WHY DOES Uttar Pradesh continue to wallow in the sick bay despite producing six Prime Ministers since Independence? This ‘bimaroo pradesh’ (sick state) has come under the media glare for giving development the go-by.
Along with four others of its ilk, namely Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa, UP’s development quotient is being given a tangible and human face by setting eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). This route map has been scripted by the Women’s Feature Service, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Britain’s Department for International Development (DFID).
Inaugurating the two-day workshop in Lucknow on Friday, a key participant set the tone by saying, “Call them Minimum Development Goals, not Millennium Development goals”.
The eight MDGs are an attempt to take the country forward to destination 2015. The workshop discussed threadbare the purpose of journalism, which, it felt, was to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comforted.
Highlighting the developmental disparity in the country, Harivansh, chief editor of Prabhat Khabar, pointed out that 20 years from now, the Hindi speaking states will further recede on the developmental scale. Quoting a World Bank report, Harivansh said while cities like Hyderabad, Bangalore, Mumbai, Delhi and Noida could be compared to any city in the developed world, the four ‘bimaroo’ Hindi speaking states were leading a sub-Saharan existence. The four sessions on the first day included understanding MDGs and Human Development, Basic Education, Sex Selection and HIV and Women.
While senior journalists Rahul Dev and Harivansh highlighted media’s role in the development of the state, UNDP’s Kumar Tiku and WFS’ Angana Parekh laid stress on how to translate figures into action.
NGO Pratham’s Rukmini Banerji said she still had faith in the system. The only essential ingredient required was commitment and guidance, she felt.
Bringing startling facts to the fore, the session on Sex Selection was thought provoking. For instance, how many of us know that in spite of registration of births and deaths being mandatory, only a mere 15 per cent births are recorded in Uttar Pradesh?
Giving this information, NGO Vatsalya’s Dr Neelam Singh said the declining child sex ratio (927 girls per 1000 boys as per 2001 census) has its roots in the practice of sex selection or what is commonly understood as determining the sex of the unborn child or foetus and eliminating it if found to be female.
Former top cop Maxwell Pereira, who is presently with the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Testing (PNDT) Cell, Government of India, expressed strong views on the subject. He wanted the media to play a proactive role in highlighting the issue.
Exhorting the media to take HIV/AIDS awareness to a new level, Marsh Adam from UP+, a forum for HIV positive people, had great expectations from the fourth estate. Charka’s Smarten was a revelation. The young woman’s impassioned speech on tackling the scourge won many a heart among the delegates.