I Want To Take My Blog To The Next Level #Blogchatter

(I was tagged by Anindya to write this post.)

Moment of Pride!

Moment of Pride!

So what do you do, when you see your interview-byte coming out in a leading newspaper, the go-to paper for the youth, The Telegraph You (courtesy your journalist-friend)? Of course, you put up your collar and show it off to your family, only to be… disappointed and have your bubble burst mercilessly when they shrug off saying, “You’ve been doing this, since ages. Pshaw!” Oh well. Sigh!

 

 

I remember the days when I’d initially started blogging. To my dismay, whenever I’d introduce myself, among many other definitions, a blogger, people could hardly relate with the term. And thus, every-time the drill went like explaining what a blog is, in the simplest of terms. “It’s just like an online diary, you know! Where earlier I used to pen down my thoughts in that leather-bound diary that I used to keep, now I do so digitally…”, and thereafter was followed by the wistful nodding. Funny thing is, most of them used to (and still do) sum up all my attempts to explain blogging into a simple “Oh, you’re a writer!” After a point, when I’d thought I’ll grow tired of all the explaining, surprisingly it didn’t! Instead it became a source of amusement for me, each time I had to explain my position. But of course, there were those rare times when I found myself talking to a fellow blogger and spend the time, sharing our similar & dissimilar thoughts over blogging.

It has been almost 3 years since I first rode onto the train of blogging. Innumerous bloggers-turned-friends and a couple of meets, not to forget the sheer joy of finding so many bloggers in your circle of friends, can really talk a lot for the increase in the pursuit of blogging in today’s times. I’d started my blog initially with the thought of keeping an online journal of poems, which I usually used to scribble down somewhere and eventually forget where I had! After a few months, I added writing stories to the list of poems, a new series called Coffee Talkies, which traces the journey of two diverse people, Shoi and Ayan. Sadly, with the dearth of time in my extremely tight schedule, I have been able to write only three installments of it till date. Hopefully, I should be able to continue it soon.

The next phase would be signing up with BlogAdda and Indiblogger, two nation-wide blogging forums. Winning the BlogAdda Newbie Award and then as most of us do, gaining those crucial gift vouchers in return of blogposts, which saves a lot of real money while online shopping!!

And then, Blogchatter happened. It feels so amazing to think that I’ve been part of it since its early days of inception and since then, the circle has increased and how! It’s such a pleasure when you see so many bloggers from different parts of your country connecting with each other in a common platform and trust me, there’s so little formal about it, proving true to its name, ‘chatter of the blog’-gers! It could have been just so easily any other cuppa sessions with your friends, the banter despite being virtual, so smooth! Though being a late entrant to Blogbuddy, a recent initiative of Blogchatter, I feel glad to be a part of it, though sadly I wish I could contribute to it way more than I probably could.

In recent times, there have been several instances when I have found myself surprised when it has come to blogging. The first one would be the moment when I came across the blog of a friend of my brother, which not only was started way back almost 9-10 years ago, but is also a wonderful blog with a considerable number of followers, of course. To think the tenacity, the passion revolving the blog, to be a part of the blog for almost a decade, is so awe-inspiring.

The second time I’d felt humbled was the time when a high-school bestie, with whom I didn’t have much of a contact these few years, happened to reveal to me an interesting fact, during one of our recent meets. While I’d been telling him yet another funny escapade of me with life, he had looked at me quite wistfully and said, “You might not know this, but I had saved your story of exploring new places with your dad, but you and not your dad leading the way, in my desktop and I still read it at times for inspiration, for the way you live your life.” There are times when a person finds himself utterly speechless and at that moment, with the bus cruising along the empty road and the night breeze chilling us, it had been both a stab of pride and humility for me.

The third would be attending the BlogAdda meet that happened in Kolkata, my home-city, this February and the associated feeling of pride of being a blogger, standing amongst the other bloggers in the historical Oxford Bookstore, Kolkata.

In all these times, if there’s anything else I’d wished, I wished I had a bigger blog, going much beyond where it is standing now. I’d felt this even more acutely when I started writing in association with Child Rights and You (CRY), a nation-wide organization, which works for the protection of child rights across different parts of India. I wished I could reach out to even more audience, to share and enlighten even more people about the plight of these children. And thus when the offer came from Blogchatter to take my blog to the next level, of course I just had to say yes!

For, I want to take my blog to the next level with Blogchatter.

I now tag Shinjhini to write her take on the topic. Cheers!

WILL BUDGET FY17 GIVE CHILDREN THEIR DUE?

Photo Courtesy: Sammya Brata Mullick

Photo Courtesy: Sammya Brata Mullick

After the tabling and presentation of the financial budget of the term 2016-17 by the Indian government, in a profounding statement released by Komal Ganotra, Director, Policy, Research and Advocacy, CRY, it was quoted as: “The non-voting population of the country has yet again not received adequate resources in the Union Budget 2016-17. The increased outlays in social sector in the 2016-17 Union Budget has focused marginally on children’s issues.”

What led to such a statement that reeks in disappointment? What were the expectations that the government failed to deliver upon? In association with Child Rights and You (CRY), the nation-wide NGO which leads the crusade for the protection of children’s rights across different parts of India, this blogpost is the first of the two-blogpost series, that intends to take into account the expectations regarding the allocation of the child budget of this financial term for the 333.2 million children, who by their sheer numbers and importance, have a significant 40% share of the Indian population. In the background of the recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission, and changing ratios and fund devolutions, it is clear that states have differential absorption as well as fund allocation capacities. This year will be crucial to see how the budgetary restructuring is likely to impact children. The budgetary allocations for children should reflect the government’s intent of treating children as “supremely important assets”.

According to CRY, for the citizens under 18, the children, here are the 18 expectations that are liable to be expected from this year’s budget:

For the age group of 0-6 years

  1. Increased budget and coverage under ICDS: Allocation for the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) needs timely and sufficient budgetary allocations, so that all six services of the ICDS are effectively implemented and the ICDS is properly restructured.
  2. Investment in skilled anganwadi workers: Budgetary investment in skilled human resources is non-negotiable to ensure health and development of these children.
  3. Budget to fight against hunger and malnutrition: Focused investment needs to be carried out for addressing the problem of under-nutrition.
  4. Complete immunization coverage: The government should ensure adequacy of investment to achieve the goals envisaged in Mission Indradhanush. Also, while finalizing the National Health Policy 2015, the government should define a plan for investments in improving the health of children.

For the age group of 6-14 years

  1. Budgets to bridge infrastructure gaps in RTE: The Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act (RTE), 2009 has finished five years now. However, three-year and five-year targets of the RTE Act have not been successfully met.
  2. Increased resources for qualified teachers: The next phase of the RTE will undoubtedly require focusing on aspects of quality teaching and improving learning outcomes.
  3. Enhance allocation to make primary education more inclusive: There have been major gaps in terms of equity and inclusion in education, with retention rates of 49.3 per cent and 64.5 per cent among tribal children and schedule castes respectively. There is a dire need to fill these gaps in order to make primary education more inclusive.
  4. Mid-day meal: Adequate allocations should be made so that the quality of food is never compromised. A robust mechanism is also required to carry out proper monitoring and a regular transfer of funds without any delay.
  5. Adequate budgetary provisions for New Education Policy: India’s education policy is undergoing a revision after 30 years, and the New Education Policy 2015 has tremendous potential and would directly impact a significant percentage of India’s population.
  6. Investment to prevent crime against children: India needs to evolve a robust child protection system especially at the rural level. Investments on the training of staff and building greater awareness are the prerequisites for bringing about a safe environment for children.
  7. Investment to stop child labour: There is a need to invest a lot of resources for children in this age group in order to keep them away from laborious work and other forms of vulnerabilities.

For 15-18 years

  1. Step up investment in secondary education: India currently has 78.5 per cent gross enrolment ratio and only 48 per cent net enrolment ratio. Greater investment in secondary education is thus extremely necessary.
  2. Sufficient budgetary allocation for RMSA: The budgetary allocation of Rashtiya Madhyamik Sikshan Abhiyan (RMSA) should factor given that it would strengthen the framework of elementary education.
  3. Integrated allocation plan towards making education inclusive: The dropout rate is higher among the most marginalized population, with a large number of children with special needs dropping out of schooling midway. Addressing the needs of children with disabilities and bridging gender disparity is the need of the hour.
  4. Combating child marriage: At the state level, implementation of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act is not uniform as many states do not have proper rules in place. The Act needs to be backed by human and budgetary resources for protecting the rights of children.
  5. Adequate funds for ICPS: Implementation of the Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) has finally picked up; however funds allocation needs to be substantially increased this year, for the scheme to percolate in all districts and village level.
  6. Investment in POCSO: The Protection of Children against Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 though enacted, has yet to see its implementation in spirit. We need to ensure we live in a society with “zero tolerance” for violence against children.
  7. Empowering children: Secondary education, vocational education and skill-building are imperative for a nation’s progress.

So when such a statement comes from the director of an NGO, which is known nation-wide, working for the securing and protection of the children’s rights, you know, this year’s child budget has gone gravely wrong somewhere along, yet again. What has been the government’s child budget for this year’s financial term? How much has it failed to deliver upon the expectations? How bleak does the situation look now? Watch this space to know more.