First report on the Andhra Pradesh Cyclone Relief Project of the India Network Foundation 29 January 1997
In response to a call from the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh and concerned with the damage caused by the cyclone in November 1996, the India Network Foundation, a non-profit , charitable and educational organization launched fund raising campaign to help victims of this cyclone. The India Network Foundation thanks profoundly all contributors for their confidence in the India Network Foundation to do something unique to help victims in a timely fashion and their support with funds. In the process, the India Network Foundation decided to focus on primary education and educational institutions as individuals and other organizations have already been rehabilitated by various governmental and non-governmental agencies.
In December, Dr. Rao undertook the task of visiting the Cyclone hit areas from his own resources and attempted to utilize 100 percent of the funds collected towards relief efforts. Dr. Rao spent three and half weeks in Andhra Pradesh visiting as many as 150 schools and villages located in remote areas to examine the cyclone damage and determine the best way to help rebuild the schools. All primary school headmasters were requested to send a letter listing their school requirements that the Government may never provide and we hope to computerize that list to provide assistance in future to these and other schools in various locations. The India Network encourages individual members to adopt a school of their own choice and allow India Network to continue these efforts to strenghten primary education in India (the most neglected part of the education system in India – rural India).
In summary, the India Network Foundation initiated the following in the two districts of Andhra Pradesh:
a) Godrej type Almara with safes, manufactured locally – 5.5 ft height by 2.5 ft width On visits to various schools, it was apparent that they lack a safe and secure place to keep the records of students. The Almara=92s provided are expected to last a longtime providing secure location to keep student records.
b) Laminated maps of World, India and Andhra Pradesh. It has been found that Paper Maps with cloth background supplied by governmental agencies were destroyed by frequent floods, cyclones and rats.
c) Stainless Steel Water Drums with glasses to provide safe drinking water to children. Where possible, the foundation would help school obtain a water tap if such supply exists.
d) Asbestos sheets to repair roofs damaged during the cyclone.
The items a) to c) will be provided to about 400 elementary schools in the twin districts. Asbestos sheets will be supplied to schools where roofs have been damaged and government may not provide funds to repairs.
On select basis, the India Network Foundation also purchased school sites in two villages and provided partial funding for construction of a building where government would match our contribution. Final list of schools and villages benefited from our efforts is expected to be available in a month or two (due to manufacturing delays, the distribution of items a) and b) is expected to take time).
Meetings with Officials and Political Leaders
Dr. Rao met with Sri D. Ramakrishna, IAS, Collector of West Godavari District to assess the efforts of the government and to obtain a list of schools damaged due to cyclone. Also met with Sri J.S.V. Prasad, IAS, Collector of East Godavari District (these are the two districts hit hard by the cyclone and Collector is the district administrator in-charge of all Governmental departmental departments at the district level). Sri Ramakrishna, a former lecturer extended the greatest co-operation and support to the India Network Foundation and its objective of helping the primary schools in his district while Sri Prasad showed less than enthusiastic support and have to make several attempts to see him. =20
Sri M.V. Krishna Rao, Member of Legislative Assembly from Tanuku (an elected state senator equivalent) extended his full co-operation and promised matching grants upto 100% for the funds spent by the India Network Foundation. Also met with Honorable Sri Bolla Bulliramaiah, Minister for Commerce, Government of India who extended his support to India Network Foundation project and indicated that he would match every cent we spend on developmental projects in the district. The enthusiastic co-operation from political leadership, and administrators in West Godavari District is impressive and worthy of taking challenging projects in future.
Other political leaders met include Sri Aramilli Venkataratnam, Mandal President of Tanuku, (a section of the district), and Gannamani Narayana Rao, Mandal President of Undrajavaram, Member of Legislative Assembly from Tadepalligudem and several village level political leaders from both districts.
Most importantly, elementary school teachers in every village were very enthusiastic and opened their schools and classrooms for our visit. The state of primary education is pathetic. Many schools do not have a pacca place to hold classes and found several classes held in one room – grade 1 to 5 are held in one room often with one or two teachers. We were curious on how a lone teacher can teach grades 1 to 5 in one classroom. But these teachers are talented and interested in teaching children from mostly low socio-economic class families. The new trend seems to be the convents in every village that cater to the aspiring needs of middle class and upper middle class. This also contributed to the lack of public support to government and government aided schools. The private convent schools are often staffed with less qualified staff/teachers but were attractive for English medium instruction and their appearance of providing quality education.
Visit to Cyclone Warning Center, Visakhapatnam
Dr. Rao also visited the Cyclone Warning Center, located in Visakhapatnam and met director, Dr. Naidu. The discussions lasted for four hours and included a tour of the facilities and how the center help evacuate people from coastal districts during the cyclone period. The center has several 386 PCs and one 486 PC that keep track of weather systems. The fax equipment provided by the ECIL, India is outdated and does not function. The PCs have a RAM ranging from 4 to 8 MB and disk space ranging from 100 MB to 1 GB (for a recently acquired 486). It was thought that replacing the PCs with Pentium models and increasing their RAM and storage space would enhance the capabilities of the Cyclone Warning Center. Also software to analyze the data collected by Satellite on weather systems in that area would be of some help in predicting cyclone prone days/weeks during the season. Also held discussions with Assistant Director General of Meteorology department in New Delhi on the logistics involved in upgrading the center to be more effective in future. A sophisticated fax system would enable the center to fax the warning to various governmental and non-governmental agencies and save human time now involved in sending telegrams by Postal Department.
Dr. Rao sent a fax letter to Dr. Ashok Jain, Science Counselor at the Embassy of India, Washington, DC to seek government of India approval to provide new equipment to the Cyclone Warning Center in Visakhapatnam and we hope to receive clearance from the Ministry of Science and Technology soon.
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The India Network Foundation, Inc
(A Nonprofit charitable, and educational community Organization)
P.O. Box 556
Maumee, OH 43537, USA
Tel/Fax: 419.352 9335
(c) Copyright, 1997, India Network Foundation, Inc. No part of the report should be transmitted or published in electronic media or any other media without explicit written permission from the India Network Foundation Office.