Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Camaign against irregularities in Ration Shops

Every month, 467 kilo liters of kerosene and 2000 metric tons of rice are being declared as unused surplus in the city even as poor families complain they are being deprived of their entitlements from fair price shops. Eleven lakh families in the city of Hyderabad are dependent on fair price shops for their sustenance.

This cruel paradox has come to light in a study conducted by the Greater Hyderabad unit of the Lok Satta Party in the last one week. Lok Satta volunteers gathered the opinion of 79 fair price shop dealers and customers served by them in Greater Hyderabad.

The principal complaint of white cardholders is they are being given only five liters of kerosene against 10 liters they are entitled to. Cardholders are often compelled to pay well above the official price of Rs. 9.50 per litre. In many cases, the 10 litre coupon is accepted by the dealer, but only 5 litres are issued. In fact, their entitlement has been reduced over the years from 18 liters to 10 liters per month. This huge shortfall is putting them under enormous financial burden.

Poor people are also put to great hardship because of the dealers' insistence on their lifting the entire quota of 10 liters of kerosene and 20 kgs of rice at one go.

The users of fair shops are people who experience regular and consistent financial stress. Therefore, it is imprudent to assume that they can pay for all commodities at one time. Cardholders should be given coupons that facilitate purchase of commodities in small quantities and in installments.

Another finding of the survey is that fair shops do not adhere to the stipulated time schedules - 8 AM to 12 Noon and 4 PM to 8 PM - making it difficult for cardholders to access them at convenient times. While the poor complain that they are not receiving their basic entitlements from fair price shops, large quantities of kerosene and rice are going unutilized.

The Lok Satta Party survey has revealed that elected local government representatives - municipal corporators - have very little control over the functioning of fair price shops. Mr. Ankaiah demands that ward committees be constituted and empowered to oversee the functioning of the fair price shops within their ward. There is also need to constitute a stakeholders' committee for each fair shop with local users, members of local civil society, local youth and women groups as members. Such stakeholder empowerment will go a long way in improving the functioning of fair price shops.

Lok Satta Party calls upon local youth to become volunteers to monitor and improve the functioning of the fair price shops. The volunteers will be trained and given logistic support by Lok Satta Party to help improve distribution of essential commodities to poor households. Volunteers may please contact 040 - 2323 1818 / 2323 2829.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Lok Satta Defends Nuclear Deal with US

The Lok Satta Party today unequivocally supported the nuclear deal with the U. S. saying it served India’s economic and strategic interests and provided room for diplomatic maneuvering.

Lok Satta’s National Coordinator Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan (Dr. JP) said that the country’s national interest should be the sole criterion for judging such deals since there are no permanent friends and permanent enemies in international relations.

He was responding to a question at a conference of youth held to mark the launching of “Jana Chaitanya yatra” by the Yuva Satta.

Dr. JP said the nuclear deal would strengthen India’s energy security, facilitate access to high technology and promote bilateral trade. Strategically, India retained its right to reprocess spent nuclear fuel, pursue its three-stage nuclear cycle that facilitates thorium use and strengthen defense capability.

Dr. JP drew pointed attention to the double standards of certain parties which defended Iran’s right to nuclearization and criticized India’s nuclearization. “To have another nuclear power in India’s neighborhood is antithetical to India’s self-interest”, he added. He ridiculed the contention that India voted against Iran’s nuclear quest in the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Authority) because it had become a stooge of the U. S. Pointing out that Russia, China and Pakistan too voted against Iran, Dr. JP asked whether anybody could say that the three countries too were U. S. stooges.

Dr. JP conceded that nuclear testing was an issue. Although there was nothing in the 123 agreement which inhibited India from testing a nuclear device, India was aware that testing was fraught with certain consequences. The Government of India in its wisdom had declared a unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing. But if national interests warranted a test, India would do so and face the consequences.

On the criticism that the deal abridged India’s sovereignty, Dr. JP said every international agreement imposed certain mutual obligations between contracting parties. It did not mean the sovereignty was violated. “The deal with the US is mutually beneficial”.

Dr JP pleads for assistance to police official's family

Lok Satta Party’s National Coordinator Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan (Dr. JP) today requested Chief Minister Dr. Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy to provide all relief and help to rehabilitate the family of Mr. E. Madhava Reddy, Sub Inspector of Police, Malakpet, who was fatally mowed down by a speeding lorry as he chased and tried to stop it. “There cannot be a more painful incident than this in which a uniformed police officer was disobeyed and run over by a wayward lorry driver in a wanton act of culpable homicide.”

Dr. JP suggested that Mr. Madhava Reddy’s family be extended benefits on the lines of police killed in extremist operations. Under the policy, the Government treats deceased functionaries as on duty until retirement and provides wages and allowances to the family. In addition, one of the surviving members of the family is provided a Government job at an appropriate level depending on educational qualifications.

Dr. JP wanted the Government to ensure payment of wages and allowances to the family of Mr. Madhava Reddy until his retirement and pension after the retirement age. Mr. Madhava Reddy’s son, aged 26 and a Bachelor of Science, be appointed assistant sub-inspector as a special case. “Such a gesture from the Government would enhance the morale of all serving policemen and give them the strength and confidence to discharge their duties in the face of danger and adversity.”

Dr. JP called on members of the family of Mr. Madhava Reddy in the morning and conveyed his condolences.

In his letter, Dr. JP said the death illustrated the malaise afflicting the public order machinery. “We have eroded the self-esteem, confidence and image of the police severely, and as a result lawful orders of uniformed officers are ignored with impunity. The culture of permissiveness is a direct consequence of undue political interference in the day-to-day functioning of the police….”

Dr. JP called for making crime investigation independent and isolated from political influence and professionalization of law and order police.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Yuva Satta Launching “Jana Chaitanya Yatra”

The Yuva Satta is launching a State-wide “Jana Chaitanya Yatra” from Hyderabad tomorrow.

Sixteen Yuva Satta leaders will be hitting the road from September 4 to September 27 and taking part in conferences of youth at all district headquarters. They will also be visiting colleges and dalit colonies in and around the district headquarters.

The district-level youth conferences, which bring all of the youth on to the same dais, will discuss the challenges and opportunities for youth in the fields of education, employment and political leadership.

Lok Satta Party’s National Coordinator Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan will be flagging off the youth campaign from Sundaraiah Vignana Kendram, Bagh Lingampalli, at a function at 10 a.m. tomorrow.

The Yuva Satta will take out a silent march from Sundaraiah Vignana Kendram to RTC Crossroads in memory of bomb blast victims and pledge to work for the integrity of the nation.