Saturday, May 12, 2012 - 0 comments

Double Inter Tropical Convergence Zone (DITCZ)

The ocean-atmospheric phenomenon called Double Inter Tropical Convergence Zone (DITCZ) investigated by the Researchers at the National Institute of Oceanography, Goa, have investigated over the Western Indian Ocean, for its meteorological characteristics.

What is DITCZ?
  • A Double Inter Tropical Convergence Zone is a phenomenon featured with two ITCZs, one at each side of the equator.
  • About 10 degrees north or south of the equator there forms a region of convective activity which is called the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). Sometimes, on the opposite side of the equator, another ITCZ forms which is short-lived (November-December) in the western Indian Ocean and this phenomenon is called Double Inter Tropical Convergence Zone (DITCZ).
When and Where are DITCZs found?
  • The most identifiable double ITCZ is found over the eastern Pacific during boreal spring, mainly in March and April. Weak signals of a double ITCZ exist over the Indian Ocean during November, but only infrequently. Over the western and central Pacific, signatures of a double ITCZ can often be found, but mostly during June through September. No double TTCZ is found over the Atlantic Ocean.
  • The existence of double ITCZs is nothing new. Those who follow closely tropical weather and climate have long recognized that a double ITCZ occurs frequently over the eastern Pacific during boreal spring.
  • On the basis of the limited observations, it is proposed that double ITCZs in the Pacific are more causally related to surface thermal conditions than atmospheric internal dynamics alone.

Why is this Study important?
  • The study derives significance as former studies found weak signals of the DITCZs over the Indian Ocean in November. Yet, the temporal evolution of these in the Indian Ocean could not be assured, primarily because of dearth of data.
  • Double ITCZs are significant climatological features of the tropics because of their repeating occurrence at certain longitudes and during certain seasons. Double ETCZs deserve more research attention than they have received, especially in the context of interpreting climate simulations of GCMs and theoretically understanding the ITCZ.
How did the researchers investigate?

Using a suite of sensors, including those of NASA satellites, which provided rainfall-distribution data, when and where the DITCZ existed over the Indian Ocean for the study period (1988-2005). They used these sensors, to study the different phases of the DITCZ’s life-cycle and investigated it for rainfall, fresh water flux (difference b/w evaporation and precipitation), cloud liquid water, cloud cover and relative humidity. Analysing cloud cover for November-December of the years 2002-2009 it was found that a large area was covered by clouds in the last 2 weeks of November and first 2 weeks of December. High relative humidity because of the moistening due to convection and convectively formed cirrus clouds in the upper troposphere on both sides of the equator, was observed. It was found that the values of these and the other parameters were consistent with the criteria for formation of a DITCZ. To explore the potential impacts of the El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events on DITCZs, daily rainfall data for the years 1997, 2002 and 2006 were analysed. A robust relationship between the two was found. This is in interesting contrast to the eastern Pacific Ocean (where they were absent during the ENSO years, 1983, 87, 92 and 97).

Why it is difficult to pinpoint how DITCZs are caused?

It is difficult to pinpoint whether DITCZs are caused by oceanic processes, the atmospheric dynamics or a combination of both due to the contribution of various ocean atmospheric processes and their feedbacks to a different degree in different regions.



S.No.    Organisation

1. Babbar Khalsa International
2. Khalistan Commando Force
3. Khalistan Zindabad Force
4. International Sikh Youth Federation
5. Lashkar-e-Taiba/Pasban-e-Ahle Hadis
6. Jaish-e-Mohammad/Tahrik-e-Furqan
7. Harkat-ul-Mujahideen/Harkat-ul-Ansar/Harkat-ul-Jehad-e-Islami
8. Hizb-ul-Mujahideen/ Hizb-ul-Mujahideen Pir Panjal Regiment
9. Al-Umar-Mujahideen
10. Jammu and Kashmir Islamic Front
11. United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA)
12. National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB)
13. People’s Liberation Army (PLA)
14. United National Liberation Front (UNLF)
15. People’s Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (PREPAK)
16. Kangleipak Communist Party (KCP)
17. Kanglei Yaol Kanba Lup (KYKL)
18. Manipur People’s Liberation Front (MPLF)
19. All Tripura Tiger Force
20. National Liberation Front of Tripura
21. Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)
22. Students Islamic Movement of India
23. Deendar Anjuman
24 Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) -- People’s War, All its formations and front organizations
25. Maoist Communist Centre (MCC), All its formations and Front Organisations
26. Al Badr
27. Jamiat-ul-Mujahideen
28. Al-Qaida
29 Dukhtaran-e-Millat (DEM)
30. Tamil Nadu Liberation Army (TNLA)
31. Tamil National Retrieval Troops (TNRT)
32. Akhil Bharat Nepali Ekta Samaj (ABNES)
33. Organisations listed in the Schedule to the U.N. Prevention and Suppression of Terrorism (Implementation of Security Council Resolutions) Order,2007 made under section 2 of the United Nations (Security Council) Act, 1947 (43 of 1947) and amended from time to time
34. Communist Party of India (Maoist) all its formations and front organisations
35. Indian Mujahideen and all its formations and front organisations.

Source :

A Small Step towards Dignity of Labour


Sarita Brara*

Raghunath Lohar, an aeronautical student was walking past a construction site when he saw woman carrying bricks on her head lose her balance. A heavy brick fell on her foot and broke her toes. He felt bad for the woman but more than that this incident raised several questions in his mind. What for is he an engineer if he cannot devise an implement that could help lessen the burden of these people. He started thinking of ways on how this could be done. Then he saw an advertisement from the National Innovation Council which called for proposals on models that could reduce the drudgery of the workers. This gave him an incentive to start working on what he had been thinking ever since he saw the woman labourer break her toes. Finally he was able to design a vessel desk. Bricks and other material could be put in this vessel and the light desk to carry it was so designed that it distributed the burden on the two shoulders instead of the whole weight falling on the head. Also there was no question of losing the balance with this implement. He sent the design to National Innovation Council. His model was selected for the award which carried a cash prize of 50,000 rupees. The vessel desk can be used by both men and women.Raghunath has also designed different kinds of attachments to go with the model for use separately by farmers or other workers to reduce their drudgery. Also the model suits the Indian conditions. Raghunath says that it cost him between 700 to 800 rupees to make this model. He feels that the model can be improved upon and produced on a large scale for use by construction workers.
We often see women young and old carrying loads of bricks and other construction material on their heads or men carrying huge sacks of food grains and other stuff or these people breaking stones at construction sites in severe weather conditions risking all kinds of injuries. Also we see men with bare bodies getting into manholes to clean sewers without any safe guards or proper implements. While science and technology in our country has advanced by leaps and bounds very little thought has gone into manufacturing simple and low cost implements that could reduce the risks of injury, pain and physical burden and drudgery of the working class.
These questions had bothered him says Sam Pitroda, the Chairman of the National Innovation Council. Mr.Pitroda says that attention has for too long been focused on the problems of the rich and there was a need for Indian model of inclusive innovation that focused on the poor and the common man.
The Council therefore decided to make a beginning by the launch of ‘The Challenge’ last year seeking innovative ideas in the areas of design improvement of work implements, new equipment, techniques for different kind of workers to reduce their drudgery. The challenge was not only to work on implements, processes, and models that could improve work conditions, but these innovations should not lead to labour displacement.
More than 450 proposals and designs of models were received this year. Six of them were selected for the first ever innovation awards of this kind. Among the six winning innovations was a low cost cycle for the physically challenged. Although in the developed countries, the physically challenged are not dependent on others because they have different kinds of aids that help them in coping with their day to day life. In our country unfortunately even simple gadgets have either not been devised or made available to the physically challenged to make their life less dependent on others.
The proposal came from three young men from Chennai. The Cycle is for the disabled without hands. What motivated them to work on this model?
Once when the three young men Mahesh PV, Ajith T Alex and Anand Ganesh were travelling they saw a one-handed person getting into the bus with great difficulty. That time they took the decision that some transportation facility has to be made for reducing the difficulty of a handless person. Then during a brain-storming session they decided to start working on a cycle that could be driven by people who lost their arms and hands. This cycle is not only cost effective but eco-friendly as well.
The three young men are now continuing their talks with the government for further expansion to reach the needy and reducing their difficulty and dependence on others.
Their challenge now is to work on a cycle that could be driven by a physically challenged person who does not have either hands or feet.
Manjunath’s display Unit for small Hawkers and Street Vendors was also selected for the award.
Manjunath was already working on Street vendors in his Master's thesis Projects. So he could use the case study of his thesis the Post Your Ideas Program by National innovation council.
This model is for Direct and semi-processing retail products. There are some limitations like the size of the products but it is transformable furniture and can be moved quickly and easily. It’s handy and can be moved from one place to another without any difficulty. The material used to make the product can be recyclable plastic. The idea behind his model is also to save the space which is shrinking with increasing population
Jitendra Das, former Asst Engineer with KMC Kolkata says that all his life he had been seeing the workers getting into manholes and cleans sewerages and that is why he created the model of a picking Grab for sanitation workers without exposing hands.
The ideas generated by this first innovation challenge says the Council is just a starting point to involve the wider community to solve the problem of the bottom of the pyramid. What the chairman the National Innovation council wants is a legislation focused on dignity of labour. He says that to start with at least at the construction sites of projects that are funded by the government, the workers should be provided with facilities like portable toilets and implements like wheel barrow.
The council has taken the first step to provide dignity to labour by the launch of the innovative challenge for implements to reduce the drudgery of the workers, the onus is now on the polity of the country to ensure through laws that every worker in the country gets at least minimum basic amenities and are given the dignity they truly deserve. (PIB Feature.)
* * * *
May 1st is International Labour Day.


Improving the Justice Delivery System in the Country

-         K. K. Pant

            Several initiatives have been taken from time to time to improve the justice delivery system and for making it affordable and accessible to the common man all across the country. Increasing access by reducing delays and arrears in the system has also been the constant endeavor of the Union Government. These initiatives of the Union Government inter-alia include measures for strengthening the judicial system, reviewing the strength of the judges from time to time and setting up of part time/special courts, improving infrastructure in the courts and increasing use of ICT for court management as well as for providing citizen-centric services at all levels starting from Supreme Court/ High Courts to the district and subordinate courts. Some of the initiatives are as follows:
  1. The disposal of cases has been accelerated by undertaking special drives, the recent one being from 1st July, 2011 to 31st December, 2011. Of late, the Government has set up a National Mission for Justice Delivery and Legal Reforms which will be addressing the issues of delays and arrears in the judicial system as well enforcing better accountability at all levels through a variety of methods which will include setting and monitoring of performance standard, enhancement of capacity through training at various levels etc. 

  1.  Fast Track Courts were constituted as per the recommendations of the 11th Finance Commission. For these courts a provision of Rs. 502.90 crore was made for 2000-05. This scheme was extended later till 2010-11. As per the reports received, 1192 fast track courts were functional in the country as on 31.3.2011. Nearly 33 lakh cases were disposed of by the fast track courts over a period of 11 years of central assistance from 2000-01 to 2010-11.
            The 13th Finance Commission has recommended a grant of Rs.5,000 crore for the states over a period of 5 years between 2010-2015. The amount will be provided as a grant to the States for various initiatives such as:
(i)               Increasing the number of court working hours using the existing infrastructure by holding morning / evening / shift courts;
(ii)             Enhancing support to Lok Adalats to reduce the pressure on regular courts;
(iii)           Providing additional funds to State Legal Services Authorities to enable them to enhance legal aid to the marginalized and empower them to access justice;
(iv)           Promoting the Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanism to resolve part of the disputes outside the court system;
(v)             Enhancing capacity of judicial officers and public prosecutors through training programmes;
(vi)           Supporting creation or strengthening of a judicial academy in each State to facilitate such training;
(vii)         Creation of the post of Court Managers in every judicial district and High Courts to assist the judiciary in their administrative functions; and
(viii)       Maintenance of heritage court buildings.
An amount of Rs. 1,353.623 crore  has already been released to the States on this account. 
  1.  Under the central sector scheme of Computerization of the District and Subordinate Courts (e-Courts Project) in the country and for up-gradation of the ICT infrastructure of the Supreme Court and the High Courts, a total of 9,914 courts (out of 14,229 courts) have been computerized in the country as on 31.03.2012. Remaining courts will be computerized by 31.3.2014. In the second phase, digitization, library management, e-filing and establishment of data warehouse are expected to be added to the ongoing computerization and citizen-centric services.
  2. The Gram Nyayalayas Act, 2008 has been enacted for establishment of Gram Nyayalayas at the grassroots level for providing access to justice to citizens at their doorstep. The Central Government is providing assistance to States towards non-recurring expenses for setting up of Gram Nyayalayas subject to a ceiling of Rs. 18.00 lakh per Gram Nyayalaya. The Central Government also provides assistance towards recurring expenses for running these Gram Nyayalayas subject to a ceiling of Rs. 3.20 lakh per Gram Nyayalaya per year for the first three years. As per the information received from the State Governments a total of 153 Gram Nyayalayas have already been notified so far. Out of these, 151 Gram Nyayalayas have already started functioning. An amount of Rs. 25.39 crore has been released to the State Governments for establishment of Gram Nyayalayas during last three years. 
  3. A Centrally Sponsored Scheme for development of infrastructure facilities for the judiciary is being implemented since 1993-94 under which central assistance for construction of court buildings and residential quarters for judicial officers is released to augment the resources of the State Governments. The expenditure on the scheme is shared by the Centre and the State Governments on 75:25 basis, except for States in North East Region, which is on 90:10 basis. An expenditure of Rs. 1,841 crore has been incurred on this scheme up to 31.03.2012. 
  4. For legal empowerment of the marginalized people in India an externally aided Project ‘Access to Justice for Marginalized People in India’ is being implemented in the selected 7 States, with the support of UNDP. These 7 States are: Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand,   Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. The interventions under the Project are focused on strengthening access to justice for the poor, particularly women, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and minorities. The Project seeks, on the one hand, to improve the institutional capacities of key justice service providers to enable them to effectively serve the poor and disadvantaged. On the other hand, it aims to directly empower the poor and disadvantaged men and women to seek and demand justice services.


World Press Freedom Day



       M.V.S. Prasad*
Dr K. Parameswaran**

The World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) was jointly established in 1991 by UNESCO and the United Nations Department of Public Information (DPI), against the framework of a conference held in Windhoek,Namibia. This conference emphasized the idea that press freedom should be understood as necessitating pluralism and independence for the mass media at large. Since then, the World Press Freedom Day has been celebrated every year on May 3rd.
May 3rd was proclaimed World Press Freedom Day by the UN General Assembly also. This happened in 1993, following a recommendation adopted at the twenty-sixth session of UNESCO's General Conference.
The day serves to inform citizens about various kinds of violations of press freedom – a grim reminder that publications are censored, fined, suspended and closed down, while journalists, editors and publishers are harassed and attacked. It is also the apt occasion to encourage and develop initiatives in favour of press freedom, and to assess the state of press freedom worldwide.
In more practical termsfreedom of the press or freedom of the media is the freedom of communication and expression through vehicles including various electronic media and various forms of published material in printed as well as allied forms like photographs, videos etc. While such freedom mostly implies the absence of interference from an overreaching state, its preservation may be sought through constitutional as well as other legal provisions.

The Idea of Press Freedom.
Media freedom entails the right of any person to enjoy freedom of opinion and expression on a public basis. This includes the freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers, as stated in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. ICT (like text messaging) and social media have enabled the diffusion of vital information to reach the widest number of people in the shortest span of time. Equally importantly, the phenomenon of social media has also enabled protesters to self-organize, and thus engaged the global youth in the fight to be able to freely express themselves and the aspirations of their wider communities.
At the same time, it has to be noted that media freedom is extremely fragile. It is also important to recognize that it is not yet within the reach of everyone. While the enabling environment for true media freedom is improving, the harsh reality is that many in the world still do not have access to basic communication technology. Furthermore, as more reporting is transmitted online, more and more online journalists including bloggers are being harassed and attacked. UNESCO has even dedicated a webpage, UNESCO Remembers Assassinated Journalists.
States and governments too have a responsibility to ensure that national laws on freedom of expression are in accordance with internationally accepted principles as laid out in the Windhoek Declaration (adopted atWindhoekNamibia) and UNESCO’s Media Development Indicators, which are both documents that they have endorsed.
Hindrances to Press Freedom
Media freedom is hindered mainly by two factors. One is a lack of any organized information system; the other is the lack of basic skills and literacy to access, understand and evaluate information. Many sections of the society not only lack access to express themselves publicly, but they are also deprived of ways of getting information that could educate and empower them. This lack of access has become a persistent paradox against the back ground of increasing spread of the World Wide Web and the consequent ease in accessing information.
According to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), more than 60 percent of the world’s households still do not own a computer and no more than 35 percent of the world population consider themselves as “internet users” with the vast majority of those surveyed belonging to the “developing countries”. (This statistics is taken from a global study sponsored by the UNESCO).
Considering that the right to free speech and press freedom are deeply interconnected with the right to access information, it is a priority to bridge the digital divide both between and within countries. In fact, the participants at the recent 7th UNESCO Youth Forum underlined that democratizing access to ICTs is an urgent challenge. Universal access to information must be pursued especially in remote areas such as rural, remote and insular areas.
The Indian Context
In India, the constitution, while not mentioning the word "press", provides for "the right to freedom of speech and expression" (Article 19(1) a). However this right is subject to restrictions under sub clause (2), whereby this freedom can be restricted for reasons of "soverignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, preserving decency, preserving morality, in relation to contempt, court, defamation, or incitement to an offense".
For a proper functioning of democracy it is essential that citizens are kept informed about news from various parts of the country and even abroad, because only then can they form rational opinions. A citizen surely cannot be expected personally to gather news to enable him or her to form such opinions. Hence, the media play an important role in a democracy and serve as an agency of the people to gather news for them. It is for this reason that freedom of the press has been emphasized in all democratic countries, while it was not permitted in feudal or totalitarian regimes.
In developing countries like India, the media have a great responsibility to fight backward ideas such as casteism and communalism, and help the people in their struggle against poverty and other social evils. “Since a large section of the people is backward and ignorant, it is all the more necessary that modern ideas are brought to them and their backwardness removed so that they become part of enlightened India. The media have a great responsibility in this respect”. (Justice Markandey Katju, Justice, Supreme Court).
Right to Information Act
            It is against the background of the quality of access to information that has received world wide concern that the Right to Information Act 2005 passed by the Parliament acquires great significance. The act mandates timely response to citizen requests for government information.
            Under the provisions of the Act, any citizen may request information from a "public authority" (a body of Government or "instrumentality of State") which is required to reply expeditiously or within thirty days. The Act also requires every public authority to computerize their records for wide dissemination and to pro-actively publish certain categories of information so that the citizens need minimum recourse to request for information formally. This law was passed by Parliament on 15 June, 2005 and came fully into force on 13 October, 2005.
            In short, the act empowers every citizen to ask any questions from the government or seek any information, take copies of any governmental documents, inspect any governmental documents, inspect any work undertaken by the government and take samples of materials of any governmental work.  
Right to Information is a fundamental human right, crucial to human development, and a prerequisite for the realization of other human rights.  The experiences of the past seven years since the act has been in place shows that RTI has become a friend in need, making life easier and honorable for common people and empowers them to request and access public services successfully.


Red Cross – A Ray of Hope


Red Cross

 S. Sivakumar*

Red Cross Day falls on 8th of May. Back in 1963 the American President John F Kennedy reminded the world of this selfless movement and exhorted men and women to become part of this movement.
"Today as the Red Cross embarks upon its second century of service, each of us has an opportunity and an obligation to become a part of this humanitarian tradition. For only through our help is this important work made possible." : President John F. Kennedy on the 100th anniversary of the Red Cross Movement, 1963.
Polio and Malaria - Joint Exercises
            Let us recall the significant contribution of   Indian Red Cross towards the Global Polio Eradication Programme in India. The country reached a major milestone in the history of polio eradication on 13 January, 2012, where we witnessed a 12-month period in which no case of polio was recorded. Indian Red Cross volunteers and staff played a noteworthy role in the dissemination of information to the general public, about the importance of preventing, controlling and eliminating the virus that causes paralysis, muscular atrophy and permanent deformity among children, on account of polio. The Indian Red Cross has also implemented Polio Programmes in the States of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh where Polio had high prevalence.
            April 25, is observed as the World Malaria Day, the theme being “Sustain Gains, Save Lives: Invest in Malaria". The Indian Red Cross supported by the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in 2010-11 had implemented the Malaria Prevention and Control Programme in the two high malaria prevalence states of Andhra Pradesh  and Odisha. The objectives were the distribution of 40,000 LLIN (Long Lasting Insecticidal Nets) in two states and supplemented government efforts and by dissemination of knowledge about malaria and raising awareness especially at the community level.  Among other activities, the volunteers made visits to households, engaged in interactive sessions with the community members about health and hygiene, stressed on early detection signs and symptoms, cautioned on protective measures to be taken and thus educated the community imparting adequate knowledge regarding this killer disease. The Governors of the States of Uttar Pradesh, Chattisgarh and Andaman and Nicobar Islands congratulated and lauded the efforts and achievements of the Indian Red Cross Society.
 Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad's Recognition
            The Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad speaking on an earlier World Red Cross remembrance day, said volunteers were the backbone and spirit of the Red Cross Movement. He was a great votary of voluntary blood donation and has had an opportunity to notice firsthand, the yeomen service rendered by volunteers in the wake of cloud burst tragedy at Leh that had occurred in August, 2010.  People ofLeh still cherish the two sanitation units set up by Red Cross volunteers.
Blood Storage Units - Upgradation
            Regarding the upgraded Indian Red Cross Model Blood Bank, Dr. S.P. Agarwal, Secretary General, said that the Society collects 85% blood from voluntary donors and aims to achieve 100% voluntary blood soon. He added, the latest equipments such as automatic Elisa & serology processor, cold-room to store 2000 units of whole blood at 4 degree Celsius, storage of 5000 units of frozen plasma at -40 degree Celsius, equipments for component separation, transfusion transmitted infectious markers are being added. He added with hope that with the procurement of a mobile blood collection van, the society would help in achieving the target of 100% voluntary blood donation.
Functioning in Indian States
            Indian Red Cross Society's, Nellore District Branch (Andhra Pradesh) renders service to the community through Health activities and Medical Camps. It has an active Vaccination Centre and a Blood Bank,is involved with a Spastics Centre,has undertaken a Cancer Project,runs an Aids clinic, educates men on Disaster Relief and provides opportunity for youth by giving them a chance of joining Junior Red Cross/Youth Red Cross. It also has a Pinakini Gandhi Ashram which stands second only to Gandhiji’s Ashram at Sabarmathi at the National Level.
            The Kottayam (Kerala) Red Cross Branch has been involved in multifarious welfare activities in the areas of health and social welfare. Red Cross Nursing and Employment Scheme (RCNES)  is a project aimed at catering to the needs of the nuclear family in modern times, Red Cross Nursing Training Course is given every month for selected men and women. Supplying of free medicines to poor patients as per the prescription of doctors from all over the district is another noble act of this Centre. A well furnished service counter is functional at the Medical College, Kottayam. The Kottayam Red Cross Branch maintains a directory of willing blood donors. They have also conducted numerous eye donation awareness camps all over the district
            Junior Red Cross (JRC) is active in Tamil Nadu. A two day JRC training camp was organized atMelakottaiyur where 172 Juniors and 32 Counsellors from 54 schools participated. Sessions were covered on History of Red Cross, Eye donation, Personality Development and culminated with Cultural activities by Juniors. Officers from Educational Districts like chief Educational Officer & District Educational Officer also participated in this two day camp. A three day Training camp for JRC students was conducted from 1.3.2012 to 3.3.2012 atUsilampatti involving 205 Juniors and 20 counsellors from 23 schools in which sessions were covered on history of Red Cross, Global Warming , Aids Awareness, First Aid & Road Safety. 
History of Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement
            Young Swiss businessman Henri Dunant was the pioneer of the "Red Cross" activityHe was appalled by the condition of the wounded soldiers he happened to see in the battlefield of Solferino in Italy in 1859, during the Franco-Austrian war. He arranged relief services with the help of the local community immediately. What had occupied his thoughts, the aftermath of that war, became a book - A Souvenir of Solferino written in French, published in 1962 and became a passionate appeal against the inhumanity of war. Even today it is one of the most vivid and moving accounts of war, ever written. It suggested that a neutral organization be established to aid the wounded soldiers in times of war. Just a year after the release of this book, an international conference was convened in Geneva to consider the suggestions of Henry Dunant and thus the Red Cross Movement was born. International Red Cross Movement was established by Geneva Convention  Act of 1864. The name and the emblem of the movement are derived from the reversal of the Swiss national flag, to honor the country in which Red Cross was founded.
Indian Red Cross Society  
            During the First World War - 1914 - India had no organization for relief services to the affected soldiers, except a branch of the St. John's Ambulance Association and a Joint Committee of the British Red Cross. A bill to constitute the Indian Red Cross Society, independent of the British Red Cross, was passed on 17th March 1920 and became an Act in 1920. On 7th June 1920 , fifty members were formally nominated to constitute the Indian Red Cross Society and the first Managing Body was elected from among them. Tamil Nadu Branch has partnership with the National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, International Committee of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies through the National Headquarters and individuals and philanthropists in supporting its activities. In fact, the Indian Red Cross Society is auxiliary to the Government.
The Task Ahead
One word would suffice, participation. In fact, Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, New Delhi has a comprehensive Post-Graduate Diploma Course in Disaster Preparedness and Rehabilitation, under the aegis of the Red Cross Society which seeks to provide opportunities to obtain specialized qualification which has recognition on a global perspective and also provide a platform to professionals to build up capacity for training. One could become a member of this Society by visiting the url words of John F Kennedy still keeps ringing in one's ears and has its relevance even today.
The Red Cross often steps in when nobody else can, performs onerous tasks and plays a unique role based on its international standing. And for this reason it gives us, the entire humanity, a ray of hope.

May 8th  is Red Cross Day.


Country’s Longest Rail-Cum-Road Bridge Over River Brahmaputra

The Bogibeel Rail-cum-Road Bridge over the mighty river Brahmaputra near Dibrugarh in Assam was announced in Railway Budget 1996-97 as national project. Foundation stone for the project was laid in the year 1997 by the then Prime Minister of India and the work was commenced in the year 2002. This longest bridge in the country was declared as a national project in the year 2007. The work on the substructure of this project, executed by Northeast Frontier Railway, is under progress The anticipated cost for this mega project is Rs.3230.01 croreand the work of construction of embankment, major & minor bridges, station works and raising & strengthening of dykes has already been  completed on the North Bank and South bank of this bridge.  


Services on Track: Over Two Crore Women Beneficiaries Registered with MCTS



 Varun Bhardwaj*
Motherhood is a divine feeling, a wonderful experience, but it brings with itself tremendous responsibilities which call for proper care for both mother and the child. For a healthy mother and child, it must be ensured that required medical care is provided to pregnant woman and full immunization course is administered to the child. It is with this spirit in the mind that the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare launched the Mother and Child Tracking System (MCTS) in December 2009. The focus in MCTS is on the Beneficiary Based Monitoring of the delivery of services to ensure that all pregnant women and all new born receive ‘full’ maternal and child health services. The MCTS utilizes Information Technology and seeks to capture details of every pregnancy in the country in a centralised data base. It is a generic system which aims to provide information of different health services received at the individual level, by monitoring all service deliveries that an individual benefits from.

MCTS Coverage
The MCTS database primarily comprises of
·         All new Pregnancies detected/ registered from 1st December, 2009 at the first point of contact of the pregnant mother with the health facility/health provider.
·         All Births occurring from 1st December, 2009.
Unique Identification Number
The record of each mother and child is tracked through a 16 digit unique identification number. The 16 digit unique number  contains  state code, district code, Block PHC/CHC Code, Health Sub-Centre Code, Pregnant Woman code, child code and the serial number given to each mother/child.


The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare endeavoured to have a central data repository for quick reference of validated data for all pregnancies and births in India. Such a Central Database seeks to facilitate grassroots level health functionaries like ANM, ASHA, Anganwadi workers etc. in performance of their duties by enabling more effective transformation and utilization of information. It is envisaged to implement a Beneficiary Centred Approach so as to ensure delivery of maternal and child health services from conception till 42 days after delivery in the case of pregnant women and up to five years of age in the case of children so as to ensure that all pregnant women and all new born receive full maternal and immunization services.
Further, MCTS would enable roll-out of targeted health programs and schemes, for controlling of external cost and time spill-over and ensure tracking of full immunisation course for all children. It shall also lead to validation of information collected from each block/district/state at the central level, for figuring out authenticated situation at respective functional levels.
Furthermore, efficient need-based planning of allocation and management of health resources can be done at ground-level. For example a fair idea about drug stock and inventory can be made once  number  of pregnancies have been recorded at a particular level. Thus, it leads to improved supply chain management of vaccines and drugs .Also, MCTS can provide vital clues for making improvements in the system for better service delivery. The bottlenecks at the implementation level which hinder effective implementation of Government initiatives can be known and provide valuable inputs for public policy implementation. Not only this, MCTS is expected to facilitate qualitative improvement in the delivery of services to pregnant women and children of the country and thus facilitates an accelerated reduction in maternal, infant and child mortality.

Architecture of MCTS
The operationalization of the MCTS is achieved by clear cut role allocation at different levels viz. village level, Sub Centre level, PHC level, CHC level, District level, State Level and the National Level.

Village Level
Identification of pregnant women and new born is done at the Village level. The Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) of the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) has been given the responsibility of informing theAuxiliary Nurse Midwife (ANM) about the details of the pregnant women and new born in the village every month.

Sub Centre Level
            The delivery of maternal and child health services according to the agreed service delivery protocol is done at the sub centre level. At the Sub Centre level the ANM is responsible for Contacting all pregnant women reported by ASHA and  preparation of the Pregnant Woman Card( One copy to be retained by the ANM and the other given to the pregnant woman).Services are delivered according to the agreed service delivery schedule and the ANM updates the Maternal Health Card.The ANM Contacts parents of all new born and prepares the Child Health Card.
The above data is entered into a Central Database at Primary Health Centre /Community Health Centre where internet facility is available. This registers pregnant women and the details of services due (example ANC orantenatal care) to the woman along with the dates are captured in the database. The name and contact details of associated ASHA worker/ANM are also entered into the database .In fact, two distinct fields in the data base viz. Services administered and Services overdue help in monitoring and tracking service delivery at field level.

Primary Health Centre (PHC)
The Medical Officer at PHC is responsible for organizing training of ASHAs in the identification of pregnant women and children below five years of age; organizing fortnightly/monthly meeting to review the records maintained by ANM with a view to improve the quality of the record; visiting all villages in the PHC at least once in a month to supervise the activities of ASHA and to provide her necessary support; on the spot verification of the data entered in MCTS using a standard sample design.
Finally, the Medical Officer also identifies gaps in the context of providing ‘full’ maternal and child health services to all pregnant women and all new born recorded in MCTS.
Community Health Centre( CHC)
The Block Program Manager at the CHC is responsible uploading the data on pregnant women and new born in the MCTS software and generating reports related to the implementation of MCTS at the PHC level within the CHC. He is also responsible for tabulation and analysis of the verification data available through the cross checking of the records entered in the MCTS system.
District Level
MCTS performance review  is done at the district level to fill up the gaps in the health care delivery institutions within the district in the context of delivering ‘full’ services to all pregnant women and all new born.
State Level
Monthly reports of the implementation of MCTS for all districts within the state are generated and state level monthly meetings are organized to review the implementation of MCTS at the district level and identify and address bottlenecks and constraints in implementing MCTS.
National Level
MCTS cell is responsible for monitoring and analysis of the progress of MCTS in terms of data entry status, identification of low reporting States/districts and identification of districts/facilities not reporting.
The Quality of data reporting is known through data of performance of state and district indicators and cross analysis of data and services provided. This helps in identification of abnormalities and and discrepancies in MCTS data.
Also National level meetings are organized to review the implementation of MCTS at the state/UT level and to identify and address the bottlenecks and constraints in implementing MCTS. Besides, the MCTS Cell also prepares Quarterly Research Note using the data available through MCTS.
Thus, the states can take action at their own end to ensure that services reach those for whom they are meant. This is possible since the contact details of all beneficiaries to whom services are overdue along with the associated ANM/ASHA are available at the click of a mouse. As on 1 May, 2012, a total of 2,07,55,732 women have been registered with the Mother and Child Tracking System.
The Central Government on its part regularly intimates Mission Directors of NRHM in states on the progress made and gaps which remain in provision of services to beneficiaries. In addition, a call centre has been established in the Ministry of H&FW to directly contact pregnant women and parents of the new born registered under the system to verify the services that they have received. A Toll-Free facility which provides information to beneficiaries registered with the MCTS server has also been started. At present the data of MCTS is available only through private login to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and various State Governments. Although, a  full fledged MCTS portal is expected to be launched so that the data is available in Public Domain. In a nut shell, MCTS  not only facilitates closer monitoring and regular check-ups of pregnant women and reduces avoidable complications but aids strategic decision-making and need based allocation of resources also.