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29th "NRC-related" suicide in Assam, as Nirod Baran Das takes his life by hanging on a fan

By Our Representative
Reporting 29th case of National Register of Citizens (NRC)-driven suicide in Assam, one of India’s human rights campaign sites has said that, on October 20, tragedy struck Kharupetia town in Darrang district of Assam, when a retired school teacher and advocate Nirod Baran Das “took his life by hanging himself to a fan in his home.” The report adds, “The NRC process has so far claimed over two dozen such lives in the past four months alone.”

Gujarat govt's programme to reduce maternal deaths, infant mortality failed to deliver, says WHO study

Counterview Desk
A high-profile study, carried out by half-a-dozen scholars associated with the Duke University, Rand Corporation, World Bank, Stanford University and Stanford Medical School (all from US), and Sambodhi Research and Communications Pvt Ltd (New Delhi), has come to the drastic conclusion that the Chiranjeevi yojna of the Gujarat government, launched to reduce infant and maternal deaths in rural areas, has been largely unsuccessful. Published in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization (WHO), it suggests that the samples collected by the scholars have put a question mark on the project’s aim of encouraging mothers to deliver in private hospitals, with the government subsidizing the costs.
“The project”, the study says, “aimed to provide free childbirth care at participating private-sector hospitals to women who are below the poverty line. The hospitals are paid 1600 Indian rupees per delivery, approximately $30 to $40. The hospitals may offer additional services to patients and charge separate fees for them. By 2012, approximately 800 private-sector hospitals were participating and the program had helped pay for more than 800,000 deliveries”.
Titled “Effect of Chiranjeevi Yojana on institutional deliveries and neonatal and maternal outcomes in Gujarat, India: a difference-in-differences analysis”, its authors, Manoj Mohanan, Sebastian Bauhoff, Gerard La Forgia, Kimberly Singer Babiarz, Kultar Singh and Grant Miller, say, there was an “increase in institutional delivery rates over time across Gujarat”, but this was “unrelated to the Chiranjeevi yojana.”
The study says, “The data collected through our study indicated that implementation of the programme was not associated with a statistically significant change in the probability of institutional delivery (2.42 percentage points).” In fact, it underlines, “The programme was also not associated with changes in the incidence of birth-related maternal complications, the use of antenatal and postnatal services or the use of neonatal intensive care.”
It underlines, “Our survey data suggests that 54% of the mothers in our sample suffered complications, including premature delivery, prolonged and obstructed labour, excessive bleeding, breech presentation, convulsions, hypertension, fever, incontinence or other birth-related problems after the programme had been implemented – and that the probability of these complications did not significantly change under the Chiranjeevi yojana.”
“Even if the programme has not increased institutional delivery rates, we would expect to see lower mean household expenditures on deliveries, given that the programme had paid providers over US$ 32 million as of 2012. However, analysis of our survey data indicated that implementation of the programme had no significant relationship either with the probability that households reported any delivery-related spending, or with mean hospital spending for delivery conditional on any spending”, it says.
The study underlines, “Our findings indicate that the Chiranjeevi yojana was not associated with changes in the probability of institutional delivery (including delivery at private institutions), maternal morbidity or delivery-related household expenditure. These findings differ from those reported by previous evaluations suggesting substantial benefits of the Chiranjeevi yojana, including a 27 per cent increase in institutional deliveries, a 90 per cent reduction in maternal deaths and a 60 per cent reduction in neonatal deaths.”
It insists, “These earlier studies did not address self-selection of women into institutional delivery, reporting inaccuracies by hospitals, or any increases in institutional deliveries over time that were unrelated to the programme. The programme was rolled out in a period when the economy of Gujarat was growing by over 10 per cent per year.”
Claiming that the results of the study are “robust to the inclusion of a wide variety of control variables”, and that “the staggered introduction of the Chiranjeevi yojana does not appear correlated with pre-existing trend differences in institutional delivery rates”, it notes, “There are several possible explanations for observing no increase in the probability of institutional delivery associated with the Chiranjeevi yojana. One is that the quality of services provided by private maternity hospitals is poor or, at least, is perceived to be poor by the local population. As a result, demand for institutional delivery may be low even if such delivery is provided free of charge.”
The study also points out that – despite the support of the programme – “institutional deliveries in Gujarat remain associated with large transportation costs, informal payments or other expenses that make programme benefits small relative to the full cost of institutional delivery.” The study emphasizes, “The finding of little or no association between the Chiranjeevi yojana and the out-of-pocket costs of deliveries is more puzzling. Even if the programme failed to make institutional delivery more attractive for any women, it should have reduced the household expenses for the many poor women who still chose institutional delivery.”
In fact, the poor women were found to be “asked to pay fees for deliveries in health facilities that were participating in the programme… It seems possible that some providers are providing extra, chargeable services – or simply increasing side charges. If charges are being made for extra services, those services do not appear to have any discernible health benefits.”

Interestingly, the study comes against the backdrop of the fact that the Chiranjeevi yojana received Wall Street Journal Asian Innovation Award in 2006 and has been hailed by some as a model for wide adoption throughout India. It was launched to help address the shortage of obstetricians at public hospitals accessible to low-income women in rural areas.

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India failing to dictate diplomatic preferences of Nepal, Bhutan, is unfairly blaming Beijing: Chinese daily

By Our Representative
In a sharply-worded editorial, a top Chinese media outfit, described by BBC as state-run, has said, commenting on India's foreign relations with its neighbours, that "speculation and suspicion" is "certainly not diplomacy". Published in "China Daily", the largest circulating English Monday-to-Saturday newspaper with branches across the world, the editorial notes (September 20) that "several recent events" in Nepal and Bhutan, are "gnawing worrywarts in New Delhi".
The editorial -- which comes close on the heels of a sharp critique of India's foreign policy in a state-supported Russian media outfit, Sputnik International, calling India's anti-Pak diplomacy as having "gone awry" following Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "half-baked" push for anti-terror drill down "others' throat" -- says, the " worrywarts" include "Nepalese troops taking part in a joint…

Ahmedabad, GIFT, Adani city get 1.68 lakh acre ft Narmada water; Gujarat's rural areas just 4.27 AF: Letter to CM

Counterview Desk
Well-known farmer rights leader Sagar Rabari, in an open letter to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, has demanded a transparent account of Narmada water, saying, while he has received a "routine reply" from him to his earlier, the data emerging from his RTI application show huge quantity of water being directed to Ahmedabad, the 10 km stretch of Sabarmati for the Ahmedabad riverfront, and nearby elite urban areas, including the Adanis' Shantigram township and GIFT City.

Gujarat BJP MLAs, youth leader "incited" attack on North Indians: Cong releases video

Counterview Desk
Senior Gujarat Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil, currently in charge of Bihar and national spokesperson, All-India Congress Committee, has sent a legal notice to chief minister Vijay Rupani threatening criminal case and civil defamation suit for accusing him with "baseless statement" that he was responsible for attacks on north Indians in Gujarat.

17 lakh Jharkhand elderly, widows, differently abled do not receive pension: Public hearing told, aadhaar is a hurdle

By Our Representative
Hundreds of elderly, widows, single women and differently-abled persons from different districts of Jharkhand gathered near the Raj Bhavan in Ranchi for a public hearing organized by the Jharkhand Right to Food Campaign and Pension Parishad demanding the right to universal social security pensions ahead of World Elderly Day on October 1.

Ethnocide in Caribbean island filmed following award winning docufilm on Jamaica's anti-colonial Indian roots

International awards winner for Best Feature Documentary Linda Aïnouche for “Dreadlocks Story” (2014), which shows how Indians are entangled in the Jamaican society, and how Hinduism was a source of inspiration for the Rastafari movement, is all set to release her new documentary, “Marooned in the Caribbean”, which aims at documenting the awful desolating living conditions that Raizal people, the native inhabitants of San Andres Archipelago, endure.
Sons of slaves, these islanders have fallen prey to what the Colombian government calls Colombianization. “It’s a process”, according to her, “which kills the Raizal culture; it’s the killing of the Raizal soul. Colombianization subjugates Afro-descendants of San Andres to an ethnocide.”

Explorer, director and producer, Linda Aïnouche writes exclusively for Counterview: ***
Nobody escapes from blood and thunder in Colombia, and definitely not in the archipelago of San Andres, situated closer to Managua and Kingston than Bogota. The Raizal p…

India to deport Rohingya refugees, as the world moves towards prosecuting Myanmar for genocide

By Tapan Bose*
Seven Rohingya Muslims refugees who were held at a detention centre in Assam since 2012 will be handed over to Myanmar. The Supreme Court of India has refused to stop their deportation. The new Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gagoi said, "We are not inclined to interfere on the decision taken".

An elite Kutir set up by Modi far from the "madding" crowd: This Gandhi museum is formal, unapproachable

By Rajiv Shah
Have you ever heard of a Gandhi museum, sough to be projected as the “largest” on the Mahatma, yet totally inaccessible, in sharp contrast to Ahmedabad’s humble, approachable and unassuming Gandhi Ashram on the banks of Sabarmati, set up by the Mahatma during the heydays of the freedom movement? It exists about 30 kilometres away, its idea was conceived by none other than a person who has today become even more inaccessible than he ever was: Narendra Modi, India's Prime Minister.

Accused of being RSS plant, Modi man, Hyderabad Urdu varsity chancellor asks President to probe "irregularities"

Counterview Desk
Refused entry in the Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU), the central university's newly appointed chancellor Firoz Bakht Ahmed, who claims to be grand nephew of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, has, in a letter to the President of India, said that MANUU vice-chancellor (V-C) Dr Aslam Parvaiz has accused him of being an RSS plant and a Modi man, whose sole aim is to "interfere in the working of the university".

Post-MJ Akbar resignation: #MeToo movement and fears of backlash

By Sheshu Babu*
For the last few days, #MeToo movement has picked up momentum and many women are coming out with horrific tales of severe harassment in their past lives. They are not afraid anymore to expose famous persons including those at ministerial levels. As a senior journalist Neeraja Chowdhury opined (“An exit, a beginning”, October 18, 2018, indianexpress.com), "The #MeToo revelations are like the eruption of a volcano which was imminent, given the journey working women have covered. It was not easy to make public what they had gone through,and take on powerful men.”

History less known: Kasturba's role as an independent woman and a freedom fighter in her own right

By Nandini Oza*
Even the most deserving of women do not find a place that equals their worth in history. Kasturba is one such woman whose contribution to India’s struggle for freedom has been exemplary, and yet, it has not received the recognition it deserves. Kastur Makhanji Kapadia was born in the year 1869, the same year and in the same town of Porbandar in Gujarat as Gandhiji. In fact she was older than Gandhiji by a few months.