Chairman of Andhra Pradesh Legislative Council with Deputy Speaker left and ministers during the launch of the report in Hyderabad
HYDERABAD, India, 28 March 2011 - Budget speeches, scams, wiki-leaks, debates, political logjams, elections and differences were all put aside for sometime during the budget session in the Andhra Pradesh (AP) and Karnataka Legislative Assemblies.
Cutting across party lines the legislators sat together to hold an interaction on issues related to children in their state. The interactions with the legislators were built around the release of the report “Children's Issues and the Legislature” in both the assemblies.
In AP, 56 MLAs and MLCs along with the Chairman of the Legislative Council Mr. A. Chakrapani and Deputy Speaker of the Legislative Assembly Mr. N. Manohar participated in the release of the report organized under the aegis of the Knowledge Partnership between AP assembly and United Nations in India.
In Karnataka, the report was released by Chairman of Legislative Council, Mr. Basavraj Horatti, MLC and other members of the Karnataka Legislators Forum for Children, supported by UNICEF through Karnataka Child Rights Observatory- KCRO.
The reports highlighted the analysis of questions raised in the house which concerned children’s issues in both the assemblies. In AP legislative assembly, the questions pertaining to the children have gone up from 4 per cent in 2007-08 to 10 per cent in 2009-10. Pertinent to mention, there has been a 60 per cent decline in the total number of questions raised during the year.
In Karnataka Assembly, questions related to children’s questions witnessed a decline from 12 per cent in 2006-07 to four per cent for 2008-10 and from eight in 2006-07 to four per cent for 2008-10 in council. The analysis was jointly published by KCRO-Karnataka Child Rights Observatory and UNICEF.
Prior to the launch of the report in AP, there was a lively discussion between all the members on issues faced by the children in the state
Opening the discussions Chief of UNICEF Hyderabad Field Office, Dr. Yogendra Mathur, commended the support extended by the assembly secretariat and personal leadership and initiative of the Deputy Speaker in taking forward the partnership which started in 2006.
Referring to the analysis in the report's findings he congratulated the members for being sensitive to children's issues.
Members cutting across the party lines including those who were awarded the Child Friendly Legislators Award in 2009 spoke about range of issues affecting the children. While some members talked about child labour and child trafficking, other members were frank in their assessment regarding child marriages, condition of street children and sale of children in the state.
Members also demanded that the issues related to disabled children be looked into and facilities be provided for them in the schools. Few other members expressed their happiness over the improved institutional deliveries in state but cautioned about the need for an improved ante-natal and prenatal care for mothers.
The Communist Party of India (M), member, Mr. Ranga Reddy, who is also champion of children's rights in assembly, drew the attention of the members to the demands made by the children in the presence of ex- Chief Minister Mr. Y.S.R.Reddy. Mr. Reddy appealed that every assembly in the country reserved a day to discuss issues related to children. He read out all the 10 demand made by the children in 2009 and requested that November 14 be assigned as the day for the same.
In Karnataka, the Legislators Forum for Child Rights assured that one day discussion about children related issues will be negotiated and discussed with Government.
On the occasion, the blog www.childfriendlylegislatorsforumkarnatak.blogspot.com was unveiled for interested members to post their questions through the blog to reach the legislators or the government.
The Karnataka legislators identified two districts (Raichur and Dharawad) and two assembly constituencies (Bagalkot and Mahalakshmi Layout) for in depth understanding of the situation of children; develop action plans while interacting with children, activists, government officials. The action plans would be implemented in coordination with the district authorities.
In both the assemblies the interactions ended on a high note with council chairmen agreeing that an interactive session on the role of legislators in speedy implementation of RTE and reduction of under-nutrition may be organized at a convenient date.