghpur, Rayagada, Surendra Mining at Bonei, Sundargarh, Monnet Power at Teleibani, Deogarh, Uttam Utkal at Jhumpura, Keonjhar, and Ind-Harath Enery at Lakhanpur.
The MoUs were signed between Director of Technical Education and Training Anil Samal and the MDs and GMs of companies concerned in the presence of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Steel and Mines Minister Raghunath Mohanty, Chief Secretary TK Mishra, APC RN Senapati, Industries Secretary Sourav Garg, Energy Secretary Pradeep Jena and IDCO chairman Priyabrata Pattnayak.
The Chief Minister said that as the setting up of different industries is on the rise, skilled manpower is needed in proportion to their number. “Our Government is fully committed to set up ITIs and ITCs in all blocks to impart technical education to our youth,” he said. Steel and Mines Minister Mohanty said there is an annual requirement of nearly 1,80,000 trained personnel in highly-skilled, semi-skilled, unskilled and non-executive workforce in the metal and manufacturing sectors.
Orissa govt seeks Rs 1116 cr from planning commission to set up Industrial Training Centre in maoist affected districts
BHUBANESWAR: Orissa government has sought an assistance of Rs. 1116 crore from Planning Commission to set up one Industrial Training Centre [ITC] each in 186 blocks in 18 Maoist affected districts.
The state government believes that setting up the ITCs will not only help build a vast pool of skilled manpower required for industries coming up across the state but also woo the youths fro the remote areas being inducted into Red Brigade.
The state requires more than three lakh semi-skilled manpower with industries coming up in various sectors. Only steel sector can absorb about 1.8 lakh skilled, semi-skilled and non-skilled manpower every year. The mining sector requires 1.2 lakh trained personnel. Besides, the employment intensive tourism sector and the information technology have a demand for more than 12,000 trained youths each while the growing energy sector has a demand for some 3000 skilled people.
The state government also belatedly has found out that more and more skill imparting centres had to be set up in the remote areas to foil the Maoists attempt to recruit the hungry unemployed youths into the Red Brigade. The state government’s move to set up ITCs in these Naxal dominated districts could be a good beginning in this regards, experts said.
In the first phase, the union government granted 91 ITIs and 415 skill development centres in the state with public-private partnership (PPP) model .The state government is also settwhere such institutions are conspicuous by their absence.
As part of its policy to encourage the industrial hosues to set up ITCs, the state government on Monday signed MoUs with nine companies to set up ITCs.