Andaman Chronicle

The Daily Diary of the Islands

National conference of SSWB Chairpersons begins

All social welfare schemes are being implemented across the Islands effectively: LG

Port Blair, May 15: A two-day National level conference of Chairpersons of State Social Welfare Boards was organised by the Central Social Welfare Board (CSWB) in collaboration of the A&N State Social Welfare Board (A&NSSWB) at Megapode Nest here today. The Lt Governor, Lt Gen (Retd) Bhopinder Singh, PVSM, AVSM inaugurated the conference in the presence of the First Lady of the Islands, Smt Bhawanee Singh. Chairpersons of Social Welfare Boards of 26 States and Union Territories of the country are participating in this conference.

Addressing the gathering on the occasion, the Lt Governor expressed happiness that a National level conference is being organised in the Islands and added that the conference will come out with good suggestions on vital social issues which will benefit the country in general and our Islands as well. He further stated that all the Central Social Welfare Schemes are being implemented satisfactorily through the Social Welfare Department and the State Social Welfare Board across the Islands by reaching out to people living even in the remotest Islands. He had special words of appreciation for Smt Ratna Kannan, Chairperson, A&N SSWB for her deep understanding of the social problems of the Islands and her untiring efforts.

Giving a brief description of the Islands, he stated that the A&N Islands is the only place in the world where the most primitive aboriginal tribes and the modern civilization live side by side in a most cordial and peaceful environment within their own respective areas. Describing the Islands an example of “Unity in Diversity”, the Lt Governor stated that people from all religions and regions live here in perfect peace and harmony, speak one language i.e. Hindustani and celebrate all festivals with traditional gaiety and fervour. “Our islands have the greatest historical monument of the country’s freedom struggle-the Cellular Jail, which was at one time the abode of the freedom fighters whose unparalleled sacrifices brought us freedom from the colonial powers. These Islands are the most sacred place and not “Kalapani” as people used to call it. It is the most ‘pavitrapani’ of our country”, he stated.

Referring to the progress and development made by the Islands in the social sectors, he stated that the high literacy rate and good health index is an indicator that the Islands is doing well in the literacy and health sectors. The literacy rate of the Islands is 86.27% compared to the national figure of 74.04%.  The child sex ratio is 966 against the national average of 914. The infant mortality ratio is 19 per thousand live births which is much lower than the national figure of 44.  The maternal mortality ratio has been reduced to 35 per lakh in the Islands while the country’s ratio stands at 212. He further stated that all the social security schemes are being implemented to cover elderly persons, destitute women, widows and physically challenged in the most effective manner. The   Administration has decided to extend a monthly financial assistance of Rs.2000/- per month to the socially and economically weaker sections and the quantum of assistance may perhaps be the highest in the country, he stated. 

Describing alcoholism and suicides as the two social challenges of the Islands, he stated that the problem has emerged due to various social reasons.  However, the Administration is fully aware of these social challenges and has taken up many remedial measures to address them on priority, he stated.

In his address, the Chief Secretary, Shri Anand Prakash stated that the Social Welfare Board here has done remarkably well by implementing various social welfare schemes to provide benefits to the women and children and other sections of the society. As human development largely depends on the social welfare activities, the various welfare schemes implemented by the Board here will go a long way in the social development of the Islands, he said.

In her key note address, the Chairperson, Central Social Welfare Board, Smt Prema Cariappa stated that the National level conference have been organised to take stock of the achievements of the past years and to determine the further course of action keeping in mind the development that are taking places and new challenges that are emerging. This conference will provide opportunities to the participating Chairpersons of Social Welfare Boards of different States to share their experience and give suggestions for better implementation of the social welfare schemes. 

Earlier, welcoming the chief guest and others, the Chairperson, A&N State Social Welfare Board, Smt Ratna Kannan highlighted the activities of the A&N Social Welfare Board taken-up for the benefit and up-liftment of the weaker sections of the society, women and children in particular. The inaugural function concluded with a vote of thanks proposed by Shri S.K. Jha, Executive Director, CSEB, New Delhi.