Govt's choice for child rights panel chief flayed

Govt's choice for child rights panel chief flayed

Appointment political: Activists

The State government has announced the name of H R Umesh Aradhya hailing from Shimoga as the new chairperson of the Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights.

The appointment of Aradhya has sent a buzz of speculation as he is relatively unknown in the field of child rights. Even activists in Shimoga, who have been working for child rights for decades, professed their complete ignorance about him.

When contacted, Umesh Aradhya was himself unaware of his appointment, but said that he had served as member of the Child Welfare Committee (he could not remember the term), served with the Rotary Club and was also the secretary of a school for the mentally challenged called Asha Kirana in Shimoga.

Child rights activists are dismayed at what is seen as a political appointment, as there were several applications from people who have decades of experience in the field of child rights.

The Commission holds an important place in the field as it not only examines safeguards for protection of child rights, but also makes recommendations for implementation of these rights.

It also receives hundreds of complaints about violation of child rights and hears these petitions.

The Department of Women and Child Development, which is responsible for calling in applications for the post and selecting the members, gave a strange response. Principal Secretary Ramesh B Zalki said it was a political appointment and was made in the chief minister’s office, who is the minister for the department.

There is also no clarity on who constituted the selection committee, which is expected to include two experts from the field, apart from the minister concerned, the principal secretary and the director of the department.

A member of the child rights group, who frequently interacts with the Commission on various child rights issues, said they would now have to spend more time fighting on various issues rather than working with Commission.

What has galled activists is that heavyweights in the field of child rights like Vasudev Sharma and Sheela Devaraj have been ignored.

The present chairperson Nina Nayak has been a thorn in the government’s side on many issues on implementation of child rights. The move is being seen as an attempt to bring in someone more compliant and aligned with the view of the government on all the issues.

The other members who have been chosen for the committee are Fr Edward Thomas of Bosco, Venkatesha Lambodar Naik from Sirsi, B S Anuradha who was with National Institute of Public Cooperation and Child Development till 2008, G R Mukta from Bangalore, Vanitha Torvi from Bijapur and Shivaraje Gowda from Ramanagara district.

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