SIRMAUR– Entire Himachal Pradesh is shocked by disturbing revelation made in the report of a survey conducted by the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) in Shillai in district Sirmaur – one of India’s remotest and backward regions. Shillai make about 50 percent of district’s population. Poverty stricken people are lured via monetary incentives to marry their girls including minors to men from neighboring states, mostly Haryana, who otherwise fails to find match due to overage, disability, low-sex ratio or are social defaulters.
As per the report, during last two decades, nearly 1,000 girls were married outside the state, mostly in Haryana. As sex ratio in Haryana is very low (879 females per 1000 males), men take to tempting parents of this poverty-stricken and isolated region of Himachal. About 145 of these girls were reported to have been exposed to inhuman treatment and pathetic living conditions after marriage and many were forced come back to live with parents. Number of girls married outside state reaches about 2,500 if Pachhad and Sangrah blocks also counted with Shillai, says the sources. In some cases, after marriage, trafficking were also suggested by the survey.
In these deals, village girls including minors are married to overage, physically challenged, widowers, divorcees, or socially proclaimed defaulters by luring parents with monetary offerings. Minor girls are also bearing the brunt of being daughters, born in this part of the world.
Reason: Poverty, Zero Socio-Economic Development, Illiteracy, Inaction of Administration
The reason that compelled villagers to throw their own daughters into misery was found to be zero or negligible socio-economic development of the region even after 70 years of Independence. The survey report says that the enticement of money is a big draw in the region that lacks job opportunities and where people are dependent only on ginger and tomato as agricultural options. This is the reason that huge number of people from Shillai region make up the workforce in various unorganised sectors across the state. Not all parents sell their girls: some of them are shown dreams of a better future for their daughters.
The people are debt-ridden and majority of them take loans for marriages at very high interests from private financiers. The interest rate on these loans ranges upto 120%. The region is still inflicted with evils like polygamy, costly old-age rituals, presence of aristocratic class, and drug and alcohol abuse. The social pressure of costly rituals like distributing 25 goats and 55 tins of ‘ghee’ on a marriage push poor villagers into extreme financial distress, reported Amar Ujala.
Poor State of Education, Nearly 400 Girls Drops Out of School in 1 Year
The survey further noted that 400 girls dropped schools before class VIII in last one year only, which is an alarming number. This number included girls from all sections, namely BPL families, SC, and even general category and those who were above poverty line. The SDM informed that the people could not afford to send their daughters to school as either they are poor, illiterate or semi-literate.
About 40 girls dropped out of school either in Class IV or Class V only in the SC-dominated Timbi area. The number of girls who manage to pass Class X is scarce.
It is shocking to know that the school principals, heads of school management committees, the panchayat pradhans etc. did not act at all despite being aware of this crucial issue.
After the report rug the bells, State Women’s Commission chairperson also rushed to Sirmaur district. However, Director General of Police (DGP) Sanjay Kumar defy any such circumstances and said that there are no such reports like trafficking or enticement of parents to sell their daughters. On an average 20 females are married outside the state, which is normal, claimed the DGP.
In one such case, a minor girl from Jarwa village of Ronhat sub-tehsil of Sirmaur was rescued from Jhanduta in district Bilaspur who was on the verge being sold by her own relatives. The girl made shocking revelation that highlighted this grieves and unfortunate issue the region is facing. Later, rape was also confirmed with the girl. The culprits are booked under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) Act, 2013, informed the Sub-divisional magistrate (SDM), Shillai, Vikas Shukla.
Such cases come to my notice in routine. The behavior of parents is strange and they refuse inquiry many times even when their daughter is in pathetic condition, especially outside the state. Certainly there are compelling socio-economic reasons for this. We need to find out ways to check the phenomenon,
said the SDM, Shillai.
According to Peoples’ Action for People in Need (PAPN), an organization trying to defeat the evil of child marriage in Andheri in Sirmour, men from neighboring states like Haryana and Punjab who fail find a bride for their age, disability or status lure the parents in Shillai to marry them their daughters by shelling out money.
HP Police Department on Backfoot
However, the Director General of Police, Sanjay Kumar, reacting to the survey report contended,
No particular trend of kidnapping or abduction of girls has been witnessed from any part of Sirmaur district, adjoining Haryana and Uttarakhand, during past five years and also the reports of girls from the area being married to old people for money had not been established.
But the DGP did recall a case in which two girls were allegedly sold by their brother for Rs 50,000. The case was registered in January at Paonta police station.
Five due to marital discord while another due to death of her husband. The survey report clearly mentioned that there was no information about trafficking of girls and also no clue that they were married due to poverty or illiteracy in the area or for money,
he further informed.
The district administration claims that the issue requires action plan including awareness campaigns to prevent this inhuman trend in the Shillai and its adjoining region. `Beti Bachao, Beti Padao’ committees would be set up to inform about any such marriages being planned in the area. Marriage registrations would also be made compulsory in all such cases, said the SDM.
Bahra University and Siemens to run engineering course jointly
SHIMLA- Solan based privately owned Bahra University has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with industrial giant Siemens Industry Software India Private Limited (SISW). The tie up will enable University to set up Siemens Certified Professional Learning Center at its campus.
Suman Bose, Managing Director & CEO for Siemens and Dr. SK Bansal, Vice-Chancellor Bahra University signed the MoU at University campus.
Elaborating on the benefits of the MoU Dr. Bansal said the University will start a new batch of 4-year integrated B.Tech, Mechanical with specialization in Design and Development program at their campus.
Dr. Bansal said the above course will be driven to produce industry ready engineers around broad specializations in industry 4.0 and Smart Factory, design and development, manufacturing and computer aided analysis. He said
Students successfully completing the course per stipulated guidelines will be awarded B.Tech Mechanical degree through the University and Certificate of Merit for the opted specialization in Design and Development through Siemens Industry Software India Private Limited,
Suman Bose assured to provide assistance to arrange for internship for students of University and also promised to assist in arranging industry projects for the students and endeavor to conduct conference and seminars in the University.
Himachal’s award winning filmmaker Ajay Saklani shares his journey with Himachal Watcher
SHIMLA- It is often said, every great dream begins with a dreamer. One must always remember that one has within self the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.
Keeping in mind the same talented Ajay Saklani hailing from a remote village Sihan, district Mandi of Himachal Pradesh, made the state proud not at national but even at international level by bagging two international awards during screening of his film Saanjh – a Himachali feature film at THE BORREGO SPRINGS FILM FESTIVAL (held in California, USA) where it was chosen as the Best Feature Film among 750 other entries from around the globe was and “Award of merit” at Accolade Global Film Competition.
Ajay hails from a very humble background and showed people that one should be the flame and not the moth as having passed out from a government school his dream to achieve recognition not just for self but even for state and country.
Sharing his journey to fame he with Himachal Watcher’s Community Member, Ritanjali Hastir, Ajay said,
My father was in army and he dreamt about me too following his footsteps. However, I was more inclined towards filmmaking that led me to taste the magic of theatre world.
As they say follow your passion, be prepared to work hard and sacrifice, and, above all, don’t let anyone limit your dreams so without any knowledge and guidance on filmmaking, Ajay shifted to Delhi in 2005.
There he joined RGB 4:3 Productions and learned the basics of filmmaking from Surender Sagar. He started his career as an editor and worked with some more production houses and few TV channels like Shakti TV, MH One Music, PTC Punjabi, Day & Night News to name.
His first documentary ‘Dyalee – a fading glory’ in 2006 in my village which helped him learn filmmaking basics. His second documentary ‘Upaasmar – The Taste of Hunger’ in 2011 was shot in the tribal areas of Maharashtra raising the issue of Malnutrition deaths in India and finally in 2014 after coming back to Himachal his own production company Silent Hills Studio in Hamirpur came into existence.
“With ‘Saanjh’ production I wanted to make a technical sound film that can compete with other films in the cinema halls. I hope that my work can inspire other filmmakers too and together we can promote Himachali cinema by providing with the quality work in future,” he shared.
“I feel that it was a film that fell in Art as well as Entertainment genre that made it touch hearts at the international level. As normally if we talk about Himachali Cinema, there is no such Cinema as of today in Himachal. Only a few films were produced till now and because of poor technical and creative work, those films could not make it to cinema halls or any film festivals around the country or world”, he expresses.
“Many people outside the state felt embarrassed considering the sad quality of music videos which fail to ravish visual or hearing senses; as they are also judged with the same rod. Recently some singers have given a ray of hope as they came forward with different music and quality videos. Many other singers from the state but they are all focused on Hindi and Punjabi music”, Ajay added as he contemplated on the situations one has to face considering the previous track records.
He further feels, “Cinema on the other hand is still untouched. As in 2011 Sanjeev Rattan’s ‘Dil Ch Vaseya Koi’ even won the National Award but due to the technical issues, the film failed to make it to cinema halls.Some filmmakers are coming up with great ideas for short films but again they are also focused on Hindi language. I believe until all these people don’t start making Pahari(Himachali)language films, there is no support for any kind of cinematic development in Himachal. Recently Siddarth Chauhan made a mark with his latest work and I feel happy that his next project is in Himachali language. It seems like a beginning of a new era for Himachali Cinema that has been neglected from a long time.”
“There is a great potential in Himachal and I receive a lots of calls everyday where people want to enter into acting or filmmaking and looking for guidance. But to their eagerness alone won’t do wonders we do need government support as well like in other states. The only exciting announcement is the financial support upto 10 lakh for filmmakers but only for short films and documentaries which again needs running from pillar to post and I can say is a herculean task. Exempting new cinema halls from tax for first three years is not taking filmmakers anywhere but support for film production in the state is better option which will also help in generating more and more tourism revenue.”
“Talking about my experience while making ‘Saanjh’ was a very difficult journey. Finding a producer or financier for a film in Himachali dialect was most difficult part. On the other hand our Himachal government doesn’t provide any kind of support for filmmaking in the state but expect a lot for the youth. Making people believe in me our project wasn’t easy,” shared Ajay as he keeps his view on talent promotion.
“As per his message he says My upbringing gave me deep insight into our culture and after coming back I realized a drastic change people in my village were trying to talk to in Hindi and the kids were being taught the Hindi and English words and were given punishment for talking in their own language. All our festivals were in disappearing stage and people had surrendered their traditions in the name of development. Actors feel ashamed to work in a Himachali film so very few actors turned out for auditions and they are happy to become part of crowd when a director from Mumbai.”
“I feel that as we don’t have a recognized language and we don’t have our own script to preserve the sounds of our language so there seems no way for the development of literature in our state. But yes, Cinema and Music can help in development of language & culture and it can take forward our traditional heritage. So this is very much important for us to have our own cinema and quality music. In all these years I learned the cinema, music and literature play a significant role in the development of language and culture and so we need to come forward and give Himachal its due respect,” he concludes.
Himachal now ahead of Kerala in quality education in Govt schools: ASE Report 2016
SHIMLA- Annual Status of Education Report (ASER)-2016 in its 11th Annual Report released in New Delhi confirmed that Himachal Pradesh now stood ahead of Kerala in the field of quality education in schools. The survey indicated that government schools of the state were leading and doing better than other states in terms of learning outcomes.
State Project Director of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan,Ghanshyam Chand said that ASER was the largest annual household survey of the children in India that focused on status of schooling and basic learning. ASER visited almost 15,630 government schools in rural India. In Himachal Pradesh 283 schools were visited during the survey. As many as 15 organizations participated in ASER-2016 across the state.
The report ASER-2016 found enrolment rate of students in the age group 6 to 14 in Himachal Pradesh to be 99.8 per cent. The State secured first rank in achieving learning outcomes in basic reading and mathematics across the country.
In language category the achievement level of government schools of Himachal Pradesh was 65.3 per cent as compared to the national level of 41.6 per cent. In mathematics the achievement level of the state was 47.4 per cent as compared to the national level of 21.1 per cent. The government schools have performed better than private schools throughout the state in mathematics.
In learning of English language, significant improvement was observed in the State. At national level the achievement status is 15.3 per cent whereas it is 44 per cent in case of Himachal Pradesh. In English the State stands at 5th position.
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