Corporate bounty for children’s welfare gets bigger

February 3rd, 2009 - 12:06 pm ICT by IANS  

KPMGNew Delhi, Feb 3 (IANS) When the reputed NGO CRY raised a whopping Rs.30 lakhs/Rs.3 million from 12 companies for underprivileged children, it highlighted that the slice of the corporate philanthropy pie for kids was getting bigger.Firms like Cadence, Polaris Software, the Oberoi group, KPMG and the Royal Bank of Scotland have been pitching in big time for children’s welfare not only by raising funds but also by providing special incentives for social service.

Jaswinder Ahuja, managing director of Cadence, said his company was introducing an adoption benefit scheme for parents who wanted to adopt children.

“It is a small gesture that will encourage adoption. We will allow couples who wanted to adopt children maternity and paternity leave. It is our way of conveying the message that every child deserves a home,” Ahuja told IANS.

Over the past eight years, the CRY-Cadence Corporate initiative has raised Rs.24 million for children, the latest fundraising of Rs.3 million having happened in December 2008.

Similarly, Chennai-based Polaris Software Lab has been associated with the welfare of children for several years.

“We have a trust called ‘Ullas (joy)’ which has awarded scholarships to nearly 20,000 students in the past 13 years. We shortlist students from the weaker sections of society and sponsor them till Class 12,” Rajeev Sikka, vice-president of Polaris Lab, which supported the CRY-Cadence initiative, told IANS.

The trust operates in Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai and Gurgaon. Polaris has also adopted six schools in Gurgaon.

Delhi-based PCI Limited provides poor and physically challenged children with artificial limbs under its project, ‘Ishwar’.

“A few months ago we operated upon a poor child whose knee had twisted at an angle of 90 degrees and fixed it. Our employees also donate to CRY for children’s welfare annually,” said Vijay Sarpal, executive director of PCI Limited.

According to former CEO of CRY and trustee Pervin Varma, protection of child rights was a holistic issue that had to be addressed in the broad context of discriminations on the basis of caste, gender and race, lack of equal opportunities, abuse and development imbalance.

“There is a hierarchy even in terms of deprivation,” she told IANS.

The statistics are staggering. While the constitution makes it a fundamental right for every child in the age group of 6 to 14 to avail of free, fair and compulsory education, a CRY estimate says 50 percent of India’s children in that age group do not attend school.

Fifty percent of the girls fail to attend school and those that do usually drop out at the age of 12.

Government primary schools lack basic amenities - 88,000 schools do not have any blackboards and only 53 percent human habitations have primary schools.

In nearly 60 percent schools, less than two teachers teach students from Class 1 to 5 and one of every 40 primary schools in India are located in open spaces.

The government is also doing its bit to match the private initiatives.

“I am not every happy with the scenario of children in the country. On my part, I am making every effort to ensure that children, especially the girl child, get the best,” Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit said at the closing ceremony of the CRY-Cadence initiative.

Dikshit said as part of her drive to protect child rights, she has adopted the Ladli scheme, designed to enhance the status of the girl child and protect her, for compulsory education.

“The whip is: send the girl child to school and avail of the Rs.100,000 bounty. Nearly 100,000 children are already a part of the scheme,” Dikshit said.

Under the ‘Ladli’ scheme, parents of the girl child are given financial assistance by the government to educate the child.

The Delhi government is contemplating legislation to put a leash on the rampant trafficking of children - especially the girl child - after 30 girls aged 12-18 were rescued from captivity last week in Pitampura, where they were locked up by touts.

“Trafficking and exploitation of children, particularly girls, are serious problems and we are planning to enact legislation to curb it,” she said.

The chief minister regretted that nobody wanted a girl child “these days even in civilised society. I just hope the natural gender balance and the will (to have a girl child) prevail,” she said.

(Madhusree Chatterjee can be contacted at madhu.c@ians.in)

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