6th July, 2010 the government has announced that an integrated action plans for 35 Naxalite-affected districts in nine states; committing Rs 13,742 crore for economic development as well as proper implement of the Panchayats Extension to Scheduled Areas (PESA) out of this Rs 1,602 crore has been earmarked for education. This gesture is meaningless in the light of the fact that existing infrastructure like schools are not being allowed to function as they should.

As of now over 50 school buildings in Jharkhand have been taken over by CRPF on a permanent basis and 43 school buildings have been taken over on an off-and-on basis.  The Gram Sabha’s consent was not even sought. If schools do not function, the mid-day meal also is not given to children. The sad fact is the mid-day meal is the only ‘full meal’ most children get to eat. Apart from this is the fact that even if the school is not occupied by the para-military forces, their very presence in the vicinity and their brutal behaviour with people has created a fearful atmosphere in the village preventing children from going to school.

In November 2009, the Jharkhand High Court, in response to a petition filed by PUCL-Ranchi, ordered the CRPF to vacate all school buildings within six months. Six months have passed, but the High Court order has not been complied with. On 17 May 2010, CRPF has approached the High Court and asked for an extension of another six months, to which the courts have agreed. The point to ponder is what happens to the children who have been deprived of their school education first for six months, now for another six months? This when the country is touting its commitment to the Right to Education is nothing but hypocrisy.

Concerned and eminent citizens of India such as Dr Mohini Giri, Dr Vandana Shiva, Ms Razia Ismail Abassi and Father James Toppo gathered to appeal to the Parliament in its new session and other concerned authorities, for them to uphold the commitment made to citizens and children in particular to defend their right to education. Three letters addressed to Madam Sonia Gandhi (President of Indian Nationa Congress), Mr Kapil Sibal (HRD Minister) and Madam Shantha Sinha ( Commissioner for Protection of Child Rights) along with list of schools and testimony by educators of the region was endorsed at the press conference demanding that a proper probe is conducted on this situation and the necessary steps are taken to ensure the implementation of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education.

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Navdanya means “nine seeds” (symbolizing protection of biological and cultural diversity) and also the “new gift” (for seed as commons, based on the right to save and share seeds In today’s context of biological and ecological destruction, seed savers are the true givers of seed. This gift or “dana” of Navadhanyas (nine seeds) is the ultimate gift – it is a gift of life, of heritage and continuity. Conserving seed is conserving biodiversity, conserving knowledge of the seed and its utilization, conserving culture, conserving sustainability.

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