By the Brahmaputra (Vol: 17)
(For the quarter January – March 2012)
My dear friends and colleagues: Twelve years ago, on a cold January day in New Delhi, my CA, Praveen Jain, and I, having received the support and signatures of a Board of Trustees, headed by the distinguished economist and institution-builder, Dr. VA Pai Panandiker, for the creation of a Centre for North East Studies and Policy Research, got the formal legal registration of C-NES. What a long time ago it seems!
It was just yesterday – when with hardly any staff, few funds and no offices but the goodwill, cooperation and support of our Trust members and Advisory Council, we began our work. For nearly a year, we functioned out of a small room near my home in Delhi provided to us by Swaminathan Aiyar, the editor and economist. Then, slowly projects, partnerships, plans, programs and people as well as funds started trickling in. We moved to our first modest office in Delhi while in Guwahati, the Rashtriya Grameen Vikas Nidhi, then headed by Dr. Mahfuza Rahman, agreed to provide us space as our first permanent staffer, Sanjay Sharma, joined in the North-east.
Today, we have an office in Delhi and a regional one in Guwahati with 15 smaller offices for our flagship programme, the Boat Clinics of the Brahmaputra; our work encompasses and enhances the opportunities for health care of the poorest and most vulnerable and marginalized of the saporis – and it goes beyond that with the community radio station which has been established at Maijan Ghat and which I think is one of the most exciting developments in our work over the past decade, education for children on the islands, solar power and veterinary care outreach to name just a few. And these initiatives are focused on the socially and geographically excluded, the populations which have lived for generations on the islands of the river, and have been outside the reach of government programmes and private philanthropy.
From a team of three, we are nearly 300 today. From a tiny budget, we have grown extensively. And from the 12,000 island residents in Dibrugarh’s saporis that we first covered, we now have reached over 700,000, or about 25 percent of the total island population of Assam in 13 districts. These are significant milestones and we shall go further.
Of course, we have other programmes – a whole range of them:
- Our environmental work on protecting the highly endangered river dolphins (xihus) which became the State Aquatic Animal in 2008 directly as a result of our advocacy. Indeed, what was truly satisfying was the transformation of the poachers who became conservationists as a result of their inclusion in the programme
- Our partners continue to work in the field of dolphin conservation adding the focus of livelihoods and tourism (eco-tourism)
- A study of vehicular air pollution in Shillong (Meghalaya) and Guwahati (Assam) and its recommendations which have been shared with media and policy makers
- We have organized a number of fellowships and workshops for media practitioners, including awards funded by the UNHCR
- We produce the North East File which functions as a quarterly compilation of news of significance for the region and its neighbourhood for subscribers in the region and outside, including diplomatic missions (I would urge all to press for more subscribers!)
- The print and visual media have been a consistent support by giving extensive and detailed reportage of our programmes, long-term work and carrying our views and concerns
- Today, we have our own Community Radio Station in Dibrugarh which is expected to start broadcasting later this year
- Indeed, senior figures of the media are also prominent members of the Board of Trustees (Ms. Patricia Mukhim, editor of the Shillong Times) and Advisory Council (Mr. Arnab Goswami of Times Now, Mr. Pradip Phanjoubam of the Imphal Free Press, Mr. BG Verghese, the acclaimed scholar-editor-author, and Mr. Sanjeev Majpuria, editor of Whispers in the Corridor)
- In addition, we have made two films, one on the river dolphins (Children of the River: the xihus of Assam) directed by Mr. Maulee Senapati, and the second one was ‘A Measure of Impunity’ on the impact of conflict on women in the states of Nagaland and Assam. These have been widely appreciated and screened at film festivals and at public events.
- Maulee and I will be collaborating on a new set of short documentaries on health this year
- In addition, I write columns regularly for the Sunday Guardian (www.sunday-guardian.com) and the Assam Tribune
Governance and Conflict Understanding
- Since our very inception, C-NES has worked at different levels to help various civil society groups from the states of our region to better understand each other’s perceptions and concerns. We are privileged to have such stalwarts of the democratic movements in our Trust such as Niketu Iralu of Nagaland and Ms. Patricia Mukhim, Mr. Chaman Lal, Lt.-Gen. VK Nayar as well as, in our Advisory Council, Devaki Jain, Mr. Verghese and Dr Sandi Syiem. They are, in addition, warm and wonderful friends, who have stood by me and all of us in difficult days and times.
- Our work on conflict is tempered by the sensitivity and concern of colleagues such as Preeti Gill, editor of Zubaan, the feminist publisher, and our teams in Nagaland and Assam who have help put together an extraordinarily powerful and moving document in ‘Bearing Witness: the impact of conflict on women’ in the two states, the film by Maulee and the exhibition by Kausiki Sarma. Unless the voices of the most vulnerable reach the most powerful, how can we bridge the caps in our ‘democracy’?
- We visualized, designed and developed the Vision 2020 Peoples Document of the North Eastern Council, through a rigorous and challenging exercise which drew together 20 partner groups and 120 members to conduct surveys, workshops and analysis of what people ‘wanted’ in a Vision Document – that has formed part of the final report released by the Prime Minister in 2008. It was perhaps the biggest survey conducted in the region, covering 40,000 households in eight states. Parts of it are being implemented by the Centre and various states – but clearly not enough is being done to ensure truly inclusive growth. The gaps remain visible and are far too extensive.
- I have been privileged to be a member of various major official Committees to review Government policy – these have included the Committee to Review the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, the Advisory Council of the National Disaster Management Board, the Planning Commission’s Task Force on Development of Himalayan Hill Regions, the Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution and earlier the first National Security Advisory Board. I was most recently on the Planning Commission’s National Steering Committee on Health to mandate and prioritize the focus areas for the 12th Five Year Plan. At every forum, I have sought to bring C-NES’ focus and priorities to bear on the discussions and decisions, sensitizing national policy to regional concerns.
- In addition, I also am a member of the Executive Board of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, the Governing Board of the Society for Development Communications which publishes the pioneering and bold environmental magazine Down to Earth and most recently of the Population Foundation of India’s Advisory Council.
- We also have conducted an international study for the Institute of Developing Economies of Japan on trade prospects between the NER and its neighbours
- We did a detailed study on a similar topic for the Ministry of Commerce, Govt. of India., some of whose recommendations are now part of official policy
- ‘Towards a Greater Asia’, designing the architecture for a New Asia, with a focus on the NER, was a report which resulted out of the visit of Dr. Surin Pistuwan, then an Opposition lawmaker in Thailand and currently Secretary-General of ASEAN, who led a team of scholars from South East Asia to the NE.
Research and Institutions
I direct the Centre for NE Studies at Jamia Millia Islamia in New Delhi, a position that takes up time, energy and focus as we design and develop a major research and documentation institution which will bridge the intellectual gaps, address and shape policy imperatives and drive key research on a wide range of subjects. The University and its leadership has been an enduring source of support to our work.
C-NES’ partners represent a diverse and expanding base for projects, priorities and philanthropy. They include international funders and institutions such as UNICEF, the Freidrich Ebert and Heinrich Boll Foundations of Germany, the Ford Foundation, Irish Aid, domestic support from the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust (which backed our very first project on livelihoods by the Brahmaputra), the Planning Commission (Govt. of India), well as the National Rural Health Mission, Government of Assam. There are others which cover a growing interest such as solar energy and research. But funds remain a challenge which we need to meet.
As you may have noticed, we have developed a new logo to represent our ideals and the amazing complexity of our region: the rich yellow and green Bodo weaves on fabric that are vibrant with colour and fabric and synergize hope and opportunity.
Trust and AC:
I am delighted to inform you of the expansion of the Board of Trustees to include the following distinguished figures in public service and publishing: Mr. GK Pillai, former Union Home Secretary, Mr. MP Bezbaruah, former Tourism Secretary, and Ms. Preeti Gill, editor of Zubaan. With regret, we have accepted the resignations of Ms. Mrinal Pande, editor and writer, and Lt.-Gen. VK Nayar, former Governor of Manipur and Nagaland. We deeply appreciate the support of the latter and are sure it will remain with us in the years to come. Dr. Milan Baruah, friend, adviser and deeply committed health care giver to the urban underprivileged, has agreed to join our Advisory Council. The presence of the new Trustees and Dr. Baruah in the AC will enrich our work and give it depth, inner strength and greater purpose.
And finally the news that all of you are aware of but which I have held back from formally announcing: Dr. Dipankar Das, distinguished epidemiologist who has worked extensively and with great intensity at the state, regional, national and international levels – but who remains deeply committed to his homeland of the NER – will be joining C-NES as its CEO (NE) with special focus on health and other connected programmes from Feb. 1, 2012. These include the Hospital Ship which is being funded by the North Eastern Council.
As far as my own role is concerned, I shall be on a process of rediscovery! I believe it will continue to be in the fields of visioning C-NES’ growth in new areas and sectors, looking at a greater regional and international role in these fields as well as striking strategic partnerships. I hope to also look at the research and documentation aspects of our work and how I can best help the team on this crucial front. Films and media networking will continue to be part of this aspect. Fund raising will be another major focus as will be a look at rural innovation and growth, using the enormous experience of the past decade and more that all of you have brought to bear.
In the words of the greatest Assamese of many centuries and one of the greatest human beings it has been my privilege to know:
Koto Na xatiurilu
Kintu hua nai klanto
With good wishes — and with deep appreciation for all that you do, and for your unstinting support and understanding – to the next years of the adventure and the work we have undertaken.
Managing Trustee, C-NES
Solar power at Sarikholia village
The new year, 2012 started with a regular camp at Dibrugarh’s Sarikholia village attended by the Managing Trustee of C-NES , Sanjoy Hazarika (on 3rd January 2012). The Dibrugarh Boat Clinic team along with the Managing Trustee met and interacted with the villagers who gave a positive feedback on the health camps, they also appreciated the initiatives of C-NES in bringing electricity to their village through solar lamps. It may be mentioned that every household has at least one set of solar lamp provided by C-NES through Eco-Solutions, an NGO based at Mumbai at a subsidized rate. Over 100 such lamps have been distributed. The Government has also provided solar lamps. The villagers said that the solar sets are of enormous help to them, helping in their children’s study and education as well as providing recreation to families who are able to watch TVs run by the solar sets. The daily routine of villagers has undergone a change- earlier they would retire and go to bed early; children could not study after dark. Now children study till late evening after which they eagerly look forward to watching TV . Most importantly it has reduced the consumption of kerosene to a great extent and the resultant pollution from the smoke emitted from kerosene lamps which often resulted in respiratory ailments, a common trait observed by the Boat Clinic health team in the area.
Children studying under solar lamps
|A happy family posing in front of their solar powered home at Dibrugarh’s Sarikholia village|
Family Planning Initiatives:
Dhubri Boat Clinic Unit II
Along with reducing the high Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR- 390 per 1,00,000 live birth) and Infant Mortality Rate (IMR- 61 per 1000), reducing the high Total Fertility Rate (TFR- 2.6) in Assam is an important focus area of C-NES’ Boat Clinic health initiatives under NRHM. After constant awareness sessions by the health teams in thirteen Boat Clinic operated districts across Assam, people are becoming aware of the importance of FP (family planning) and have started using different methods of FP. Many women have begun showing interest in inserting IUCD to prevent unwanted pregnancies. Accordingly the teams organize IUD insertion camps in the chars by bringing experts and experienced nurses. Awareness campaigns on health and hygiene, family planning, safe drinking water and sanitation are regularly held. Motivating isolated communities influenced by superstitions and religious beliefs which do not encourage family planning is not an easy task for the health teams, working as they are, under challenging conditions.
At Dhubri’s Majerchar on 27th of December, 2011, the Boat Clinic Unit II, Dhubri conducted an awareness session on family planning and IUCD. The Medical Officer Dr Subhamitra Choudhury and ANM Najimun Nessa, trained in IUCD insertions counseled six beneficiaries and conducted an IUCD insertion. During the past year the team has conducted rigorous awareness sessions at almost all camps and organized a Mega Awareness Camp at Poraporichar on immunization, family planning and sanitation. People are happy with such health and family planning initiatives at their doorsteps.
IUCD at Dhemaji
The Dhemaji Boat Clinic team conducted an IUCD insertion camp in January, 2012. As many as 27 women from the district’s Kobu sapori village were inserted (Cu-T) on 31 st of January at Kobu Sub- centre, under Jonai BPHC. Dr Kishore Kaman, Senior Medical Officer from Jonai BPHC attended the IUCD camp with the Boat Clinic Dhemaji team led by the District Programme Officer Dulu Buragohain and Family Planning (FP) counselor Deba Kakoti. Medical Officers Dr Biswajit Talukder and Dr Deep Prakash Paul along with ANMs Julee Phukan and Riju Hazorika of Boat Clinic Dhemaji participated in the IUCD camp. The FP counsellor Debo Kakoti has been doing a commendable job, convincing people about the need to adopt family planning practices during regular awareness sessions during health camps.
At the IUCD camp at Dhemaji’s Kobu sapori
The Boat Clinic health teams have noticed a distinct change in attitude amongst the isolated community they serve, with increasing numbers of young mothers with babies clinging to their backs coming to the immunization centers. Continuous visits and interactions with residents have created this transformation. However instances remain where immunization teams are not readily accepted and met with hostility. The subsequent onset of fever after vaccination is often interpreted by the mostly illiterate community members as being an adverse effect of immunization. Constant awareness sessions are therefore held to bring about a community mind set. In this context the Jorhat Boat Clinc team led by the newly appointed District Programme Officer, Riturekha Baruah managed a commendable feat. On 26th December 2011, at a regular health camp at Jorhat’s Kathsapori village, the DPO came across a young mother who was not convinced about immunizing her two month old infant. observant DPO noticed the woman watching the health camp held at the LP School from afar. The pharmacist Deepjyoti Nath informed her that even while the woman was pregnant, she had not attended camps for her ANC checkups. The DPO went to the woman and talked to her patiently till she opened up and expressed her apprehension about injections and doctors. A counseling session with the ASHA and ANM Pratima Saikia was accordingly arranged and the initially reluctant mother allowed her child to be immunized by ANM Pratima Saikia. A happy health team returned to the Boat Clinic after the camp.
The immunized baby with her mother at the Jorhat camp
A beneficiary getting ANC check up at a camp held by the Jorhat health team
Sanjoy Hazarika speaks at international conference on North East
Managing Trustee Sanjoy Hazarika participated in a workshop titled Performing Identity: Ethnicity and Ethno nationalism in the South-east Asian Borderland region of North-east India organised in Göttingen from the 15th to the 17th December 2011.He was invited to speak at the inauguration the international conference on the North-east followed by the screening of his film, ‘A Measure of Impunity,’ on 15th December 2011 at the University of Göttingen, Germany. The workshop was organised by the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology in co-operation with the Centre for Modern Indian Studiesat the University of Göttingen, and was co-ordinated by the Competence Network on ‘Dynamics of Religion in SE Asia’ at the University of Göttingen. Other prominent speakers were Prof. Sanjib Baruah of Bard College, US, Prof. Erik de Maaker of Linden University, the Netherlands, the Swedish anthropologist Bengt G. Karlsson and Willem van Schendel also of the Netherlands, one of the most prominent scholars and writers on issues relating to Asian borderlands.
Foundation day Lecture at Assam Institute of Management
Delivering the Foundation day Lecture at Assam Institute of Management on January 20th, 2012. on “Between Peace Development and Opportunity: Bridging the gaps” Sanjoy Hazarika, Managing Trustee said that despite the much hyped Look East Policy and talks about connecting North east India and South east Asian countries, ground realities were not in favour of the region. Whereas states like Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh have benefited more from investments from SEA countries, the potential of the NE region for trade and investment remains grossly underutilized and that despite the separate policy and packages for the development of the region, much remains to be done to get that desired development. Unless the Union and the State governments provide good overall security to the trading groups; the trade policy could not be fully implemented. Moreover the look East Policy is hardly understood by even some senior bureaucrats.
Speaking about the strategic developments in the Yunan province of China, he said that under the bridge-head approach, massive rail and road projects have been taken up in the Yunan and many other strategic projects are going on to ensure Chinese dominance in the SEA region. India can also adopt this approach for the NE, but due to lack of idea and interest, New Delhi has not been able to tap this potential. “With lack of development, poor infrastructure and unfulfilled basic needs, how can we connect NE to the SEA countries “he questioned. He also spoke about the bandh culture, movement of funds, migration, health and environment.
The AIM has been organizing foundation lectures in which distinguished personalities are invited to deliver the lecture. In the past persons like Dr Scarlett Epstein from the University of Sussex, Dr Subir Choudhuri from IIM, Kolkata, Prof C Rangarajan former Governor of RBI among others have delivered lectures here.
Exposure visit for BCRS team
A five member team from C-NES’ upcoming Brahmaputra Community Radio Station(BCRS) visited Gurgaon Ki Awaz(GKA), the Community Radio Service Station based at Gurgaon, Haryana in January 2012 to understand the station’s experiences as a CRS, observe programme production processes and community interaction. Like BCSR, this station has been given technical support by the Faridabad based Ideosync as part of Unicef’s engagement with CR. Prior to the visit a self assessment process was conducted among fifteen community reporters of BCRS for this visit, four namely – Devo Pait, Pinku Gohain, Monalisa Baithak and Rumi Naik were selected .The team led by the BCRS coordinator Bhakar Jyoti Bhuyan were active participants during the visit, participating and recording a programme of their own. The team made recordings for the Gurgaon stations, about their impressions of the region, of the national capital Delhi. A question and answer session with GKA and a discussion on what people there and in the station know/think about Assam and the NE was held. A large proportion of GKA’s listeners are migrants, so there was a multi-cultural audience who had been demanding various cultural programmes and they enjoyed the performances and folk music from Assam.
Pinku Gohain, Community reporter of BCRS, interviewing a volunteer from Gurgaon ki awaz. Note that the studio area has been made sound proof by fixing egg crates on the wall.
Bhaskar Bhuyan coordinator,BCRS at a live programme answering to queries from Gurgaon listeners.
Interns from TISS
The Boat Clinic initiative has provided opportunities to students doing research on delivery of primary healthcare, education and other related issues to the islands on the Brahmaputra. Sukhreet Bajwa and Arhat Wakode, students of Disaster Management (DM) from Mumbai’s prestigious Tata Institute of Social Science (TISS) interned with C-NES from 12th February to 23rd March 2012 to develop a broader perspective on disaster management, deepen understanding of DM based on specific areas of interest and learning through a process of active involvement in specific and ongoing programme of CNES.
Arhat focused on “Conflicts amongst/ within families arising out of long sufferings during floods in the chars saporis of Assam.” After interning with C-NES, Arhat looks forward to developing a better understanding of conflicts and its dimensions on field, particularly related to Northeast India including getting a comprehensible perceptive of flood management with respect to diverse characteristics like law and order, logistics, public health associated to it. In this study, the element of community, its sufferings, its understanding and expectations in relation to the conflicts was highlighted during interactions and observations. In most cases, the family had lost somebody amongst them in conflicts. These issues being sensitive, the interaction were kept as simple as possible- the understanding was to let the interaction happen in its own flow with a degree of comfort and ease.
Sukhreet’s study was “Health logistics- prevailing systems in Boat Clinics and scope for improvement”. The data for her study was collected from field trips to camps at Dibrugarh and Dhemaji , interviews with district NRHM project coordinators, media managers and UNICEF project coordinator. The study concludes that the existing logistics system in boat clinics needs to be improved by including effective data management and imparting training to the pharmacists on drugs management. Suggestions for a socio-economic profile of the district to be prepared to dig deep into the cause of the health problems and tilt the health approach from clinical mode to social model was put forth. “One of the strengths of boat clinics is its wide acceptance among the community which can be used effectively to initiate many other programmes. Also, boat clinics can become a useful asset in the domain of disaster management as well” her report mentions.
Kalyani Clubs Awards
Twelve Kalyani Health Clubs were selected and awarded with a TV set each on 29th November, 2011 at the Doordarshan Kendra (DDK), Guwahati studio by C-NES. The organization has been the state representative of Population Foundation of India (PFI), in the PFI – Kalyani Doordarshan programme in Assam. Kalyani, a popular health series in India, is a joint initiative of the Development Communication Division, Doordarshan and the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. PFI and Kalyani have been working together for the overall goal of dissemination of information. One of the major components of the programme is to conduct competition among the Kalyani Health Club on family planning issues. Fifteen representatives from the winning clubs were present.
Chandana Borah, State Coordinator,FP,C-NES handing over the prizes to the winning clubs
Boll Team Visits Akha and C-NES Offices
A team from the German Henrich Boll Foundation (HBF) led by Dr Axel Harneit-Sievers, Director, HBF India visitedthe North East Indian states of Assam, Manipur and Meghalaya from 4th – 15th March 2012. The visit was in order to gain an insight of the region and visit the organizations project partners on site. The team also interacted with academics, media and activists and visited C-NES offices in Guwahati and Dibrugarh. C-NES was involved with the Boll Foundation in conducting a year long study “Impact of conflict on Women” the focus of which was on the suffering and trauma of women at times of conflict and the extent of Post Trauma Stress Syndrome (PTSS) and Post Trauma Stress Disorder (PTSD). Three districts each, in Assam and Nagaland were selected for the field research. Sibsagar, Dhemaji and Kokrajhar in Assam and Kohima, Peren and Tuensang in Nagaland. From Dibrugarh the Boll team was accompanied by the Research team, Mirza Rahman and Ritu Rekha Baruah who had conducted the Boll Foundation supported study released in September 2011.
At Lakili in upper Assam’s Sibsagar district, once a flourishing capital of the Ahom dynasty and culturally rich, where filming and interviews for the study were done, the Boll team interacted with members of the community, most victims of armed conflict. Each household here has a sufferer. In the community constructed hall where people got together, staged plays and organized community functions, there was a spontaneous gathering of people, both men and women, in large numbers, to interact with the team and share their feelings of anguish and the ordeals they went through during times of conflicts. They could do so with ease, having reached a comfort level with the researchers while they were conducting their study here. Appreciating the community effort in the construction of the hall, Dr Axel also made a personal donation to develop it to villager Pushpa Konwar. Social activist and an opponent of the local insurgent group, villager Pabitra Phukan who was subsequently blacklisted by that group pointed out the futility of armed struggle while addressing the gathering. The Boll team with the researchers also visited Bokota village in the same district, this being one of the main areas from where cadres for the insurgent groups were recruited.The film was screened here a day before the Boll teams visit. The team interacted with the victims of armed conflict Phulprabha Mohan and the couple- Jogamaya Mohan and Priyaram Mohan.
The Boll team with the researchers at Bokota and Lakili
CEO chairs session on women health
Dr Dipankar Das, CEO, C-NES attended the Regional Conference for NE states on ” convergence for Empowerment of Women” at Shillong on 7th-8th February 2012 organized by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Govt. of India. Dr Das chaired the session on Women’s health and Nutritional issues where the focus of discussion was on preserving nutritive values of locally available vegetables through proper cooking procedure, the essence of the ultimate thrust being on women’s education to create awareness on for up keeping health through attitudinal changes.Dr Das also co-chaired a session on Women’s Education: issues and efforts for convergence where the problem of school drop-outs was addressed and a suggestion for combining formal education with informal education at the household levels through a kitchen table cabinet was put forth. In the open discussion Dr Das raised the good examples of some positive approaches by certain sections of women from NER.
C-NES’ tribute to the Bard of the Brahmaputra
The India International Centre (IIC) and C-NES brought together singers and musicians from the North East in a musical evening to pay tribute to the legendary Dr. Bhupen Hazarika, perform some of his repertoire as well as their own compositions on February 18, 2012 at the IIC main auditorium. Introducing the evening, Sanjoy Hazarika, Managing Trustee of C-NES, spoke of how Dr. Hazarika’s music transcended the region and South Asia and that this was represented by the three performing groups
The performers included Mayukh Hazarika, nephew of the great singer, his wife, Laili Dutta-Hazarika, with a team of musicians from Guwahati and Rabindra Kalita, Executive Director Marketing, Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd., who is a well-known amateur singer in Assamese.From Nagaland come the remarkable Nagaland Singing Ambassadors under Lipokmar Tzudir, who have performed across India, singing 19th and 20th century choral compositions. From Manipur was the ‘father’ of the Naga blues, Rewben Mashangva, who has revived the musical traditions of his Tangkhul community, accompanied by his son, 11 year old Saka.
The program was supported by the OIL India Ltd and the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation and is part of C-NES’ sustained efforts to bring different aspects of the NER, including its cultures, to the knowledge and understanding of larger audiences across the country.
The performance at the India International Centre had been preceded by an open air performance the previous evening to 600 persons, mostly youth and students, at Jamia Millia Islamia, by the Nagaland Singing Ambassadors directed by Lipokmar Tzudir and Rewben and Saka. That programme was organized by CNES at Jamia which is directed by Sanjoy Hazarika who holds the Saifuddin Kitchlew Chair at the University. The programme was launched by Mr. Hazarika and Prof. Rashid, Pro Vice Chancellor; the performances included dances and music from Manipur, Sikkim and the vigorous Bihu of Assam.
(left ) Mayukh Hazarika, nephew of the great singer, his wife, Laili Dutta(right)- Rewben Mashangva, , accompanied by his son, 11 year old Saka performing at the musical evening
Delivery by Barpeta health team
A baby boy was delivered on 16th February, 2012 at Barpeta’s Sargaon char under the supervision of the Barpeta Boat Clinic Unit II. Majeda Khatun informed the health team that a pregnant woman Ramesha Khatun was undergoing labour pain. The health team went to her as she was unable to come to the camp site and helped her deliver the child, a baby boy. BCG “0” dose with hepatitis B was given to the baby. This was the first such experience for the Boat Clinic Unit-2 team. The Boat Clinic health outreach programme reaches out to the state’s vulnerable population who live on islands on the Brahmaputra with a special focus on women and children, who are the most vulnerable in difficult conditions. Providing ANC, PNC checkups along with advocating institutional deliveries has been priority with all the health teams especially crucial for a state like Assam which has India’s worst Maternal Mortality rate at 480, higher than Bihar or Uttar Pradesh, and a high Infant Mortality Rate.There have been nine successful, safe deliveries conducted on the boat clinics till date – Four in Dibrugarh, two in Dhemaji, one in Barpeta, one in Jorhat and this one in Barpeta.
Awareness camp at Lotibari Char
An awareness camp was organized in Lotibari Char, on 5th December 2011 under Lakhipur, BPHC Goalpara. Hasina Khatun, ASHA Facilitator helped the Boat Clinic team in conducting the session along with Sahinur Islam, pharmacist who briefed the gathering on various issues like health and hygiene, malaria, RI, ANC, PNC check ups and how to prevent oneself from different diseases and the symptoms. Hasina Khatun, ASHA Facilitator, spoke on Family Planning methods. DPO Hingulas Khakhalary conducted an interactive question answer session to ensure better understanding on the topics that were dealt with and also spoke about the importance of education for a society to progress.
Annual Review Meeting at Kaziranga
A two and a half day C-NES Annual Review Meeting was organized at the world famous Kaziranga Wild Life sanctuary in Assam, along the banks of the Brahmaputra in an equally picturesque backdrop- the Wild Grass Resort, Kaziranga from 29th February to 2nd March 2012. Over 70 C-NES staff comprising of Medical Officers, District Programme Officers, from the 15 Boat Clinic Units along with the organizations education, family planning, community radio team and members from the Regional Office, Guwahati attended the Meeting led by the Managing Trustee, Mr. Sanjoy Hazarika and the newly appointed CEO of C-NES, Dr Dipankar Das. Eminent Trustees of the organization including Dr VA Pai Panandiker, Chairman, Board of Trustees, Dr Jayanta Madhab, Economist Mr GK Pillai, former Union Home Secretary, Mr MP Bezbaruah, former Union Tourism Secretary, Ms Preeti Gill, editor, Zubaan and Mr Niketu Iralu, social activist from Nagaland were present. The resource persons for the Meeting included Ms Jeroo Master, Chief, Field Office and Dr PN Borah, State Progarmme Manager, NRHM, Assam
“Time has come for the people of the North East to take things in your hand’ said Mr Pillai, delivering the special address on “Perspective of the region and India: views and vision from Delhi “ at the meet adding further that the region must learn to “solve its own problem and not expect Delhi to come and solve it”. People have to decide for themselves, he said and that the 10% allocation the region is entitled to now will not last for too long. People from the region therefore, should keep pace and take advantages as they come, as global citizens. People from the North east are already making a name for themselves in the rest of the Indian cities, more so in the hospitality sector. He said that issue such as misgovernance in the grass root level common in the region was because at the lowest level there are not to many trainings conducted to train people. Trainings for Block Development officers, clerks, constables are vital in order to make them more responsive on the field. “I cannot imagine an India without North East India” he concluded revealing his obvious fondness for the region. Earlier the welcome address was delivered by Dr Das and the introductory session saw the Trustees being felicitated with colorful ethnic gamochas (towels) and wooden rhinos as mementoes- the latter symbolic of the meeting venue at Kaziranga which is famous for its one horned rhino.
The opening remarks where made by the Managing Trustee, Mr Hazarika who said that he was happy to have everyone together “I think of how we stated 12 years ago and how slowly over the years we have worked in different fields .We had a staff of 4 then, now we are over 250, from one district (Dibrugarh) we are now in 13 districts. We have to be clear that our goal and mission is constantly to reach the poor and unreached. We have to keep our minds open- to each other and to the issues around us”, adding further that “You should think of yourself as extremely privileged as people with a special calling, to served the needy and the unreached”
Speaking on the occasion Chairman Board of Trustees Dr Pai Panandiker said that he considered HEE- Health, Education and Employment as most important for any development . “If we do not have all the three, no individual or family can grow” he said. He asked the C-NES team to contribute in their own area in their own way in the lives of children and women. “We as Trustees will ensure that you will get all possible help. Make sure that every penny you spend is equal to quality of health. Our main effort should be to enable you to have every capability to be able to offer the best you have to the people you serve” Trustees Dr Madhab, Mr Bezbaruah, Ms Preeti Gill and Mr Iralu also appreciated the services provided by the C-NES team assuring of all possible support .Mr Ashok Rao Programme Manager thanked the trustees and the staff for attending the meet . Soon followed a panel discussion on “What do the people we serve really care about” which saw active participation from all panelists and the participants. The second day, (1st March) dawned early with an hour long elephant safari for the participants including the Trustees right through the sanctuary to view the one horned rhino, wild buffaloes, hogs, herds of deer and migratory birds .This was followed by a lively cricket match at the nearby Dhansiri resort with almost everyone joining in. The afternoon session saw short presentations by the 15 Boat Clinic Units sharing their experiences and challenges moderated by Dr Das. Presentations were also made by the Education, Family Planning and CRS teams. The guest lectures was delivered by Ms Jeroo Master from Unicef and Dr PN Borah from NRHM
After hectic presentations, it was time for some relaxation, with a quiz session with Mr Hazarika as the Quiz Master. Four Teams were set up. Questions were a wide range- from current affairs, business, music, books and health compiled by the MT . This was followed by cultural performances by the C-NES team members. Melody flowed with good guitar back up by Ashok Rao and Dr Aaron Momin. The review meeting concluded on 2nd March after a break out session, presentation of accounting procedure by Accounts Manager Faizul Haque and summing up by the MT and the CEO, Dr Dipankar Das.
C-NES team poses with the Trustees at the Review meet at Kaziranga