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Essence of freedom: What independence means to the poor children of India

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By Arnab Mitra

When the country is celebrating its 69th Independence Day, children at some corners of the country are dying from hunger and are working in tea stalls and factories to make ends meet.

The Government is reluctant to look after these Indians even as thousands of children die every day. According to UNESCO, India ranked 71 in concern of children health and education.

To help the poor children, Kolkata-based group ABCD (Any Body Can Donate) today organized a program with some hundred slum children of Kolkata, to give them a ray of enjoyment in their melee.

NewsGram had an interaction with one of the founding members of the group Any Body Can Donate, Arka Jyoti Pal who expressed his deep concern about the fate of these poor children.

Arnab Mitra: 69th year of independence. Why does India neglect her children?

Arka Jyoti Pal: It is because the rich are becoming richer and the poor become poorer. The government does not have time to look after these poor children, they are busy in increasing their salary with black money.

AM: What is the motto behind your group?

Arka: Our motto is “To help the neglected class”. Every party shouts about helping the poor during the election, but the condition of these poor people remains same. They don’t have any independence, they are still deprived of their basic rights of food, health and shelter. It is a shame to an independent nation.

AM: How do you intend to help these poor children?

Arka: Every year, according to the basis of merit, we help them in their higher education. We are also trying to build an institution where we can provide free education to these poor children.

NewsGram also talked with some poor children and they said they could not savor the feeling of being independent.

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Claiming Bias, U.S.A. And Israel Pull Out Of UNESCO

The U.S. could potentially seek that status during UNESCO Executive Board meetings in April.

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The logo of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) is seen druing a conference at UNESCO headquarters in Paris, France, Nov. 4, 2017. VOA

The United States and Israel officially quit of the U.N.’s educational, scientific and cultural agency at the stroke of midnight, the culmination of a process triggered more than a year ago amid concerns that the organization fosters anti-Israel bias.

The withdrawal is mainly procedural yet serves a new blow to UNESCO, co-founded by the U.S. after World War II to foster peace.

The Trump administration filed its notice to withdraw in October 2017 and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu followed suit.

The Paris-based organization has been denounced by its critics as a crucible for anti-Israel bias: blasted for criticizing Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem, naming ancient Jewish sites as Palestinian heritage sites and granting full membership to Palestine in 2011.

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UN Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation. Image Source: www.mid-day.com

The U.S. has demanded “fundamental reform” in the agency that is best known for its World Heritage program to protect cultural sites and traditions. UNESCO also works to improve education for girls, promote understanding of the Holocaust’s horrors, and to defend media freedom.

The withdrawals will not greatly impact UNESCO financially, since it has been dealing with a funding slash ever since 2011 when both Israel and the U.S. stopped paying dues after Palestine was voted in as a member state. Since then officials estimate that the U.S. — which accounted for around 22 percent of the total budget — has accrued $600 million in unpaid dues, which was one of the reasons for President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw. Israel owes an estimated $10 million.

UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay took up her post just after Trump announced the pullout. Azoulay, who has Jewish and Moroccan heritage, has presided over the launch of a Holocaust education website and the U.N.’s first educational guidelines on fighting anti-Semitism — initiatives that might be seen as responding to U.S. and Israeli concerns.

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Migrants wait in line for food at a camp housing hundreds of people who arrived at the U.S. border from Central America with the intention of applying for asylum in the U.S., in Tijuana, Mexico, Dec. 12, 2018. VOA

Officials say that many of the reasons the U.S. cited for withdrawal do not apply anymore, noting that since then, all 12 texts on the Middle East passed at UNESCO have been consensual among Israel and Arab member states.

In April of this year, Israel’s ambassador to UNESCO said the mood was “like a wedding” after member nations signed off on a rare compromise resolution on “Occupied Palestine,” and UNESCO diplomats hailed a possible breakthrough on longstanding Israeli-Arab tensions.

The document was still quite critical of Israel, however, and the efforts weren’t enough to encourage the U.S. and Israel to reconsider their decision to quit.

In recent years, Israel has been infuriated by repeated resolutions that ignore and diminish its historical connection to the Holy Land and that have named ancient Jewish sites as Palestinian heritage sites.

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Israel Flag, Pixabay

The State Department couldn’t comment because of the U.S. government shutdown. Earlier, the department told UNESCO officials the U.S. intends to stay engaged at UNESCO as a non-member “observer state” on “non-politicized” issues, including the protection of World Heritage sites, advocating for press freedoms and promoting scientific collaboration and education.

Also Read: Israel Unanimously Approves Medical Marijuana Exports

The U.S. could potentially seek that status during UNESCO Executive Board meetings in April.

The United States has pulled out of UNESCO before. The Reagan administration did so in 1984 because it viewed the agency as mismanaged, corrupt and used to advance Soviet interests. The U.S. rejoined in 2003. (VOA)