Sunday, January 27, 2008

Samvedana Anashan ends, but the campaign continues...

On the night of January 25, Shekhar ended Samvedana Anashan, his way of campaigning against hunger, corruption, and disease...

I personally felt that this was going to be a long campaign for him and his colleagues, just as his anti-tobacco and alcohol campaigns took years before it finally bore fruit and regulators saw the need to have rules implemented. This is no different in other countries. What matters most is that there are people who recognize the need to bring their advocacies to the people and call for awareness and support.

I have seen such successes in the ONE Campaign, World Vision, United Nations and other cause-oriented organizations where joint efforts have given a voice to their advocacies on aids, poverty, and violence.

In unity, goals are achieved faster but it's never always an easy road towards achieving them. Together, the rich and powerful...the world, will eventually recognize the need to address issues and do something about them. It may never be a hundred percent successful or fullproof. What's important is the desire to change things for the better and doing something about it.

With Shekhar's permission, I posted his e-mail announcing the end of his Samvedana Anashan. The campaign continues...but it's also time for him to rest and regain his strength after 11 days of fasting.

I know some have followed this subject matter and even put links in their blogs or mentioned the Samvedana Anashan campaign in their articles. I hope they continue to have interest and support this campaign.


Yesterday Samvedana Anashan concluded.‏

On the 11th day of the fast, yesterday evening, there was a meeting presided over by the retired Justice of the Bombay high court Mr. Kolte-Patil. The fast was broken by taking sweet lime juice, at the hands of Smt, Anusuya Mandavkar an old manual worker lady.

Samvedana Campaign to promote Integrity and Caring-Sharing, will continue.

These universal values are sure to drastically reduce sufferings in the world. Sufferrings of the rich, poor and the people between. Actually, it is the enlightened selfishness to follow these values.

Thanks for your support.

The fast was never meant to be ' Till Death '. We also never thought of hospitalization or putting me on saline.

In a way, it was a test for our endurance. AND the endurance of the PMO of the sensitive PM of India, not to take cognizance of the Samvedana Anashan.


V M Raste

Saturday, January 26, 2008

We can’t turn a blind eye...

I've read the name David Beckham several times in the news but I never really went further than read the news title so I never knew who he was and why his name was often mentioned. Well, that's because I never watch football.

When I went through the UNICEF website which I often visit, I saw his name again. Curious, I went through the article. David Beckham is a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and was featured in his travel with UNICEF representatives to focus attention on the issue of child survival.

I can understand why such famous people are tapped by the UN for worthy causes like child survival, health, and other humanitarian projects. As Mr. Cappelaere, a UN representative put it, "David Beckham's visit is important for UNICEF's global health agenda. Child survival is one of the top priorities of UNICEF. His visit will help support our global drive to improve the health of children and women."

One of the more dramatic stops on Beckham's tour was at a UNICEF-supported therapeutic feeding centre. He met with Foday, a five-year-old boy who had swallowed a chemical that scarred his throat so severely that he was prevented from eating solid food for months. Foday held Beckham's hand and joined him on a walk through the facility.

"We can’t turn a blind eye to the tens of thousands of young children who die every day in the developing world, mostly from causes that are preventable,” said Beckham.

Beckham is just one of the many famous artists working with UNICEF to promote health, child survival and many other projects of the UN. Artists supporting UN projects go way back to the days of the late actress Audrey Hepburn who was herself an Ambassador of Goodwill.

It's good to know many of them are so magnanimous as to offer a part of their time and even their own money to help provide the much needed support for the helpless and the needy...

Sunday, January 20, 2008

UNICEF and youth: Working together for 'A World Fit for Children'

The UNICEF has launched several projects that involved the youth to help promote and protect child rights and empower them to let their voices be heard.

The year 2007 marked the five-year anniversary celebration of the UN plan of action, ‘A World Fit For Children’ – a commitment by world leaders to protect and promote child rights.

In December 2007, ‘A World Fit For Children Plus 5’ a follow-up meeting to the 2002 UN General Assembly Special Session on Children. More than 90 youth participants from over 50 countries represented their respective governments and non-governmental organizations. The child delegates from many countries got the chance to speak at United Nations headquarters in New York City and attend roundtable events.

'Our Stories', a newly launched online archive, documented the thoughts and opinions of dozens of these youth delegates. The project, which is supported by UNICEF in partnership with Google and One Laptop Per Child, chronicled the youths’ impressions of New York, songs they composed, stories of home and messages to world leaders. Many children recorded stories in their native languages for audiences at home, while others interviewed fellow delegates from other nations.

UNICEF’s Voices of Youth programme, also offers the youth with the opportunity to take part in sharing ideas with their peers from many different countries. They are able to explore issues important to them, and discuss and take action on human rights and social change.

In a related initiative, the Voices of Youth Digital Diaries provide first-person accounts of the lives of young people around the world. And the UNICEF-supported International Children’s Day of Broadcasting (ICDB) partners young people with broadcasters, while the yearly ICDB Awards recognize broadcasters for their dedication to youth participation in media.

The UNICEF's laudable efforts, through its many youth-oriented projects like "Our Stories," "A World Fit For Children Plus 5," Voices of Youth," among others, have finally given the youth the opportunity to have a voice to express themselves in matters they find relevant.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Fasting Starts...

Today Shekhar starts his "Samvedana Anashan" - indefinite fasting. This is his third. Curious, I asked what he would be doing during his fast. I've always pictured someone fasting to be sitting in a meditative position all day...I was wrong. He said he'd still have a normal life, and meditation, which has always been part of his daily routine. As moving around too much will drain his energy faster, he will try to avoid such activities. When I asked if he can still drink water, he laughed and said he can drink all the water he wants.

I took special notice to a line in the "Society Without State" article as they initiated drumming up support for Shekhar's advocacy: "The sorting of goats from sheep was apparent, as some of those who had been vocal supporters during the talking stage were now nowhere to be seen when the action began." How sad, but true.

I hope his fasting turns out into something really positive his countrymen will benefit from. He seemed very positive that it will. I can only wish him all the best in his efforts.

Everything has a beginning and an end...and this one I hope to be a very good one and soon...

Other links on the Samvedana Anashan announcement:
Society Without State

Sunday, January 13, 2008


An estimated 250,000 people have fled their homes and are in need of food, shelter and essential medicines. The UNICEF and World Vision are aiding displaced people from the violence that erupted across Kenya following the announcement of disputed election results on Dec. 30. Violent demonstrations since then have led to an estimated 500 deaths, numerous injuries, and the destruction of property in many locations across the East African country.

World Vision's Kenya office has temporarily closed because of the crisis but their emergency staff team is partnering with the Kenya Red Cross Society to provide relief supplies and meet the immediate needs of affected people in Nairobi, Nakuru, Eldoret, Mombasa, and Kisumu townships.

UNICEF Kenya Nutrition Specialist Linda Beyer estimated that 40 per cent to 60 per cent of the displaced people in camps there are children. She is concerned that the displacement could have long-term consequences for the well-being of families who rely on farming to survive.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Press Release on Samvedana Anashan - Indefinite Fasting...

Below is the press release on the Samvedana Anashan - Indefinite Fasting which will start on January 15. The first press conference was held in Pune last Tuesday, January 8.

This is the third campaign through fasting and hopefully, the same positive results are achieved.

Samvedana Anashan - An Indefinite Fast from 15th Jan.2008.

There has been a discussion and actions taken against criminalisation of politics by the judiciary and the election commission. But the criminalisation of business and glorification of such business leaders is a completely ignored subject. We started the process by filing a criminal case against Mr. Anil Ambani. The aim of this fast is to create awareness about criminalisation of business in India. There is a great need to prosecute such persons. We also need to take effective steps to avoid recurrence of such cases.

This is our third fast campaign. A seven day fast was observed in Chennai, in 1998 to protest against the sports sponsorships by tobacco and alcohol companies, targeting our teenagers. In 2001, ITC withdrew all the sports sponsorships, including Wills Cricket Cup. A five-day 'calling attention' fast was observed in Pune, in 2001, for Safe Smooth and Environmentally Friendly Transportation Systems in our cities. The process for fundamentally changing urban mobility is under way now, giving priority to the pedestrians, cyclists and users of the public transport.

During the last 3-4 years, Indian stock markets have been growing into highly stretched valuations. At the same time there is a neglect of the public sector. It has resulted into idle funds of Rs 2,39,000 crores. Government, instead of using these funds for social investments, plans to put these funds into stock markets. Similarly the pension funds, provident funds are also being put into the stock markets, besides the ULIP insurance funds. Another proposal under the active consideration of SEBI, is to allow real estate investments by common people through units. We shall realise the real estate prices are highly inflated (confirmed even by the Reserve Bank of India ). The great plan seems to be to palm off the highly inflated assets to the naive entities. This is going to expose our long term savings to a great danger.

In 2001, Unit Trust of India got into a big trouble and government was required to support UTI through the budget. Our study shows that this time around the problem will be 15 to 20 times bigger.

Shekhar ( V M ) Raste
Center For Holistic Human Development and

Saturday, January 05, 2008

"Samvedana Anashan " - Fasting for good governance to fight hunger, disease, poverty...

A friend of mine from India will start his indefinite fasting, "Samvedana Anashan " from 15th January, 2008. I admire his advocacy on good governance to fight hunger, disease and ignorance which to him are rooted on lack of sufficient integrity, creativity and competence, caring and sharing.

I'm posting his letter to the Prime Minister of India, Dr Manmohan Singhji as a sign of support for his advocacy. Press conferences will be held starting on Tuesday, 08 January 2008 in Pune, and another in New Delhi on 10 January 2008. I hope he and his colleagues achieve what they are fighting for. As he said, even if they fail doesn't matter, because they have put 110% of their effort into it.

Center for Holistic Human Development and Research
12 Maithilee, 34 /5 Erandwana, Pune 411004 - India.
Ph : + 91 20 2543 6648.
Sky is not the limit !

Dear and Respected Dr. Manmohan Singhji,

Sub : " Samvedana Anashan " - An indefinite fast from 15th January 2008.

A day has come in my life, to express our solidarity with the avoidable widespread sufferings of kids - out of schools, sick - not getting proper health care, the hungry and the malnourished. It is our considered opinion that hunger, disease and ignorance are only the symptoms and the real problem is, lack of sufficient integrity, creativity and competence, caring and sharing. I have decided to go on an indefinite fast " Samvedana Anashan " from 15th January, 2008. You are the sensitive leader, with highest integrity and competence. We are sure, you will appreciate our small offering to promote integrity.

The government under your able leadership and that of Soniaji, has done a lot to reduce sufferings, but one vital aspect is not yet on the agenda of the top leadership or society. We have been working on the issues of governance, more specifically the corporate governance. What we find today is very disturbing. As you rightly pointed out recently, the crony capitalism is widespread. The most disturbing aspect is, the people who constantly show their lack of integrity, are being promoted as role models in the society. They do not even hesitate to commit crimes - criminalization of business. We consider these behaviors as serious attacks on the very system of market economy, the very system of Joint Stock companies. Our society needs plenty of risk capital. And we need to promote integrity of markets, integrity of market participants, to attract the risk capital. We need to swiftly and sternly deal with any threat to integrity.

I would like to quote Mr. Alan Greenspan : " An area in which more than less government involvement is needed, in my judgment, is the rooting out of fraud. It is the bane of any market system. Fraud is a destroyer of the market process itself because market participants need to rely on the veracity of other market participants ".

The corporates are playing an increasingly important role in our society. One can imagine, in the coming years Railways, Posts, LIC etc. getting corporatized and listed on the stock exchanges. This can make them accountable to the millions of citizen stakeholders. But in the short term, as the greed gets the better of us, we have a strong feeling, of another scam being just around the corner. The grand plan seems to be, to palm off highly inflated assets to the naive entities. We are concerned with the crowding out of PSUs, as indicated by their enormous cash piles and more so, if this cash is invested in the markets. In these days of Ponzi Capitalism, with the current working of regulations/regulators and the judiciary, allowing/encouraging PSU cash piles/provident funds/pension funds, to invest in the financial markets is fraught with grave dangers.

We would like to bring to your kind notice, some of the shocking cases of corporates, we discovered during the last 4 years. Very clearly, each case is a criminal conspiracy to strip the shareholders off their valuable properties, criminal breach of trust, insider trading and so on. Most of the publicly claimed wealth they have, does not belong to these persons.

1. Larsen & Toubro Ltd. case.
2. Mr. Kumar M Birla case.
3. Mr. Anil Ambani case.

We did approach the media. We did approach the elected representatives. We did approach the government authorities. We did approach the Judiciary and now finally, we are approaching you. We sincerely feel these cases deserve immediate attention of the top leadership, for the sake of truth and justice and to stop their recurrence.

We are also sending a note as to why we consider the markets, as if running on "Ram Bharose," and our humble submission to improve the situation. These cases, besides being taken up as a precedent to be followed by all others have also resulted into loss of revenue in taxes and other government dues.

We thank you.

With respectful love.


Mr V M Raste
Convener, CHHDR.
Dated the 15th December, 2007.

Encl :
1. V M Raste - A Contemplative Activist D7.
2. Larsen & Toubro Ltd case.
3. Mr. Kumar M Birla case.
4. Mr. Anil Ambani case.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Young child survival and development....under-five deaths fall below 10 million per year

While reading articles I thought significant enough to blog about, I was almost shocked to discover that about 9.7 million children under five die every year.

Though UNICEF has called it a milestone that the mortality rate has gone down from about 13million in 1990 to 9.7 million in 2007, I still thought it was an appalling mortality figure for chidren under five. UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman stressed that much work remains to be done and that the loss of 9.7 million young lives each year is unacceptable. She said that most of these deaths are preventable.

Much of the progress reflected in the new child mortality figures is the result of widespread adoption of basic health interventions such as early and exclusive breastfeeding, measles immunization, vitamin A supplementation to boost children’s immune systems, and the use of insecticide-treated bednets to prevent malaria.

Proper treatment of pneumonia, diarrhoeal diseases and severe malnutrition, and treatment of paediatric HIV/AIDS, are also important for child survival – as are hygiene promotion and access to safe drinking water and sanitation.

From reports, the most rapid declines in mortality under five between 1990 and 2006 were found in Latin America and the Caribbean, Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States, and East Asia and the Pacific.

In the past, most child deaths occurred in Asia. Today, around 50 per cent of child deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa. If current trends continue, in 2015 sub-Saharan Africa will account for almost 60 per cent of all under-five deaths.

Falling under-five mortality in Asia has helped to fuel the global decline. China’s under-five mortality rate has fallen from 45 deaths for every 1,000 live births in 1990 to 24 per 1,000 in 2006, a reduction of 47 per cent. India’s rate has fallen from 115 to 76 per 1,000 in the same period, a reduction of 34 per cent.