Times of India Negative Headlines:

"New Reality: Orphanages as Business"


BANGALORE: In Karnataka, all you need to start an orphanage for children is to have a building. You needn't have a license. The corollary of this glaring shortcoming: lack of accountability and a quick buck for the asking.   Having unearthed a major racket involving many individuals out to exploit orphans for their gains, the Karnataka State Council for Child Welfare has written to the government to license the 5,000-odd orphanages or institutions working for the "welfare" of children.   What was the modus operandi of some applicants? Approach an NGO and offer to take care of a few children. Put out their details on the web inviting foreign sponsors. And even as the foreign deal is being worked out, hire out the children for employment.   "In the absence of a licensing system, there are no checks and balances on persons starting such institutions. Every week, the council has individuals approaching us to give children, because they want to educate them.   
They show some fancy building to NGOs and take away children only to exploit them and earn money," says child welfare committee chairperson Neena Nayak.

The Orphanages and Charitable (Control and Regulation) Act of 1960 has it that anyone starting an institution for orphaned children must be licensed. But Karnataka is yet to implement the Act. Result: Individuals merely register their association with the registrar of societies and set up business.

"Since the nature of their work is not revealed and there is no followup action, exploitation goes on unabated," she said. The department of women and child welfare merely conducts inspections.

The committee receives at least five requests every week seeking permission for such institutions. "Even if we refuse and wish to check their credentials, they approach an NGO for children. Unless we begin licensing these institutions, child abuse will continue," Nayak said.

Letters to the Editor Not Published by TOI:

From: ronnie johnson <ronniebangalore@gmail.com>
To: lettersbg@indiatimes.com Date: Oct 12, 2005 8:54 AM Subject: Article in TOI, 12th Oct, 2005
Sub: Regarding Orphanages

Dear Editor,
Sub: Article on Orphanages by Seethalakshmi S., dated 12 Oct., 2005
I am quite surprised by your news reporter's article under the caption 'New Reality: Orphanages as business'. The article is very one sided, and unfortunately blankets all Orphanages as a 'business racket'. More surprisingly, is that there is no research done to find ot is the statement made in the reported article is true, and is there are any genuine orphanages. Your reporter should have done home work, and by this 'negative' reporting, many children will now suffer because people will not give the needy and suspiciously look at every orphanage as 'racketeers'.

How many of those in the reported article have gone down into the gutters or dustbins and picked up a child who is lying in urine and eating his own faeces, or who is eating his flesh because of hunger? When there is someone from those 'welfare board' organizations who can stand up and be another Mother Teresa, then let them make statements, and your reporter convey those messages. Has the Chairperson ever done this? If so, then I apologize.

Kindly have an 'Open Forum' to rectify the statement made by the reporting of Seethalakshmi.

I support an Orphanage which is running for the last 18 years without Government support, and it hurts to see what a few rash irrelevant statements reported could do to the people who struggle to look after the despised, neglected, castaway, abused, street children and challenged children.

The report does not mention the 'Catch 22' situation, that the Government does not want to take care of Orphanages, but at the same time does not allow NGO's to do so.

many years ago, my late uncle Joe Vaz was the sub-editior of TOI Bombay, and he was very meticulous in correct and positive reporting and not just 'headline' captioning grabbing. He always stood for the correctness and 'positive thinking' of a balanced report.

By reporting a person's statement, you as TOI have done a great damage to the children who are less fortunate in Bangalore.

Ronnie Johnson, The BangaloreWalla,
91 80 22240145, My Bangalore Page: http://www.oocities.org/ronnie.johnson
5/3 King Street, Bangalore 560025

From: Reubin Fernandez <reubinjf@yahoo.com>
To: lettersbg@indiatimes.com Date: Oct 13, 2005 9:25 AM
Subject: Letter to the Editor

Reubin Fernandez
Shalom, 2AC 204 HRBR Layout,
Block 3, Bangalore 560084
Email: reubin@indiatimes.com <mailto:reubin@indiatimes.com>

The Editor,
The Times Of India,

Sub: Letter to the Editor
Reference: TOI dated Wed: 12 Oct 2005 Titled: ‘New Reality : Orphanages as Business’
Dear Sir,
The above report by Seethalakshmi. S published on the front page of your paper was totally unworthy of a newspaper of your stature. In one sweeping, baseless report you have tarnished the image of countless orphanages that are doing selfless services in rehabilitating abandoned, unwanted children. True, like in every other field of service there are some unscrupulous persons who exploit the system and they should be exposed & dealt with by the law. But to generalise and publish such un-researched or baseless allegation is irresponsible, to say the least. I suggest that your reporter take a tour of some of the orphanages in this very city of Bangalore and see for herself the work being done by several institutions and committed individuals who toil without any Government support, depending only on the generosity of people of goodwill and the strength of their commitment. It is the duty of the media like the TOI to mobilise support & promote such work . The Times Of India/Bangalore Times daily features flashy colour pages of the rich & famous partying for frivolous causes and occasions. If only a fraction of this money & publishing space could be dedicated for the benefit of these unfortunate children, the lives of so many homeless children on our streets could have been different. Please Sir, these orphanages are not asking for your promotion or publicity but at least do not deride & marginalise the good work by such arm-chair reporting.

Yours truly,

Reubin Fernadez

From: Habellmartin@aol.com <Habellmartin@aol.com>
To: lettersbg@indiatimes.com
Cc: morningstarblr@yahoo.com, ronniebangalore@gmail.com, reubinjf@yahoo.com, esudhir@gmail.com
Date: Oct 14, 2005 8:22 PM Subject: Article on orphanages by Seethalakshmi

As a Fellow of the Royal Society of Health in London and author of the Society's paper "Healing Cities" (on the web), I, along with others, strive to promote the Society's precept of raising worldwide awareness of city habitation issues. We mobilise support to alleviate desease and society breakdown. We support causes that need help.

It was cheap journalism of the worst kind that has undone the work of countless honest and well intended individuals in Bangalore when the Times of India chose to publish sensationalist headlines("New Reality: Orphanages as business" TOI news network 11th Oct.2005). I had thought the TOI stood for thorough research and balanced journalism. I read an article that was sensationalist, unresearched, factually unsupported and mendacious.

Can you imagine how insulting it is to everyone's efforts outside India that we are portrayed as mugs who are being hoodwinked on the web into stumping up funds? Do you think we do not check?

Whether or not a licencing arrangement for orphanages were to exist, the dire need for monetary assistance exists in a city straining in its growth.You have a Government that choses not to licence. It has its reasons but I note that it is the one pushing for more capacity. Do not destroy the desperately needed assistance for children abandoned by their society by talking up scandals. Believe me, I would rather be stung for a donation than to feel I have stood idly by while the sick, the disabled, the homeless and the unloved rot on street corners. Have you no shame?

I am actively involved in helping the Morning Star project in Bangalore. It is a Learning Centre and orphanage.
Why? because I have great affection for a city I was educated in. Here is an organisation of selfless individuals desperately trying to provide a home for abandoned and ignored children who are physically and mentally disabled. Bangalore needs people like this.In a city of rising prosperity they see many falling through the net.They are rolling up their sleeves and doing something about it. Are you?

Rather than being praised they stand accused of fraud by your paper that choses to brand everyone in the industry with collective guilt without a single quoted example. How will these people move on? How will the children survive as you so assiduously turn off the tap of assistance?

The least you could do is go and look at what they are doing, talk to the people who have given up everything to help, talk to the donors, talk to the children. Be balanced in your jounalism.

So I call upon the Times of India.Make amends. Help us,don't work against us.

Martin Habell Dip.Arch.(Thames) ATP RIBA FRSH