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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Social service and money making in the name of service

In a World of selfish people and those who want to enjoy life without caring for anybody else, there is this small group who spend their quality time for helping out others ~ the less fortunate.  They make the lives of others meaningful – there are individuals, small groups and the like – those into Social service and there are some NGOs [Non Governmental Organisations] who do yeomen service. In a World, where people do not find time to talk to their spouses and children, these people find time to extend helping hand to others and they really need to be appreciated ~ for their attitude, their mindset, their spending time & money for the cause of others; most times they face many ordeals even in doing this selfless service……..

Sadly there is another side…… there are some out to make money out of social service and most unfortunately many of them have been lauded for decades as rendering social service and reforming society – when actually they have been making money in the name of religion, social service, running NGOs and the like. Sure strict action needs to be taken against them…….. but many a times Govt makes life difficult for those doing real service rather than correctly identifying those wrongful ones and punishing them.  

Lip service is easy – but going nearer a suffering person is extremely difficult, leave alone doing something for them. There are people lying uncared for in hospitals, on streets and more – the society never cares for them. People will talk of human rights and fight for criminals, none of them care for the sufferers on the streets. Today’s Times of India has a disturbing report raising apprehension that fudging of figures by non-governmental organisations, the foot soldiers in HIV/AIDS prevention programmes, could reverse progress the state has made. The government recently found that NGOs were over-reporting numbers to ensure the flow of funds for intervention programmes.

AIDS is dreaded and it is prevalent in Tamil nadu.  Though Tamil Nadu has been saying there has been a drop in prevalence of HIV — it is estimated to affect 0.11% of the population — the number of cases being reported from high-risk districts such as Namakkal hasn’t come down, say NGOs. Tamil Nadu State AIDS Control Society (Tansacs) officials said the percentage of positive cases among those tested at government hospitals was 1.24%. “People who come for testing include men and women from high-risk groups as well.   Experts point out that this is a myth. National data shows that less than 15% of people from the high-risk groups in TN go to hospitals for testing. This is one of the lowest in the country. “So people tested are only general public,” they said.

Unlike other diseases, most work in the HIV/AIDS sector, particularly prevention and early testing, is done by NGOs. Tansacs selects NGOs and allots funds to them for awareness programmes and provides free condoms for distribution. The NGO updates the government on the number of people it has reached out to and the services offered. It is feared that there has been no monitoring of the NGOs and some of them are making money out the deed.  TOI reports that at least 100 sex workers who died more than two years ago continued to be listed by non-governmental organizations as beneficiaries of Tamil Nadu government's AIDS control programmes. A report compiled by Tamil Nadu State AIDS Control Society (Tansacs) in November 2012 showed that several NGOs working with high-risk populations were fudging documents and names. Many sex workers were on the list for more than 15 years, others were as old as 59. A shocked Tansacs terminated the services of 10 NGOs. The NGOs said they did not want to delete names as it would reduce funding. Funds are allotted to NGOs depending on the number of people they serve.

The NGOs went on a strike and threatened to derail the AIDS prevention programmes. Last week, Tansacs' executive body reversed the termination orders and gave the NGOs till June to correct the errors.  Well, strike is fast becoming a National trait and everyone can threaten the weak-kneed Govt, even when they are at fault does not augur well for the Nation.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
5th Mar 2013

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