Bio: Yunus is a development communicator, born and brought up in Delhi, with  Social work background. He has worked on child protection issues as Project coordinator in a child help line of Delhi. Has worked with Self Help Groups of women with another NGO in Rajasthan. And has just completed his Postgraduate diploma in Development Communication, from AJK Mass communication and research center JMI.

Abstract: The research Asahaye mahanagar i.e. helpless city is a reflection of the unexplored ‘parts’ of the city by helpline workers themselves. Linking them together and showing as voices of the city. It explores the new work of help lines and their perspective of the city by presenting their encounters with it. It also describes the various issues for which city ‘calls’ for help. It explores the multiple meanings of a simple telephone ‘call’ for a helpline worker. Several   innovative methods have been used in this research like transit walk, participant observation, photography and the most exciting ‘sting operation’ telephone calls.
Contact: delhi.yunus @ gmail.com


First posting

Hi everybody,

My name is Yunus, I am from Delhi and I do social work for a living. Being in this profession for last three years and during my education I have been associated with many voluntary organizations that work on various issues like child rights, women empowerment and livelihoods etc. for last one year I have been associated with a Child help line, run by a voluntary organization and where my major responsibility is to coordinate with other organizations to help children in distress. As part of my work I got few opportunities of interacting with those parts, systems and mechanisms of the city, which I wouldn’t have done otherwise. This experience showed me a different picture of Delhi, which is usually distorted or ignored. The curiosity of exploring more and sharing my findings with others motivated me to Join Sarai as a researcher.

During last fifteen years because of new economic policies and structural adjustment program there has been dynamic changes in the concept and process of urbanization itself.all this has resulted in the increased complexities in city and city lives. To address these complexities and problems,initiatives were taken up by both governmental and non-governmental organizations. ‘Help line’ is one of them.

Through this research I will study Delhi from a perspective of help line workers. As the title suggests it will throw light at Helplessness of the national capital Delhi. However as case it will raise question about the social changes in any city,due to LPG (liberalization Privatization and Globalization) it will also highlight the contemporary meaning of Help for city dwellers and the web of HELP, NEEDS and SERVICES.

For the purpose of research,I will be interacting, interviewing and observing help line workers to study their lives, Work, Activities and client from close quarters. I intend to make transit walks with them to get their version of the city. I will take Pictures and facilitate them to click pictures of the significant parts of their life as a helpline worker and will try pen down their comments.

Along with exploring Helpline as new work And mapping lives of help line workers this research will also enter in the domains of other areas like impact of new technology on people, their behavior and communication, the integration of seemingly differentiated problems of people living in a city. also it will lead to a better insight into the various systems and mechanisms responsible for smooth functioning of the city.

i will try to share my future posting with reader list along with dewane sarai. Your feed back and comments are welcome.

Regards,

S M Yunus

o o o

14/4/06

Each helpline gets different types of calls representing diverse requirments of ‘help’ in a city.They usually operate in different shifts i.e morning evening and night. Recently I happen to be in the child helpline during the morning shift and came across a few cases. These cases are common but interesting to me because they present certain pictures of Delhi,Picures that reflects the helplessness of the city and representing those parts of the city which are usually ignored or not seen.

* A man brought a seventeen year old girl, he found him on the road roaming helplessly,when enquired she told that she belongs to jharkhand and was sent to Delhi by her parents to work through a palacement agency. she was working some where but was not treated humanly so she left the place to return home but lost in the way. And then she came in contact with childline..

* There was a emergency call from an adoption center about a four year old boys in Kalawati Saran hospital to provide medical care and nursing.

* Three Street children came to childline for shelter one of them was a repeater and he brought the other two. Repeater also mentioned that he has earlier escaped from a shelter home in Kingswaycamp.

* There was a rescue call from Zor bagh about a nine year old kid who works in a house and was thrashed by the owner,the caller wanted helpline worker to come immediately and save the child. The worker replied that he is referring the case to the concerned organization in the zone.

* Another lost child was refered by a concerned citizen from chandnichowk,he was roaming aimlessly, he was brought to delhi by some elder friend for the sake of ‘ghommne ke liye’.

* Parents of a runaway child came to take him back but he was not willing to return, he ran away from his home as was beaten by his parents as he sold out his school bag to kabadi wala.

* A fifteen year old girl was sitting near one of the the ladies staff she was pregnant and was thrown out by her step sister when it was found that she is pregnant.

* There was a complaint from Police station tilak marg thana that they called for help during night as they found a girlchild on the road but the worker did not replied

Such calls and cases are very common in childline now let us see the key words in these cases once again.

Placements agencies

Placement agencies are very common in delhi, they provide domestic maid servants to the Delhites who need them. Since domestic work like cleaning and washing does not need skilled labor it is a low paid job. mostly girls of 12 to 18 years of age are hired for such purpose. Usually girls from jharkhand,west bengal and bihar are brought to delhi for this purpose.There are many reasons and causes for such a movement, first of all these poverty ridden areas do not have much employment and livelihood opportunities,the families are large,hence girls are pushed to Delhi to work..But then a question arises that how can somebody send his/her daughter just like that? Answer lies in the existence of placement agencies and agents. These agents and agencies are run by people who first came to delhi in search of work and then later on established their own service. Agents bring girls from different villages to delhi promising their parents that they will regularly send money earned by their daughters,usually they are In-Laws of the village and some time different villages,many a times their better half is also the copartner in the business. the suspician is minimised when almost each family has sent its daughter to work. These domestic help placement agencies keep a record of these girls but they usually show less number of girls, that too of above eighteen years to save them from Law enforcing agencies.they say that they are registered bodies,but as per my knowledge no such act for registeration of placment agensies exist. When these girls are brought to Delhi,it is usually their first encounter, they are not able to commincate easily because of language problem,they don’t know complicated routes and roads of Delhi, they are placed in different familes of different parts of the city, their remuneration is collected by the agencies, and hence they don’t have money to go back home. if they are lucky enough to get a nice employer then there is no problem otherwise there are all kinds of horrible stories, of being beaten up badly,of being sexually abused,of being sold to people for flesh trade or being pregnant after promises of marriage. If any such girl in distress come in contact with helpline,they try to help her, unfortunately if the girl has ran away after being abused she is not able to identify the place where she was kept, so then they try to trace her address and contact her family,either with the help of Police, other network organisations or self. in few cases report is also launched against placement agencies but they are left free with out any charges when the girl say that she was brought by her own will, send by her family or that the agent is her some uncle, chacha, Mama or brother. And hence the helpline is left with the responsibility of searching her home or any other shelter where she can be rehabilitated.

Adoption center

Adoption center is another part of the city to which helpline workers interact with, these are the centers where small children uptill 0 to 7 years of age are kept as helpline workers don’t have a shelter and facility for them.. many a times small children are lost or abondaned because of various reasons. if any such child came in touch with childline or police or any organization or hospital they are referred to Adoption centers/agencies. The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, GOI. set up the Central Adoption Resource Agency in 1990 popularly known as CARA. It is a Central Authority in the matter of adoptions,it regulates,monitors and inspect adoption agencires and it only works for adoption of destitute and orphan children in Institutions. As per a document published by CARA there are approximately 69 indian Adoption placement agencies spread over the length and breadth of the country,to carry out inter country adoptions of children. There are 248 foreign agencies through which inter-country adoptions are done. In 2001 total 1899 in country adoptions were done, and 1298 inter- countery adoptions were done. People who dont have children some time want to adopt other children,City needs Adoption agencies to take care of orphan,abondaned and destitutes kids and adoptions agencies needs helplines, voluntary organizations, donations and ‘kids’ to run their service. yes both kids and donations are back bone of any adoption agencies.Adoption is covered in the Hindu Adoption and Maintenace Act, which is very strict means it is not easy to adopt a child in india,it does not allow people other than Hindu to adopt children in India, also the Donations given by Indian families are not much, this is probably the reason why inter country adoptions are increasing day by day. The system in the city seems ok but there are instances where adoption agencies has deliberately not tried to restore lost children, so that he/she can be adopted by some one in need. Though there are few mechanisms to regulate adoptions yet it does not work all the time.

Street children/ Escaped

News about children running from government homes is not new for delhites but the reasons of why do they run from such homes? Usually don’t get space in any newspaper expect whenever it is a sensational story. Government shelter homes come under the department of Social Welfare and Juvenile Justice care and protection Act 2000 (JJ Act). JJ act is the social legislation for children from zero to eighteen years of age. This act imposes the state with the primary responsibility of ensuring that all the needs of children are met and that their basic human rights are fully protected. It define children in two categories,children in need of care and protecion and children in conflict with law. the former are kept in shelter homes and competent authority for them is Child welfare Committee, where as later are kept in observation homes and the competent authority for them is Juvenile Justice Board.( I will provide detail about these seperately) Unfortunately both the places are literally ‘jail’ for children, here they are usually kept half fed,with no recreation accept TV, they do a lot of work for the staff, are abused by elder and stronger boys. And all limits of corruption are crossed by the staff so running away seems the best option for them Recently Mr Raj mangal Prasad Director of an NGO Association for Development brought out some facts about the ill practices of the Department of social welfare Delhi through Right to Information Act. Currently there are 10 shelter homes run by govt in which 1873 children are staying, govt spend approximately3500 rupees perchild / month, department was not able to provide clear breakup of expenditure, how ever these figure given by department themselves give us some idea: Under wear were purchased @67/piece as compare tomarket rate of 35 PT shoes @210 market rate 120 ladies shoes @280 market rate150 sweater @365 market rate 250 More than 70 % of Ambulances donated by CATS to be used as medical van are used by the staff for commuting. Most of the children staying in these shelter homes know their complete or partial address but, they have no one to take care of them as a result they are stucked in as if they are jailed.

Zone

Zone division is a constantly is a major concern for helplines in Delhi, basically delhi has been divided in to various zones by different systems, for instance childline works in Five zones, Delhi police works in Nine Zones. each zones has a set of issues and problems, but each one has a common problem of Zone overlapping. many atimes helpline worker try to avoid overlapping cases, by saying that it does not lie in there zone Particulary Police, in Delhi there are many places where areas of two police stations are divided by a Road, or railway line or just a park so if some one go there to lodge an FIR about a crime may be as serious as rape. The first question that is asked is ‘ ye ghatna road ke kis taraf hui’ at this if one manages to give a fairly precise anwer then the next question is ‘aap ko ye ladka/ladki kahan mile’.. and hence the ‘zone’ excuse is presented before you.

26/4/06

In continuing my work on reading Delhi from the perspective of helpline workers, recently I went to attend a symposium organized by a foundation on rights and needs of elderly, it was held at Indian Habitat Center and more than 60 people came to attend it. Majority of the participants were ‘senior citizen’, (may be because younger generation do not put this agenda on their priority). The reason behind my presence was the fact that foundation also runs a helpline for old age people in Delhi. After being there I got to know few concerns of the old age people, I met few people working with elderly, and volunteers of old age helpline. Then later on I went to the helpline and interacted with volunteers to saw and capture some glimpse of the aging city.

The Aging city

With the sensex touching the highest point and youngster loosing control on music, ‘here and now’ seems the appropriate philosophy of life. if seen through the eyes of Mr Mathur a volunteer in the helpline for senior citizen, The picture is a little gloomy. he shared with me that one faces alot of many challenges as he crosses 60 ( some times a little earlier or later), with memory getting weak, body fragile and prone to ailments & infections and decrease in most of capabilities even the simplest task become hard to accomplish. With the increase in longevity and the fear of remaining ‘alone’ and of ‘dying’, as near and dear ones starts going away, the old age people are left with loneliness, despair and alienation. According to him older people want respect,companionship and opportunities to live with their beliefs and dignity, on their little bit of pension and savings or on children, but the ever-increasing ‘cost of living in a city’ is creating barriers in doing so. Their dignity and self-respect is shattered in the harsh encounter with the younger generation. with rapid urbanization their joint family ‘dream’ is only left in drama, even if the youngsters are concerned about the senior citizens they don’t get enough time from jobs to know their needs as they are busy in fulfilling requirments of the family in this cut throat competition, as a result all that comes in the share of older people is weakness, arthritis, all type of ailments, body ache, sleeplessness and feeling of uselessness. Mr Mathur said that Being 66 himself he is able to empathize with the clients who contact them through phone or personally, when they ventilate their feelings, when they abuse their son, or in-laws or the helpline worker himself, he know how it feels when one has to travel in buses, and walk in bright sun to save money for other priorities when there are less chances of extra income. He also knows the pain of not being taken seriously and not able to comprehend the situation quickly. After being attached to organization he once again found himself part of mainstream. He also stated that no young person can do counselling at old age helpline as old person do because they can not understand ‘our’ situation,but he clarified that the helpline also need young people to run around and do all the leg work to assist old people in distress and to respond to their call. The ‘call’ for help by senior citizen can be understood through the number of cases recieved by the helpline,as it is one form of ‘their voices’. since 1999 the helpline has so far received over 124326 calls and visits seeking help. An overwhelming 17368 were predominantly of legal/medical and financial nature as on March31st þ 2006, other social problems (16099) followed by loneliness (15971) pension fund/insurance issues accounted for 14913, regarding relationship with family members were 12718 and rest were about general inquires.In general following are some of the ‘help’ provided to senior citizens:

Guidance in getting medical/shelter aid from govt as well as Non-govt agencies
Submission of claim forms with concerned authorities
Counseling for psychological, emotional problems.
Interaction with family members, relatives, friends etc.
Restoration of basic facilities like water phone &electricity

Questions that arise in my mind: Our needs wants and desire require fulfillment of some sort or another,but when should we name them as services,facilities or help? What is ‘help’ ? How many classification of citizenship can we do in a city, senior, responsible,antisocial,differently abled,secondary,indegenious, migrant,refugee, marginalised?

feedback and suggestions are invited yunus

23/4/06

While interacting with helpline workers I have found a common thread in the helplines i have visited,each of them has one or more volunteer or worker who was himself or herself beneficiary of Helpline at some point or another,and the help they got from it was the motivating factor for them to be associated with it. following is a life history of a worker. Child helpline worker PK belongs to bihar, (generally people will call him a runaway child) according to him he left his home at the age of 16 after having disagreement in his family, he was tenth passed at that time full of confidence and energy that he can do any thing. After leaving his home he spent some time on streets of India, first he travelled many places then he went to punjab and started working in a Dhaba, he worked there for few months but sooner came to know that nothing good will come out of it so he left that and went to Faridabad and started working in a thread factory. He liked that job and was very hard working & sincere,so very soon he got promoted to the post of supervisor. Pk was doing well in the factory until one day, when the tragic accident took place, there was fire all over the factory many people were burnt including him, he was unconscious for more than one month, his employeer was a nice man and he took care of him, but when he became conscious, he found his life miserable as 40 % of his body was burnt, he was not able to do any work by his hands, his confidence was shattered and out going personality was transformed, he did not wanted to interact with other people so he went back his home. when he returned he home did not wanted to show his face to anybody but people kept asking questions about his burnt body,which made him very depressed, so he again left his home came to Delhi and contacted childline. childline workers treated him diferently from rest of the world and helped him to come over trauma. with the help of counsellors and medical treatment he once again gained his self respect and courage to move on. He was so impresed by the service that he volunteered himself in childline after the recovery. Since than he has been working in childline as a team member and helpling children in distress specially children who live on street. PK said that he enjoy his work as its gives him satisfaction. he is also pursuing higher studies through correspondence.he likes do challenging jobs as it boosts his confidence. At times there are difficulties and problems in helpline to when the get difficult cases,but the worst part of his job is the ‘shift’ changing rituals which no body likes,as it disturbs the whole routine. Interestingly PK said that he is a change person ‘outside’ helpline otherwise we wont be able to survive, for example ‘helpline worker’ are suppose to be soft spoken with controlled emotional involvement, but as he leaves his office he become a differently person, he is a tough guy when he travel in a local train, where there are lots of people ready to mess and over power the weak, so he is ready all the time to give equal and opposite reaction, this is the reason why some times he feels very restricted and frustrated in handling ‘difficult calls’. At last they have to be in a boundry, have to bear all ‘abuses’ on phone. Responding to the job timings he said that that 9 to 5 job is good because it does not disturb the routine,one can have a personal life too, can enjoy to avoid all sort of stress and frustration. on being asked that what do he do in his free time at home to relax he said that at home he loves music especially old songs of lata and Pankaj Udhas. Even today he dont like making many friends,he has only one friend with whom he go out for movies and walk. following are the different services childhelpline provides to children in distress: Medical

Shelter
Repatriation
Rescue from abuse
Death related
Sponsorship
Child lost
Emotional support and guidance
Information about referral /Childline.

23.4.06

In continuing my work on reading Delhi from the perspective of helpline workers, recently I went to attend a symposium organized by a foundation on rights and needs of elderly, it was held at Indian Habitat Center and more than 60 people came to attend it. Majority of the participants were ‘senior citizen’, (may be because younger generation do not put this agenda on their priority). The reason behind my presence was the fact that foundation also runs a helpline for old age people in Delhi. After being there I got to know few concerns of the old age people, I met few people working with elderly, and volunteers of old age helpline. Then later on I went to the helpline and interacted with volunteers to saw and capture some glimpse of the aging city.

The Aging city

With the sensex touching the highest point and youngster loosing control on music, ‘here and now’ seems the appropriate philosophy of life. if seen through the eyes of Mr Mathur a volunteer in the helpline for senior citizen, The picture is a little gloomy. he shared with me that one faces alot of many challenges as he crosses 60 ( some times a little earlier or later), with memory getting weak, body fragile and prone to ailments & infections and decrease in most of capabilities even the simplest task become hard to accomplish. With the increase in longevity and the fear of remaining ‘alone’ and of ‘dying’, as near and dear ones starts going away, the old age people are left with loneliness, despair and alienation. According to him older people want respect,companionship and opportunities to live with their beliefs and dignity, on their little bit of pension and savings or on children, but the ever-increasing ‘cost of living in a city’ is creating barriers in doing so. Their dignity and self-respect is shattered in the harsh encounter with the younger generation. with rapid urbanization their joint family ‘dream’ is only left in drama, even if the youngsters are concerned about the senior citizens they don’t get enough time from jobs to know their needs as they are busy in fulfilling requirments of the family in this cut throat competition, as a result all that comes in the share of older people is weakness, arthritis, all type of ailments, body ache, sleeplessness and feeling of uselessness. Mr Mathur said that Being 66 himself he is able to empathize with the clients who contact them through phone or personally, when they ventilate their feelings, when they abuse their son, or in-laws or the helpline worker himself, he know how it feels when one has to travel in buses, and walk in bright sun to save money for other priorities when there are less chances of extra income. He also knows the pain of not being taken seriously and not able to comprehend the situation quickly. After being attached to organization he once again found himself part of mainstream. He also stated that no young person can do counselling at old age helpline as old person do because they can not understand ‘our’ situation,but he clarified that the helpline also need young people to run around and do all the leg work to assist old people in distress and to respond to their call. The ‘call’ for help by senior citizen can be understood through the number of cases recieved by the helpline,as it is one form of ‘their voices’. since 1999 the helpline has so far received over 124326 calls and visits seeking help. An overwhelming 17368 were predominantly of legal/medical and financial nature as on March31st þ 2006, other social problems (16099) followed by loneliness (15971) pension fund/insurance issues accounted for 14913, regarding relationship with family members were 12718 and rest were about general inquires.In general following are some of the ‘help’ provided to senior citizens:

Guidance in getting medical/shelter aid from govt as well as Non-govt agencies
Submission of claim forms with concerned authorities
Counseling for psychological, emotional problems.
Interaction with family members, relatives, friends etc.
Restoration of basic facilities like water phone &electricity

Questions that arise in my mind: Our needs wants and desire require fulfillment of some sort or another,but when should we name them as services,facilities or help? What is ‘help’ ? How many classification of citizenship can we do in a city, senior, responsible,antisocial,differently abled,secondary,indegenious, migrant,refugee, marginalised?

feedback and suggestions are invited yunus

27/6/06

Experimental Research:

Just to share that I am trying to collect some data from my respondents ( helpline workers) through photographs and my first learning is that,no matter how right and open questions you ask, respondent have a lot more to ask from you. So for the purpose of getting open response,I gave a hot shot camera to one of the worker and asked him to click pictures of his interest related to his work.

He has been taking snaps for quite some years for the sake of keeping records of cases in helpline and to record events like meetings, awareness programs or evidence etc, but he was a little curious to know why I have bought a new camera and confused about what type of pictures he is supposed to take and he asked me a number of questions. Making him a little bit comfortable and leaving him sort of ‘open’ for his ideas I told him my purpose and suggested to take snaps of significant part of his work life.few days back he handed me the camera with the exposed film, a sense of responsibility and a brief sharing of his experience. he said that the experience was both refreshing and troubling at times. Refreshing because he got to do some thing out of the ‘stress’ of helpline. He said that he was very conscious while taking each snap that there should be some ‘logic behind them’. But he enjoyed doing it and curious to see the results.

In a light mood he also shared that while taking snaps of GRP police, he faced a little problem because the police man was skeptical about why he is taking pictures. He also gave reasons of why he has shot photographs of girls at Pulse polio booth and that I should not think of any ulterior motive ( I haven’t ask so far about any thing). I will get back to him once the photographs are developed to get is comments on them. In the meantime i have given the camera to another respondents (after facing another round of questions and getting refused by two of them). hope to share the findings soon,

Yunus