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World Health Day 2022 should help us introspect, strengthen the fort with help from all stakeholders

World Health Day 2022 should help us introspect, strengthen the fort with help from all stakeholders

(April 06, 2022)

This year’s World Health Day stresses on the need to protect people and the environment that they are part of.

The World Health Day is celebrated on April 7 every year to kindle hope for the world, to reimagine a world where clean air, water and food are available to all, where economies are focused on health and well-being, where cities are livable, and people have control over their health and the health of the planet. With the theme ‘Our Planet, Our Health’, World Health Day 2022 is aimed at attracting global attention towards the well-being of our planet and the humans living on it.

In the run up to World Health Day, WHO released a new air quality database that shows that around 2,000 more cities/human settlements are now recording ground monitoring data for particulate matter, PM 10 and/or PM 2.5 . Almost the entire global population (99%) is breathing air that exceeds WHO air quality limits and is threatening their health. A record number of over 6,000 cities in 117 countries are now monitoring air quality, but the people living in them are still breathing unhealthy levels of fine particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide, with people in low and middle-income countries suffering the highest exposures.

Estimates show that more than 13 million deaths around the world each year are due to avoidable environmental factors. This includes the climate crisis which is the single biggest health threat facing humanity. The climate crisis is also a health crisis.

Apart from human-induced climate hazards, scientists are wary of future pandemics that might strike, and brace for them, two years since the deadly coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic struck us. Covid-19 is not the last pandemic, and the next one is imminent, unless we come together to prevent it.

Scientists and epidemiologists have pointed out the link between animals and humans for transmission of infectious diseases. A research paper published in Nature suggests that approximately three-quarters of emerging infectious diseases in humans have an animal origin.

Covid-19 and some of the other deadliest disease outbreaks around the world in modern times, including the Swine Flu pandemic of 2009, West African Ebola pandemic between 2014 and 2016, Zika virus outbreak and the Nipah virus, have shown the need for concerted efforts to be battle-ready and tackle future pandemics that are yet to come.

In the early 2000s there came a concept ‘One Health’ that recognizes the interconnections and health interdependencies among humans, animals, and the shared environments in which we live and interact. With the changing risks of global spread, the timeliness of early detection is emerging as a prerequisite in our ability to detect outbreaks at the stage when they can still be contained.

An estimate by the Department of Animal Husbandry & Dairying shows that an annual investment of approximately $22-$31 billion, globally, would strengthen animal sector systems, enough to prevent pandemics like coronavirus, saving trillions of dollars.

Preventing diseases from spreading – from wildlife to livestock, and eventually to humans is critical. Also, early detection and control of these diseases in livestock, could prevent human pandemics and mitigate the devastating consequences of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR). This requires the adoption of a One Health approach for disease prevention.

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic over the past two years almost derailed the healthcare infrastructure in many countries, including India. Shortage of oxygen, ventilators and PPE kits virtually throttled the fight against the virus, especially in the stressed phase when the second wave hit the country.

It was, with the support of non-governmental and civil society organizations that India could rebound and stand back on its feet. One such initiative was Smile Foundation’s Health Cannot Wait campaign that solicited long-term investments through donations to strengthen healthcare infrastructure in the country. It supported in setting up oxygen banks for critical patient support among vulnerable communities, mobilization of PPE Kits & N-95 Masks for frontline health workers, distribution of hygiene kits (including masks, soaps, sanitizers, oximeters), tele-counseling to dispel vaccine hesitancy, spread awareness on COVID-appropriate behavior and the provision of primary healthcare services to reduce the load on health infrastructure.

However, there are many other critical diseases that impact public health, especially in a diverse country like India. Several stakeholders and organizations, including global non-profit Malaria No More, are working towards addressing diseases like Malaria that have an impact while acknowledging that there are several barriers in addressing vector borne diseases. India is now in the last leg of achieving its Malaria elimination goals and is in major need of participation from the public and private sector, along with corporation from the public.

In fact, the World Health Assembly had in May 2015 adopted Global Technical Strategy for Malaria and set the ambitious new target of reducing the global malaria burden by 90% by 2030 by scaling up malaria responses and moving towards elimination.

Stakeholders engaged in India’s fight against malaria have shown that community action is helping countries achieve their malaria elimination goals.

The discussion around health remains incomplete without the fight against HIV and AIDS.

HIV continues to be a major global public health issue, having claimed 36.3 million lives so far. While there is no cure for HIV infection, with increasing access to effective HIV prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and care, including for opportunistic infections, HIV infection has become a manageable chronic health condition, enabling people living with HIV to lead long and healthy lives.

In India, National AIDS Control Organization (Naco) steers HIV and AIDS prevention, treatment, education, sensitization, and control programs.

Safe Zindagi, part of Program Accelerate and funded by USAID and Johns Hopkins University, has been working with the National AIDS Control Organization (Naco) since 2019 to advance progress towards the UNAIDS 95-95-95 goals to achieve epidemic control in India. Programs like Accelerate assist Naco in addressing gaps in programming and outreach among at-risk populations, including People Living with HIV (PLHIV) and four key population groups — female sex workers, men who have sex with men, transgender persons, and people who inject drugs.

There are organizations that are coming forward to bridge India’s healthcare gap for marginalized communities. One such facility is ‘Mitr Clinic’, India’s first-ever clinic that works exclusively for the

transgender community and is run by them. Started by Project Accelerate, a programme raising awareness on HIV and AIDS, Mitr Clinics support and address the needs and issues of members of the transgender community by engaging in conversations and activities built on faith and trust. No healthcare mechanism is complete without the focus on child health and nutrition. But the government along with various civil society organizations are working tirelessly towards strengthening child healthcare in India. So far, Smile Foundation has provided over 27.7 million meals to more than 200,000 families in 23 states of India. It aims to provide three square meals to more than 250,000 families and is working to provide 50,000 home isolation kits to Covid patients.

State governments are conducting some interesting health programs to push for improved health outcomes. States like Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Madhya Pradesh are working towards this in a concerted manner. The government of Madhya Pradesh runs a bouquet of integrated health schemes such as the Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakram, and the Navjat Shishu Suraksha Karyakram, apart from the Ladli Lakshmi Yojana which seek to provide end-to-end support to improve health and wellbeing of citizens.

What we now need, is greater integration of efforts to bring this all together towards the achievement of the national goal of health outcomes that are better than those in the developing world, so we can then aim to better these further.

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Post Pandemic, for a Happier Planet and Healthier People

Post Pandemic, for a Happier Planet and Healthier People

(April 07, 2022)

The World Health Day is being celebrated on April 7, the day the World Health Organisation (WHO) was formed in 1948. The WHO is focusing on “global attention on urgent actions needed to keep humans and the planet healthy and foster a movement to create societies focused on well-being.” Aptly, the theme for 2022 is ‘Our Planet, Our Health’.

by Santanu Mishra

The entire globe seems to be at a crossroad. For the past two years, we have all been dealing with the Coronavirus pandemic that literally inundated geographical and socio-economic boundaries, and raged through our lives in general. It was also a new world order, which was thrust upon the planet without any forewarning. It also accentuated the widening gap of the haves and have-nots. After all, the pandemic was not just a healthcare crisis.

The stress on access to water, food, clothes, education and healthcare, to name a few, was palpable, that was defined by people having resources and those who didn’t. As the pandemic appears to be ebbing and life limping back to normalcy, there are still concerns about a new wave, vaccine hesitancy and at time vaccine inequality, and how to rebuild lives while the global economy has gone for a spin.

It is against this backdrop that the World Health Day is being celebrated on April 7, the day the World Health Organisation (WHO) was formed in 1948. The WHO is focusing on “global attention on urgent actions needed to keep humans and the planet healthy and foster a movement to create societies focused on well-being.” Aptly, the theme for 2022 is ‘Our Planet, Our Health’.

The WHO identifies the “climate crisis” as a health crisis too. A Lancet Planetary Health study had said that around 17 lakh Indians lost lives to air pollution in 2019. This is 18 per cent of total deaths. India has lost 1.4 per cent of the GDP due to premature deaths and morbidity from air pollution, which is equivalent to Rs 2.60 lakh crore in monetary terms. This was more than four times of the Union Budget allocation for the health sector in 2021-22 (Rs 73,931 crore) and 2022-23 (Rs 86,200.65 crore).

It is not that air pollution is the only big threat that is contributing to the health crisis. Life-style diseases are also on the rise. Obesity, cancer and heart diseases are on the rise with experts pointing to reasons such as changing eating habits and lifestyle. They put the blame mainly on the unhealthy packaged food, beverages and behavioural changes. Also, untreated human-generated waste is triggering health problems and degrading ecosystems.

At the same time no one is discounting the possibilities of economic factors that are triggering a health crisis. The WHO says extreme weather events, land degradation and water scarcity are displacing people and affecting their health. It says the food-chain is impacted, as the humans pollute every inch they could set their foot in, whether it is the deep ocean or the highest mountain.

While these were existing troubles in varying degrees, the Covid-19 pandemic has added more challenges for the health sector. The pandemic struck from nowhere and it could have put the best of preparedness to task, any time. The resilience of the human race was tested once again and with the help of science and technology, the war against the pandemic was launched. Although an ‘infodemic’ sought to derail the fight back giving rise to spread of fake news. The world is climbing back to normalcy even as the final bugle has not been sounded.

So, what are the challenges? For any government, tackling the climate crisis is a priority. They have set ambitious targets but there must be convergence of resources and knowhow amongst nations. While acknowledging the importance of dealing with the climate crisis, the question however is whether emerging economies or developing nations have the wherewithal to match the guarantees that the developed countries have promised but not delivered yet. Development needs of countries like India may have to be kept in mind while dealing with such a question.

At the same time, countries like India will have to increase its spending on the health sector, particularly in public health. The private sector, civil society organizations as well as the government have a chance to work out a better convergence of resources and efforts.

On a brighter note, the pandemic has preponed application of technologies in human development at an unimaginable scale. Many things would have been possible only by 2030 otherwise. The acceleration of technology covered not only medical research and vaccine development, but also ways to taking basic healthcare to the masses. Our own experience has shown how tele-medicine, mobile healthcare and virtual consultation became the new normal in no time.

Another area to that cried for attention was prioritizing mental health, or as I would like to call it, mental wellbeing. Surprisingly, children were one of the most affected. The pandemic also was overwhelming for the healthcare professionals, who were facing burnout among other concerns.

The healthcare areas in particular is expected to see enhanced focus on ESG (Environment, Social and Governance) components – covering sustainability, tech-enabled governance, digital-driven impact, innovation in creating higher reach and inclusiveness.

When we commemorate the World Health Day, one should remember that the present danger is not over. The civil society organizations, governments and the health sector players continue to play a more proactive role, accelerating the pace of preparedness and advancement.

“Santanu Mishra, Co-Founder and Executive Trustee, Smile Foundation”

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8th Smile International Film Festival to feature films from Germany, Iran, Argentina

8th Smile International Film Festival to feature films from Germany, Iran, Argentina

(16 April, 2022)

New Delhi, Apr 16 (PTI) Films from Germany, Iran, Argentina, Cuba and Italy will be screened at the eighth edition of the Smile International Film Festival for Children and Youth (SIFFCY).

Organised by Delhi-based NGO Smile Foundation, the festival will be held virtually this year from April 24 to 30 and screen 100 films from more than 50 countries.

According to the organisers, the festival will feature a special curation of five Hindi and regional feature films produced by the Children’s Film Society as well as 10 films from Germany, made in collaboration with Schlingel, Chemnitz, and five Iranian films made in collaboration with the Center for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults: Kanoon, Iran.

Filmmaker Rima Das’ “Village Rockstars”, which was India’s official entry for 2019 Oscars, will be screened as part of the Extra Smiles – Best of SIFFCY segment.

Priyanka Chopra’s 2018 production “Pahuna – The Little Visitors” and “Chuskit”, a film directed by Priya Ramasubban, also feature in the segment along with films like “The Flying Trunk” and “Famous in Ahmedabad”.

“SIFFCY aims to provide healthy entertainment to children. It supports good cinema for the benefit of children and youth. We are glad to have nurtured such a platform to bring quality films from across the globe. Good cinema for children and youth must be encouraged so that this medium can help us build an empathetic society and a better planet,” Santanu Mishra, Chairman, SIFFCY, and Executive Trustee, Smile Foundation, said in a statement.

Festival director Jitendra Mishra said the new edition of the film gala will “expose young minds to high quality cinema from across the world”.

“It will shed light upon the way the world approaches cinema and films in general,” he added.

Films screenings at SIFFCY 2022 have been divided into six categories –International Competition (Feature Films), International Competition (Shorts/documentaries), Extra Smile: Best of SIFFCY, 70 MM Smile : World Panorama, The Yellow Carpet: Indian Panorama, Next Gen: Films Made by Film Students, and Take One: Films Made by Children. PTI RB RB RB

This report is auto-generated from PTI news service. ThePrint holds no responsibility for its content.

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Business World Social Impact Leader Award for Santanu Mishra

Business World Social Impact Leader Award for Santanu Mishra

(April 22, 2022)

A pioneer in applying successful management practices in the social sector, Mr. Santanu Mishra, Co-Founder and Executive Trustee of Smile Foundation, was awarded with the Business World Social Impact Leader Award.

His contribution can also be described as a convergence of good governance, championing entrepreneurial spirit at the grassroots, leveraging emerging technologies, encouraging innovation, creating a high impact model, and imbibing the philosophy of real work and real change.

Mr. Mishra received the honor at the inaugural edition of the BW Disrupt Social Impact Summit & Awards 2022.

A management and legal consultant by profession, a company secretary by qualification, and an entrepreneur by passion, Mr. Santanu Mishra is also an alumnus of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad. Born and brought up in Sambalpur, Odisha, he made his way up in the corporate sector before dedicating himself fulltime and voluntarily into nurturing Smile Foundation which he had founded along with a group of friends two decades ago.

His single-minded effort has made Smile Foundation impacting lives of 1.5 million children and their families directly across 26 states of India, every year through life-cycle approach of development.

Amalgamation of a high impact development model with the performance driven corporate world, fuelled by the selfless passion of social entrepreneurs and exemplary community connect at the grassroots have been the hallmarks of Smile Foundation.

Smile Foundation, the organization he nurtured, is known for evolving and applying various path-breaking models in the sector such as Civic Driven Change, Social Venture Philanthropy, Sensitization of Privileged Children, use of art in driving change etc. He is the producer of the path-breaking feature film I Am Kalam. Mr. Mishra is also the chairman of Smile International Film Festival for Children & Youth.

Mr. Santanu Mishra dedicated the Business World Social Impact Leader Award to the 2600 people of Smile Foundation who work relentlessly on the ground round the year.

“The award will act as a motivation for me and an encouragement for our people in the endeavor to create meaningful impact in the lives of children and their families. Active participation of the civil society is imperative in the mission to create an equitable future for our children, besides building an empathetic society and a happier planet,” said Mr. Santanu Mishra.

The BW Social Impact Summit and Awards 2022 hosted social welfare professionals and organizations in the domains of education, health, women empowerment, and sustainable development.

The jury for the award comprises of industry luminaries such as former NASSCOM President Dr. Kiran Karnik, BW group editorial director Noor Fathima Warsia, Air Marshal Naresh Verma, AVSM VSM (Retd); Chairman 5F World Dr. Ganesh Natarajan, Founder Crux Management Dr. Vikas Singh, BW Chairman & Editor-in-Chief Dr. Anurag Batra, among others.

Sadhguru, founder Isha Foundation, Kunal Kapoor, actor & founder Ketto, Shekhar Mehta, President Rotary International, Atul Satija, founder & CEO the Nudge Institute, Shridhar Venkat, CEO the Akshaya Patra Foundation, Mathew Cherian, Chairperson Care India were among the speakers during the summit & awards, which also included Mr. Santanu Mishra.

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Education For A Long-Lasting Change

Education For A Long-Lasting Change

(April 29, 2022)

This year, Smile Foundation handled close to Rs 100 crore of budget involving welfare projects spread across 25 states of India

Santanu Mishra travelled to Delhi in the 1990s to study further and find a livelihood. This was also the period of early economic liberalisation. The economic reforms affected many sectors and finance professionals like him were the first ones to understand this transition and success that followed. In relative terms, the basic requirements of livelihood were achieved faster than he had hoped for.

Coming from a middle class background in Odisha, the disparities around him forced him to reflect upon what he was doing in terms of giving back to society. The very thought of doing something beyond just professional gain started haunting him.

A group of like-minded friends came together to start discussing what and how to do something which could impact lives even with their limited understanding on the subject and available resources. There was so much to do in terms of development and nothing would look sufficient. Children could define the future of a nation. So they started working in the area of child education as education is the only medium to prepare children and bring about a long-lasting sustainable change. Thus, Smile Foundation came into existence in 2002.

As the development sector was less professionalised back then Mishra gave up his corporate career and got himself involved in building Smile Foundation. According to him, when we look around, we find palpable inequality. And, it seems to be increasing. The resourceful segment may be having a convenient life, but the pursuit of happiness is there. On the other hand, the less resourceful one may be making do with constraints, but it also wants to seek happiness. Both the worlds wish to have a fulfilling life.

Interestingly, while a part of our society is struggling with abundance, another part is struggling with constraints. On a brighter side, many privileged people want to get engaged meaningfully and play a role in bringing a change. The relatively less privileged ones are waiting for that little push that can bring a great relief to their life.

People are a very important factor in any organisation, across the business as well as non-profit worlds. People are gradually becoming more purpose-driven across the globe. As a result, organisations have to make themselves aligned with the same. Practicing a culture of empathy not only helps pursue the organisational goals and its resultant impact on the ground but also assists in solving problems. This year, Smile Foundation handled close to Rs.100 crore of budget involving welfare projects spread across 25 states of India. As a non-profit organisation, the notion of profit and monetisation is not relevant to them. However, they mobilise most of their resources from corporate and also from individual supporters.

They aim to reach 2 million direct beneficiaries a year from the 1.5 million at present. In the

long-term, they also wish to promote giving, happiness, and mental wellbeing as part of day-to-day life so that the dream of a kinder and better society is materialised.

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Smile Foundation Awarded COVID Management Initiative of the Year (India)

Smile Foundation Awarded COVID Management Initiative of the Year (India)

(May 01, 2022)

New Delhi: Smile Foundation’s extensive and multi-pronged effort during the coronavirus pandemic in India was recognized as the COVID Management Initiative of the Year at the Healthcare Asia Awards 2022. The Foundation received this prestigious recognition for COVID-impact mitigation, healthcare service delivery and relief work it did over the past two years. Smile Foundation was the only non-profit organization among healthcare organizations, hospitals and institutions from across the globe to be awarded at the prestigious Healthcare Asia Awards under various categories.

Smile Foundation, through its Health Cannot Wait initiative, reached out to the nook and corner of the country and provided doorstep delivery of healthcare services through mobile healthcare and telemedicine mechanism, tele-counseling and awareness services, providing urgent necessities like PPE kits to health workers, strengthening the existing public health infrastructure through supply of oxygen and medicines, reducing the load of primary healthcare facilities, providing hygiene kits to masses, and spreading awareness to contain the spread of the virus. The initiative covered 14 states of India and reached out to over a million beneficiaries across India.

“We are honoured and humbled to receive such an encouragement in the form this prestigious award. The pandemic has been a monumental public health challenge. During the peak of the infections, as the situation worsened with every passing day, the need of the hour was to complement the government and public effort, and support the most vulnerable people. The accolade belongs to our entire team who turned Covid warriors displaying commendable resilience and selflessness,” said Mr. Santanu Mishra, Co-Founder and Executive Trustee, Smile Foundation.

As the world begins recovering from COVID-19, the healthcare sector has proved its resilience by manifesting ability to overcome challenges and continue serving the most vulnerable sections of society. Healthcare providers have innovated to devise breakthrough products, initiatives, and robust COVID management frameworks. Swift incorporation of these breakthroughs in day-to-day operations is helping manage crises and provide quality healthcare to patients.

The Healthcare Asia Awards 2022 recognized entities that have risen above the challenges caused by the pandemic and innovated to better serve customers. This year’s nominations were chosen by an elite panel of judges consisting of Chris Hardesty, Pureland Venture Partners; Partha Basumatary, EY-Parthenon Director, Life Sciences & Healthcare, Strategy Lead; and Sarah Butler, PwC Global Health Service Leader.

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Smile Foundation’s Project Manzil Inspires Young Girls to Seek Aspiring Careers with 21st Century Employability Skills

Smile Foundation’s Project Manzil Inspires Young Girls to Seek Aspiring Careers with 21st Century Employability Skills

(May 11, 2022)

New Delhi: Smile Foundation, under its Project Manzil initiative, has now provided employability training to around 14,000 young girls and enabled on-the-job training of another 5,000 girls to secure their future. The Foundation has encouraged the girls by enrolling them in vocational education courses.

Manzil’s girl-centered initiatives (both in-school and out-of-school) based on skills, information, stakeholder engagement aid significantly in addressing the socio-economic constraints that contribute to early marriage. For instance, evidence shows that adolescent girls with employability skills and prospects of employment are less likely to marry early. Economic empowerment of women also helps girls exercise more influence within the household and on issues like age of marriage.

Project Manzil is a five-year project funded by Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) and is implemented by IPE Global. The in-school component of training is implemented by Smile Foundation. This initiative aims to increase retention of girls in schools and ensure effective transition from school to higher studies and/or work by making available training in vocational skills in schools, along with apprenticeships and jobs for out of school adolescent girls (15-19 years).

By imparting practical knowledge to students, over and above theoretical knowledge through Project Manzil, Smile Foundation is taking yet another step forward to provide quality education to young girls across Rajasthan.

NEP 2020 reinforces the need to address skill development through vocational training. Skill-based training is a vital component of our education system, from schools to universities. Vocational education serves as a tool to help girls who want to learn skills quickly but cannot afford a university degree. This training opens many job opportunities for girls. By introducing vocational training at the school and college levels, the project seeks to check girls’ drop-out rate.

Manzil aims to improve the quality of vocational education through three approaches focused on schools, students, and industry. These approaches improve the overall effectiveness of vocational education by helping the girls make informed decisions on their careers. Manzil provides training to girls in streams like IT, healthcare, beauty & wellness, security, retail, automobile, apparel, home furnishing, agriculture, tourism & hospitality, and electrical & electronics. Project Manzil aims to empower adolescent girls to realize their career goals and aspirations.

Mr. Santanu Mishra, Co-Founder and Executive Trustee Smile Foundation said, “Academic and vocational learning are complimentary to one another. When practical industry-based skill training becomes part of schooling, especially for girl children, it empowers them to make informed choices in life. This project has been showing inspiring impact.”

Project Manzil offers student counselling and aspiration-mapping services, regularization of on-the-job training and industry exposure, industry tie-ups for schools, mapping of local industries and employers on the Manzil app, employability skills and services to improve enrollment in vocational education. Currently, the project benefits 90,000 adolescent girls between 14 and 19 years pursuing vocational education in grade 9-12 across 182 Government schools in 6 districts of Rajasthan.

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Why India must reassess strategy to achieve sustainable development goals

Why India must reassess strategy to achieve sustainable development goals

(May 13, 2022)

Forging demonstrable and fast-paced progress towards the attainment of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development goals is the holy grail of policymakers and has occupied significant mind space and bandwidth.

Recent indicators, however, do not paint a rosy picture. India has slipped three spots from 117 in 2021 to rank 120 this year on achieving the 17 sustainable development goals, as per the Centre for Science and Environment’s State of India’s Environment Report, 2022. The report states India, with a score of 66, is now behind all South Asian countries except Pakistan. Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Bangladesh all enjoy a lead over India in the attainment of sustainable development goals.

We must therefore reassess the way we are progressing in this regard. Adopted in 2015 by 192 United Nations member-countries as part of the 2030 agenda, the 17 sustainable development goals serve as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that by 2030 all people enjoy peace and prosperity. The goals are integrated as action in one area will affect outcomes in others. They call for ending poverty by improving health and education, reducing inequality by spurring economic growth – all while tackling climate change by protecting the environment.

India has attacked poverty through a mix of social sector schemes to promote the health and wellbeing of citizens. Schemes like Ayushman Bharat, Jan Dhan Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan, and Beti Bachao Beti Padhao are all playing a role in driving inclusive development. Even state governments are making important interventions.

Earlier this month, Madhya Pradesh launched a government program – Ladli Lakshmi 2.0 where the state pays the fee of girls who pursue medical education, or study at IITs and IIMs. Girls passing class 12th and pursuing college education will receive INR 25,000. The Ladli Lakshmi Yojana has been in force over the past 15 years, and the state government bears the cost of raising the girl child till marriage. Every year, the state celebrates Ladli Lakshmi Utsav from May 2 to May 12. Similarly, civil society organizations are making concerted efforts to enable sustainable development by driving access to health and education. I would cite the example of Smile Foundation which runs Shiksha Na Ruke program benefiting 50,000 children across 22 states, while its Health Cannot Wait campaign mobilizes resources for Covid relief and providing other healthcare services across the country.

But there is considerable ground to be covered and reassessment could help. The World Bank estimates India has 100-150 million households living below USD 1.90 consumption per day per person. And the pandemic would have increased the number of ultra-poor households in the country.

Way Ahead

What is needed is a clutch of targeted, high-impact interventions that can make population-scale impact, fast. Technology holds answers. India has built robust public data stacks on education, health, citizen enumeration, mobile phone penetration and bank account ownership. Innovation using these digital stacks can help us design scalable interventions to deliver impact quickly.

Our country is large, diverse, and complex – topographically, climatically, culturally, and population-wise. This is the reason organizations often find it challenging to implement even carefully drafted interventions. This is where we require government, industry, and NGOs to combine forces for positive change. Each of these stakeholders has unique strengths that, when brought together, can make a profound difference.

While the government brings scale of operations, corporate India has monetary muscle, organizational might, and planning skills to design effective public interventions. The civil society brings with it on-ground connect and experience of implementing public welfare initiatives. They have the networks and enjoy the trust of people which helps them implement efficiently to deliver impact.

Make no mistake, India requires urgent population scale change for poverty alleviation by rapidly improving access to livelihood, education, healthcare, and nutrition. For this to happen, the key stakeholders – governments, corporate India and civil society organizations must bridge the trust deficit and work in close coordination to improve the effectiveness of public welfare initiatives and pull people out of poverty faster and sustainably.

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Bringing Children and Youth Cinema

Bringing Children and Youth Cinema

(May 19, 2022)

Bringing Children and Youth Cinema News: Movies are the most impactful art form and are available everywhere. They use a language that can be understood even by children due to which it becomes easy to engage and educate them through the same. Film Festivals help to strengthen and sustain democracy, peace, and liberty. They provide a platform for children and youth to learn and gather an understanding of various cultures and experiences through films.

It also provides an opportunity for the filmmakers to exchange ideas and foster creativity through their work by creating a welcoming and non – competitive for all the guests and audience. Children’s brains and activities are profoundly influenced by films and stories. It can expose societal problems such as human trafficking, domestic abuse, corruption, poverty, social exclusion, and other discriminatory behaviours. Movies and performers have influenced people’s thoughts and actions; they are vehicles for establishing new trends that have a direct impact on people’s social life.

Film Festival for Children and Youth is launched to educate and inspire children through the medium of films. Films frequently provide a framework for youngsters to comprehend the world around them. The messages are often hidden, but they are always present. Children can be influenced by cinema in terms of emotional stimulation, empathy, and good social conduct. In many cases, movies serve as an educational enhancement to course material and, in other situations, can give instructional value from a greater perspective. Filmmakers can influence the thoughts of youngsters.

Many films have significant life lessons. Science-fiction films can educate children. When they can visualize something, it’s easier to learn how it works, and practical visualization helps them remember what they need to. As a result, if children are having problems understanding a concept, they can watch a movie that explains it implicitly or clearly. Most significantly, cinema exposes children to many cultures.

It introduces them to numerous art forms and encourages them to learn about different people’s lifestyles. Children can learn empathy through movies because they can feel and live the feelings of characters indirectly through the screen. Based on particular research, viewing selfless and prosocial behaviour in a movie can inspire children to emulate these behaviours in their own life.

“Children are an integral part of the society because the future of it depends on how children look at it today. Children as lead characters drive a higher impact. Empathy can be inculcated deeply through films that portray children as lead characters and protagonists. Children’s films are unique as they can create a connection with a large audience and effect an impact that has far-reaching implications for building society.

SIFFCY 2022, the festival’s 8th edition, with more than 100 films from above 50 different countries helped highlight themes of mental health, poverty, education, and many other societal issues with children at the core. They had originated from so many different countries, mostly made during the pandemic and encompassed children’s perspective – both towards problems and hope.” said Santanu Mishra, Co-Founder and Executive Trustee, Smile Foundation.

The future of society is shaped by children and youth. Many films have plots that encourage youth to get up every morning and face the world with optimism and hope. They inspire the audience to overcome personal challenges and make a good difference in the lives of others. Films about famous people are an excellent approach to positively influencing societal behaviour. They are solely a reflection of society. As a result, it enables the children in confronting the reality of what is occurring in our society. It depicts reality and helps the youth be aware awareness of situations that may have been overlooked in the past.

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World’s biggest socio-economic risk: Ignoring nutrition’s role in achieving UN Sustainable Development Goals

World’s biggest socio-economic risk: Ignoring nutrition’s role in achieving UN Sustainable Development Goals

(June 04, 2022)

World Nutrition Day 2022: Being poor limits the accessibility to enough food and due to undernutrition, children and adults cannot attain good health and holistic wellbeing.

Even though there are multiple Government programmes for fighting malnutrition, we as a nation need to move closer to the nutrition goals(Getty Images)

World Nutrition Day 2022: Seven years ago, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted by the UN and became the most widely recognized blueprint for a sustainable future. They remain a mirror to some of the key global challenges we face – poverty, inequality, environmental degradation, hunger, and poor health. With the pandemic having radically changed our economies and societies, it’s important to note where we were, where we are now and where we could be while working towards the realisation of the SDGs – especially of 1, 2 and 3 that deal with abolishing poverty, hunger and gaining good health respectively. The SDGs will continue to be a call for the world to come together to find urgent solutions to pressing problems.

If the past few years have been an indicator of times to come, we see that the continuous investment in good nutrition will help the world to realize every single UN SDG. Although nutrition primarily contributes to SDG 2 which corresponds to the ambition to ‘End hunger, achieve food security, improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture’ it also indirectly impacts 12 of the 17 SDGs – which include SDGs 1 and 3. Being poor limits the accessibility to enough food and due to undernutrition, children and adults cannot attain good health and holistic wellbeing. Well-nourished children become healthy adults, that can grow, learn and participate better in their communities and react more resiliently to a crisis. According to NITI Aayog, which measures the country’s progress on SDG targets, only Kerala and Chandigarh are performing well on SDG 2.

Nutrition is both a maker and a marker of development. Improved nutrition is the platform for progress in health, education, employment, empowerment of women and the reduction of poverty and inequality, and can lay the foundation for peaceful, secure and stable societies, Ban Ki-moon, 8th Secretary-General of the United Nations has said.

Even though there are multiple Government programmes for fighting malnutrition, we as a nation need to move closer to the nutrition goals. The first phase of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-5, which was conducted in 17 states and five Union Territories (UTs) in 2019, revealed much scope for improvement in terms of performance in all the parameters related to malnutrition. In March 2021, the Ministry of Women and Child Development said that the country had a million children who needed to be brought out from Severe Acute Malnutrition.

Therefore, our key lookout, on a national scale should be to improve nutrition and promote balanced diets if we are to realize the first three UN SDGs at least.

One of the ways that this can be done is by encouraging farmers to diversify their production, as it rewards farmers and local communities with improved nutrition. Diversification of agricultural production also keeps farmers engaged through different periods in the year, which reduces unemployment and nutrition gaps. We are blessed to live in a country in which this diversification is possible, with various soil qualities and knowledge about various food groups that the population is familiar with. However, this diversification cannot only have a profit motive but should be farmer-first. Farmers have long been disillusioned by the inability to grow what they want and what will feed their families and their communities well. Growing a non-indigenous variety of berries, for example, will not have the nutritional effect that wood-apple or guava could have, which are extremely nutrient-dense.

Locally grown crops can thus help to meet the nutrient and micronutrient requirements of our country. More nutritious than wheat are jowar, bajra, kodu, kutki, and maize which are powerhouses of micronutrients.

Similarly, there are thousands of green leafy vegetables across India that are rich sources of essential nutrients like iron, calcium, and potassium with the potential to address the ‘hidden hunger.’ Being vocal for local is the need of the hour. However, these local crops need to also be utilized properly and made available at every level of society – there needs to be equity in crop distribution, for an equitable intake of nutrition. As long as people have access to food, there is inherent knowledge regarding storing the food for lean periods and distribution of this food through anganwadis, etc to the neediest.

Simple yet innovative things like the promotion of kitchen gardens among lactating and young mothers have shown tremendous impact across India. It not only helps save cost but also ensures the availability of seasonal vegetables in the households, helping children and women improve their nutritional intake. The endeavour can be innovative, localized and practical so that it sustains.

According to the UN Land Report released in April 2022, food systems – a blanket term to describe the way humans produce, process, transport and consume food – are the main reasons when it comes to land degradation. They account for 80 per cent of deforestation, 29 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions and the leading share of biodiversity loss. Therefore, a sustainable way that better nutrition can be realized is by improving soil health and its restoration in barren areas. Healthy soil is vital for the growth of healthy food and healthy nutrition levels.

However, the concept that agriculture can serve food security in a siloed manner is untrue. Nutrition security needs to be tackled with a science–society–policy approach. The transformation of food security systems today depends on equally nourishing all people and looking at sustainable, eco-friendly ways of doing so. There needs to be better and scientific awareness about the consumption of foods such as refined wheat noodles and many biscuits that are extremely nutrition-poor, detrimental to the nutritional wellbeing of children and youth of the country.

Considering the universal urgency to ensure the availability of proper nutrition, especially for children and women, it is time to think globally and act locally.

(Santanu Mishra is Co-founder & Executive Trustee of Smile Foundation, and Dr Amita Singh, is an eminent nutritionist and currently working as a consultant at National Hospital, Bhopal)

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