1 . MATHAMMA RITUAL – AN EXPLOITATION THAT REFUSES TO END
SOURCE – HINDU
RELEVANCE – GS MAINS PAPER I & II . GS PRELIMS
- Young girls dedicated to Indian village temples and worshipped as goddesses as part of a decades-old religious tradition are victims of abuse and slavery.
- The National Human Rights Commission has recently said in a report that the ritual practised in the southern states of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh and some western areas is a form of the banned devadasi system outlawed in 1988.
- Also known as Mathammas, the girls are dressed as brides before their ‘dresses are removed, virtually leaving them naked’, and then condemned to a life of sex worker.
- ‘They are denied to live with their families and have education. They are forced to live in Mathamma temples, deemed to be … public property and face sexual exploitation,’ the commission said in a statement.
- The report was referring to a 15 day festival in parts of Tamil Nadu, where local goddesses are worshipped and seven young girls are chosen by the community to stay in the temple.
- In the name of tradition, hundreds of girls between the ages of seven and 10 years are made to stay in the temple premises during the festivities.
- These girls, or Mathammas as they are referred to in parts of Tamil Nadu, are then forbidden to marry and must earn their living by dancing at the Hindu temples.
- In some cases young girls being initiated into the practice have to be bare-chested with only garlands and jewels covering them, while in others they are made to carry pots of liquor as part of the celebrations.
- The Women Dedication (Prevention) Act, 1988 has had no effect on the Mathamma system .
2 . STUBBLE – BURNING IN PUNJAB, HARYANA : FEW OPTIONS FOR FARMERS
SOURCE – ECONOMIC TIMES
RELEVANCE – GS MAINS III & GS PRELIMS
- With the central and state governments, and even the National Green Tribunal (NGT), coming down heavily on stubble-burning in Punjab and Haryana, farmers in both the states say they have few options available to avoid burning the crop residue.
- The central and state governments, in recent years, have tried several steps — from warning farmers to registering cases against them to creating awareness on stubble-burning, but nothing seems to be working.
- The burning of the crop residue, leading to pollution and even smog over northern India in the winter months, has serious health implications for the people.
- But most farmers are not well off. They cannot adopt the scientific and technological methods being suggested as it costs money. They have no option but to burn the residue to clear their agricultural fields and be ready for sowing the next crop.
- Green Revolution state Punjab, with just 1.54 per cent of the country’s geographical area, contributes 50 per cent of foodgrain (wheat and paddy) to the national kitty.
- As per Punjab government estimates, there are over 1.75 million farmers in the state, which has a population of 28 million.
- With 75 per cent of the 19.7 million tonnes of paddy straw generated in Punjab every year, the problem has assumed dangerous proportions, leading to loss of organic material for soil, degradation of air quality and high SPM levels.
- Of the total paddy straw, only 21.8 per cent is consumed in biomass-based projects, paper/cardboard mills and animal fodder/other uses, while a small portion is managed through other systems such as machinery and equipment.
- Punjab’s Science and Technology Department has suggested managing the remaining 15.40 million tonnes per year of paddy residue through crop diversification, straw management equipment and industrial use. But all these steps require significant investment.
STEPS TAKEN BY PUNJAB GOVERNMENT TO LIMIT STUBBLE BURNING
- The state had, in 2013, issued orders under Section 19(5) of the Air Act, 1981, banning the burning of all kinds of crop residue.
- All Deputy Commissioners have issued orders banning the burning of wheat straw and other residue in their districts.
- A major campaign has also been launched to create awareness among the farmers about the ill-effects of stubble-burning.
- Steps are also being taken to monitor instances of stubble burning, with the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) engaging the Punjab Remote Sensing Centre, Ludhiana, to deliver real-time information about fire incidents.
- During the wheat harvesting season earlier this year, Rs 61.47 lakh in fines was imposed on farmers involved in 10,905 incidents of stubble-burning. The money is yet to be recovered from the erring farmers.