The Hindu: “Are women not part of our being”

February 19, 2013 § Leave a comment

Here is a link to my OP/ED.

My opinion piece in The Hindu, on the scourge of sexual and gender violence in India, which is deeply troubling. Without collective resolve, education, awareness raising and affirmative action this problem will continue to cause misery to many women and children .


Siddharth Chatterjee Perspectives-About my work in the Red Cross, the UN and the Army.

February 19, 2013 § 1 Comment

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A very special moment for me: Demobilized child soldiers returning home in South Sudan, 2001

This is a collection of my articles and opinion pieces. The topics span sexual & gender based violence, child soldiers, food security, public health, eradication of polio & protection of the vulnerable. Having witnessed compelling human tragedies and triumphs, my perspectives have been shaped by my diverse experiences in the Army, the UN, the Red Cross as well as a dad. I genuinely believe that we can together advance peace, humanity and give our children a future full of hope.

This is the link:

TED x: “Demobilizing Child Soldiers – A Story of Change”

February 19, 2013 § Leave a comment

Here is a link to the YouTube of the TEDx talk.

 Amongst the most egregious violations of child rights, is the wide spread use of child soldiers, which continues unabated and with impunity to this day. The Kony 2012 video acted as a wake up call for the civilized world to be reminded about the horrors children in Northern Uganda are exposed to. But it is a fact that everyday hundreds of thousands of children are being used by armed groups all over the world in conflicts.
At a TED x event in Spain, I spoke about this awful practice, and reflect on my time in South Sudan when it was at war with the North and there was rampant use of children as combatants, and as mere cannon fodder in this conflict, as in many parts of the world.What we did in South Sudan was to demonstrate that we do not need to wait for conflicts to end before children can be demobilized from the variegated militaries and militias.  Engaging and persuading all parties to the conflict as well as the broader civil society is critical. Civil societies and communities themselves need to take a strong stand to prevent recruitment of children as it is clear that governments as well as non state actors, can’t do it on their own.

Experts say that once conflicts end and many psychologically scarred child soldiers and young adults, (who have graduated to adulthood from being child soldiers) are demobilized and returned to their communities, it keeps the peace fragile and amplifies the insecurity. Parts of Africa, Asia and South America risk long term instability as there is evidence of children moving from one armed group to another, or become part of criminal gangs.

The Kony 2012 video viewed by over 100 million people, spurred the US congress into action to stop Joseph Kony from getting away with crimes against humanity committed over two decades.  The incarceration of former President of Liberia, Charles Taylor and the notorious Congolese warlord, Thomas Lubunga is a step in the right direction.
We should not be held hostage to the obstinacy of armed groups, who violate the rights of the child and the optional protocols by using and abusing children as combatants or non combatants, regardless of their character, cause or ideology.  Without exception, condemnation of such actions must be unequivocal and universal. There must be ‘zero-tolerance’ of these groups or those that support these groups. They must know that the full force of justice awaits them.

Finally my TED x talk is also a tribute to the leadership of UNICEF and its staff who worked in South Sudan in one of the most adverse and challenging environments then, and they believed that this was the right thing to do, despite the grave risks of such an untried enterprise being undertaken during a conflict and with a very uncertain ending.

Without the partnership, concern and collegiality of the Samaritans Purse, the International Rescue Committee, the Norwegian Refugee Council, the UN’s World Food Programme, as well as the local NGOs of South Sudan, this programme could have easily failed.

President Salva Kiir of South Sudan, then the Commander of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, stood by his word…though it did not end the use children during the remaining years of the conflict, but this was an important beginning. It showed that non state actors can also be encouraged and persuaded to abide by international protocols.

The world needs to stand up and say NO to child soldiers. We all have a stake in shaping a better world, and that means investing, protecting and nurturing all children today

Reuters: “India’s malnutrition plight: The effects are more dire than we think “

February 19, 2013 § Leave a comment

Here is a link to my OP/ED.

November 19, 2012 was the former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s birth anniversary and to commemorate it, President Pranab Mukherjee together with celebrity Bollywood actor and UNICEF’s Goodwill Ambassador Aamir Khan will launch one of the Government of India’s most ambitious campaigns to combat malnutrition. This will mark a very important step to invest in the early childhood development of the country’s children. 

India has more malnourished children than sub Saharan Africa. The statistics are frightening and do not augur well for the country’s human development.

Forbes: As Deaths Mount In Pakistan, Ending Polio Becomes An Act Of Courage

February 19, 2013 § Leave a comment

Here is a link to my OP/ED.

In late December 2012, hope in Pakistan’s polio eradication efforts was punctuated by the reckless killing of 9 health workers. These health workers knew of the risks they faced and yet demonstrated compelling acts of courage and devotion to their work. 
My OP/ED is a tribute to these brave health workers.The end of polio is in sight. This is the moment our collective resolve matters most.

The Guardian: “To fully eradicate polio, India must go beyond its own borders”

February 19, 2013 § Leave a comment

Here is link to my OP/ED

On Sunday, January 14, 2013, India marked two years with no reported case of polio. Given the size of population, widespread poverty, poor health and physical infrastructure and pockets of insecurity, this is remarkable.

What a propitious start to the New Year.
But India still needs to maintain its polio free status for another year, before it can be declared polio free. And until polio is eradicated completely, the threat of polio re-infecting India and other countries hangs like the ‘Sword of the Damocles’.
Polio is now present in three countries-Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The disease has to be eradicated from these countries in order for the world to rid itself of this crippling disease.
We are at the last mile and have to be resolute and unwavering in ensuring the utter and complete demise of polio.

Huffington Post: “South Asia’s Water Woes-Is there hope?”

February 19, 2013 § Leave a comment

Here is a link to my OP/ED in the Huffington Post

World Water Day is being celebrated on March 22, 2013. Even after nearly twenty years since World Water Day started in 1993, over 1000 children in India die daily from water borne diseases.

The entire world is watching India celebrate Kumbh Mela one of the holiest festivals in the Hindu calendar, which happens every 12 years. Sadly the waters of the Ganges where 30 million bathed on February 10, is neither fit for bathing or drinking. The National Geographic once described the Ganges as a septic tank, and they may be right, as the levels of fecal contamination is really jaw dropping.

I thought it would be useful to draw attention to this important event with an opinion piece I have developed with Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh, WHO’s (World Health Organization) Deputy Regional Director for the South East Asian Regional Office.

We hope this piece will generate a broader discussion on the grim situation on access to clean water and sanitation. Not only is it a future flash point for a conflict in the region as the Himalayan glaciers have begun to shrink but it is also amongst  one of the most polluted water ways in the world and causes enormous misery, morbidity and mortality to the over 500 million people that depend on these waters.

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