Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Penetration of Online by Age Generation

The age penetration of the internet and the online behaviours by age reveals some interesting new developments.

A report by the Pew Research Centre's Kathryn Zickuhr revealed radical new developments in the online behaviours by age group, particularly the older generations with the fastest growth in the uptake of social network sites - for users aged 74 or older social network usage has quadrupled from 2008 to 2010 from 4% to 16%.

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Older Boomers (56-64 years) showed the biggest growth moving from 9% right up to 43%! One of the possible reasons is that social network sites allow users to reconnect with friends from the past, find supporting communities to deal with health problems or connect with younger generations. Same pattern with online video, overall it has moved from 52 to 66%, but Older Boomers moved from 30 to 55%.

Milliennials (those aged 18-33) remain the most active with 83% usage, and a segment of internet users more likely to access the internet wirelessly with a laptop or mobile phone.

However, internet users in Gen X (those aged 34-45) and older cohorts are more likely than Millennials to engage in several online activities (including government and financial websites). Another interesting area is the decline in blogging which for 12-17 year olds has moved from 28% to 14% from 2006 to 2009. The older generations however have increased their uptake.

The report by the Joan Ganz Cooney Centre at Sesame Workshop found 80% children aged 0 to 5 went online at least once a week, 25% of children aged 3 go online daily, increasing to 50% by 5, and 80% by 8 years old.

Children aged 5 to 9 average about 28 minutes online daily, children 8 to 10 spent about 46 minutes on a computer every day, including playing games online. Children begin to extend their media habits deeper into the digital realm at the ages of 7 to 9. The shift is evident in video game uptake. 50% play at 6, rising to 70% at 8. These observations make sense considering the developmental changes occurring in most children around ages 7 and 8. This is a period when children are honing their fine-motor skills and can more easily manipulate small keys, gadgets, and controllers.

Once children get to 7 and 8 years, they are able to focus on activities for longer stretches of time, and their memory, logical reasoning, and problem-solving skills sharpen. Children at this age can also apply their literacy skills to operate or communicate with digital media (e.g., via Internet searching or texting). Children at this age are also starting to form stronger, more complex relationships outside the family, especially with same-sex peers, and showing more concern about group acceptance.

Peer acceptance may be an important reason why music use jumps, as children look to share popular culture with their friends. And video games are a social context for many children, encouraging cooperation and competition. They also begin to need - and want - some alone time for activities that do not require parental support.

The Penetration of Online by Age Generation

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Monday, January 16, 2012

How Does Play Help Children's Development?

In this article I will introduce my personal definition of play, but acknowledge that play is basically indefinable because it is so vast and variable. I examine free flow play and the obstacles to play, and the purpose and value of play. I examine one small group of students working definition of play as a developmental tool that helps children develop holistically and other aspects of our definition, ie a developmental journey, play being accessible to all, and the aspect of fun and enjoyment in play. Alongside this, this article examines structured and unstructured play, including theorists views and I include some of my own observations and examine the play content in them.

Before I extend on group's definition of play, I would like to state my own theory about play, and explain what I mean stressing again, that play is basically indefinable because of its flexible and vast nature.

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My theory is that play is fluid. It can take many forms, have many meanings, express itself in many ways, but it cannot be contained in a box or shape and labelled as 'play'. If play is taken out of one context and into another it changes its shape and purpose, and the way it moves and performs. All of it is play in its many facets, and all of it is of equal value, because it meets the differing needs of the child at the time it is being played.

Play is fluid so therefore cannot be defined purely as one aspect or another, and as water is fluid, so is play - it changes its shape to its environment, circumstances and players, taking on different forms, expressions and meanings to the players concerned. It has intrinsic meaning to the children and may change direction at any moment, according to the children's needs and personality etc. Bruce verifies that play is like fluid and free-flowing,

She stated: "the whole point about play is that it cannot be pinned down. It flows. It is on the move." (Bruce 2004:154)

Free-flowing play can be limited by obstacles such as time, adults, relationships, routines, outcomes, interferences, circumstances, environment, or disability, and may not flow in the natural direction a child may wish to take it if limited by any of the above obstacles. However, because play is fluid, it can continue where it was left, or be restarted and flow in entirely different direction if obstacles do not restrict play.

Props may be used during free flow play which then takes on a symbolic characteristic, and children may engage in role play or socio-dramatic, plus rough and tumble, all rolled up into one, making it difficult to untangle and define! Children do not need adults to direct free-flow or fluid play, only to keep them safe from harming themselves or harming others. This may be viewed as an obstacle by children (and so it is) but as long as adults are not being 'over-protective' or 'over-restrictive' and children understand the need for safety rules (they tend to like rules in play anyway!) then the

obstacle or interruption is only a temporary obstacle, that children can overcome and move one, because their play is flexible and fluid.

The purpose or value of play, as mentioned is intrinsic to the child and players and appears to be part of children's developmental journey. Bruce (2004:149) describes play as a process with no productive end. Play helps children develop in a holistic way, developing their social interactions, language skills, co-operation, understanding of how the world works, and personal, social and emotional development. Play is a tool that brings knowledge and experiences together. Vygotsky viewed play as a vehicle (or tool) for social interaction. Bruner believed roleplay was a vehicle (or tool) for learning about society's rules and conventions. Piaget believed play unifies children's experiences, knowledge and experience. Frobel, Steiner, and Issacs were the biggest advocates of holistic development. Frobel believed learning and development is holistic, involving the child, other adults and the environment, and that childhood is a stage in it's own right. Steiner based his principles on Frobels and developed a programme involving

play. Issacs believed play was central to the overall development of the child.

Play is as an important of children's developmental journey - it becomes a tool by which children learn to develop in a holistic manner, it enables them to understand themselves, other people, their community and the world around them. Play also enables children to act out experiences, past and present, and enter into fantasy worlds. Bruner believed that play is process-led rather than task orientated, but also believed it prepares children for adulthood. (Fisher 1996:97) We are all on a lifelong journey and the journey, and the journey for me may be different to your journey. We may start at the same place, but go in different directions, and we may meet again but be different people, because life (and play, as part of that process) shapes the people and character we become. The journey of developing and learning is a long, slow, and ongoing process throughout life - a developmental journey which starts at birth and finishes at death, and play in its many fluid forms, becomes part of the process.

If play is structured, directed or initiated by adults, play takes on a different role. If play has a goal, target or outcome for a child to achieve, often children do not view this type of play as play, but as work.... they view

work as teacher-directed and play as choice, sitting down as working, and being active as playing (Wood & Attfield, 2005:17). However, a divide between play and work cannot easily be made. Children learn in and through play, whether it is teacher initiated or child initiated. Frobel, Steiner, Issacs, Piaget believed play should not be directed. Miss Boyce believed in a mixed approach, including free flow play and a more structured timetable for teacher-directed sessions. Montessori, demonstrated skills to children and did not believe in freeplay. Brunner saw play as a process but also believed adults need to scaffold children's experiences in order to help them progress to the next stage, as did Vygotsky, who advocated adults working alongside children to build on / scaffold their understanding to move them onto the next stage. McMillian also believed in a structured environment that was planned to support children's needs, and which integrated subjects such as maths, science and literacy.

Whether play is adult led or child led, children will learn many skills through play such as; co-operation, negotiation, other people's views, social skills, language skills, fine and gross motor skills may improve and other skills may

be mastered, thinking and cognitive skills are used and improved, so therefore children will learn through play whether there is an intended outcome or not! My own observations of children's play confirmed this. Children learned through many different types of play, structured and unstructured. Structured play helped children develop more in the cognitive realm whereas unstructured play helped children develop more in the creative, language, physical and personal/social realm.

If they do meet the outcomes (which they should do if the resources, processes and intensions are aimed at the right level...) then this is an added bonus! If planned and resourced correctly by practitioners, play can help children meet targets within the Foundation Stage or Key stage 1, covering all aspects of the curriculum from Personal, social and emotional development through to creative development.

Adults can improve the quality of children's play by providing a rich variety of resources, and well planned structured play, indoors and out, needs sensitive scaffolding for children to progress or learn new skills and knowledge. Adults also need to provide plenty of free flow play, and time

to complete tasks. If adults aim to intervene as little as possible in free play, this will provide a better outcome for children.

In structured play the teacher/adult has used play as a 'tool' (others call it a vehicle or medium) but may not be viewed as play in its purest form. Play cannot be categorized into 'play' or 'not play' (because play is fluid and takes many forms) but may be better defined as 'more pure play' or 'less pure play'' (Wood & Attfield 2005:4-5) Wood and Attfield further define pure play as unstructured, active, fun, a process, pretend, child invented and child-choosen. Linden states, "Circumstances can prevent or restrict play. Constraints may be placed by adults or the environment limits children's experiences. Alternatively, developmental problems, disability or illness can shape the possibilities for children." Play may be hampered (children may have obstacles to play) if they have any form of disability or cultural, language, social or economic differences. Children (like adults) tend to be exclusive, uncertain about things or people they don't understand or are not like them, unless they are informed/educated that all children have an equal right to play and should be granted access and opportunities to play.

Children need adults to be good role models demonstrating equality by provision and adaptability to children's needs. Children need adults to provide different types of play or different ways of playing, so that children can access it. Some children may need more adult support to access play, especially if there is some form of disability or complex needs. These children may access play differently, but all children have the same right to develop in a holistic way that all children do. All children need the 'tool' of play for their own development; because play is fluid, the way the tool is used may be different.

I observed a young boy (of about 8 years old) and other children aged between 6-10 years in a social club setting. All the children, except the little boy of 8, were engaged in locomotive play. They were chasing, tickling, rolling, dancing etc throughout the night, mainly in small groups of children. The play looked chaotic but was not out of place in the setting. The adults observed this play and did not intervene. The children appeared

to have no purpose or intension but to enjoy themselves, and the value to them was in participating in the fun, making up games and dances, enjoying social activities together and passing time in an enjoyable way.

The other little boy of 8 however, did not join in any of the play, he merely acknowledged the other children. Instead of playing with the other children, this little boy stood in front of the band that was performing, and appeared to be conducting them (using a toy), virtually all night. He was engrossed in his play/work. Later on when the band had a break, he circled around the

hall floor, (walking on his toes) making 'car-like' movements. At this point the boy may have been involved in role play. However, his first play was very difficult to understand (possibly role play or practice play?) This little boy appeared to have special needs along the line of Asperger's syndrome (noted from previous study and personal experience) I suspected Asperger's syndrome because he did not communicate with the other children, contact them, play alongside them, or join in their play. When they came near him once during locomotive play, he visible repelled / moved himself clearly out of their way. He couldn't or didn't access any type of social, co-operative or

parallel play, but preferred his own solitary activity and the type of play he engaged in was repetitive. Although his play didn't make sense to me, it was meaningful to him. He appeared to believe he was truly directing the band (though they ignored him and continued their performance) however he was engrossed in roleplay or practice play and appeared to enjoy what he was doing. His play was intrinsically valuable to him and he had as much right to play in this way as the other children had to play in their way. Linden Stated "Play stems from children's own perception of the world and how it works... play is a very personal, creative activity... within children's understanding, their play is meaningful in it connection to non-play reality. (2000:43).

I also observed other types of play in other settings with younger children. The type of play I observed included socio-dramatic (2-3 year olds involved in playing with dolls, prams and accessories, going shopping etc); exploratory play (2-3 year olds exploring playdough and cutters, moulding, shaping, cutting etc); creative play - free painting, mixing paints, making patterns and pictures and epistemic play (2-6 year olds involved in table top games,

including sounds game, snakes & ladders and alphabet jigsaw). The learning processes during these observations was vast, from social skills, co-operation and concentration to language skills, physical skills, fine motor skills, mathematic skills, creative skills to cognitive skills, being used, extended and enhanced in play to the benefit of the child/ren concerned.

Play however, is not just a tool that enables development, play in itself is fun and has value in itself. Play is as valuable to the child as work is to adults. Fisher (96:103) stated "Play has its own intrinsic rewards, it is done spontaneously and voluntary and it is thoroughly enjoyable." If play is self-chosen, self-motivated and directed, then it can only be enjoyable. Theorists such as Lazarus and Garvey hold this view; indeed children would not engage in play so readily if it were not so! Linden (2001:44) stated, "children play for play's sake. The activity is an end in itself and is not undertaken for an end product."

Conclusion

In this article I have stated my theory of play as being fluid, and other aspects or definitions of play and its value in children's development. Included in this are some theorist's views of play, and observations of children's play and what they are gaining from it, noting however, that defining play in all its elements, is very difficult! Play has many facets and functions it is impossible for one or two statements to adequately state what play is or does and many theorists hold differing views, reflecting this difficulty.

Play has become a tool in the Early Years sector and education and it is key to understanding how children think and feel. It has become clearer to me that play is crucial to children's social and emotional development, and other aspects such as language skills, cognitive skills and understanding the world in which they live. It has also become clearer to me that the least amount of time adults intervene in children's play, the better! (Though of course there is a time when structured play is appropriate). Play is enjoyable and motivating and a tool that develops children holistically and plays is fluid in that it fulfils many different roles that aids children in their developmental journey.

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How Does Play Help Children's Development?

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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Banking Fraud - Prevention and Control

Banking Fraud is posing threat to Indian Economy. Its vibrant effect can be understood be the fact that in the year 2004 number of Cyber Crime were 347 in India which rose to 481 in 2005 showing an increase of 38.5% while I.P.C. category crime stood at 302 in 2005 including 186 cases of cyber fraud and 68 cases cyber forgery. Thus it becomes very important that occurrence of such frauds should be minimized. More upsetting is the fact that such frauds are entering in Banking Sector as well.

In the present day, Global Scenario Banking System has acquired new dimensions. Banking did spread in India. Today, the banking system has entered into competitive markets in areas covering resource mobilization, human resource development, customer services and credit management as well.

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Indian's banking system has several outstanding achievements to its credit, the most striking of which is its reach. In fact, Indian banks are now spread out into the remotest areas of our country. Indian banking, which was operating in a highly comfortable and protected environment till the beginning of 1990s, has been pushed into the choppy waters of intense competition.

A sound banking system should possess three basic characteristics to protect depositor's interest and public faith. Theses are (i) a fraud free culture, (ii) a time tested Best Practice Code, and (iii) an in house immediate grievance remedial system. All these conditions are their missing or extremely weak in India. Section 5(b) of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949 defines banking... "Banking is the accepting for the purpose of lending or investment, deposits of money from the purpose of lending or investment, deposits of money from the public, repayable on demand or otherwise and withdraw able by cheque, draft, order or otherwise." But if his money has fraudulently been drawn from the bank the latter is under strict obligation to pay the depositor. The bank therefore has to ensure at all times that the money of the depositors is not drawn fraudulently. Time has come when the security aspects of the banks have to be dealt with on priority basis.

The banking system in our country has been taking care of all segments of our socio-economic set up. The Article contains a discussion on the rise of banking frauds and various methods that can be used to avoid such frauds. A bank fraud is a deliberate act of omission or commission by any person carried out in the course of banking transactions or in the books of accounts, resulting in wrongful gain to any person for a temporary period or otherwise, with or without any monetary loss to the bank. The relevant provisions of Indian Penal Code, Criminal Procedure Code, Indian Contract Act, and Negotiable Instruments Act relating to banking frauds has been cited in the present Article.

EVOLUTION OF BANKING SYSTEM IN INDIA

Banking system occupies an important place in a nation's economy. A banking institution is indispensable in a modern society. It plays a pivotal role in economic development of a country and forms the core of the money market in an advanced country.

Banking industry in India has traversed a long way to assume its present stature. It has undergone a major structural transformation after the nationalization of 14 major commercial banks in 1969 and 6 more on 15 April 1980. The Indian banking system is unique and perhaps has no parallels in the banking history of any country in the world.

RESERVE BANK OF INDIA-ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL OBJECTIVE

The Reserve Bank of India has an important role to play in the maintenance of the exchange value of the rupee in view of the close interdependence of international trade and national economic growth and well being. This aspect is of the wider responsibly of the central bank for the maintenance of economic and financial stability. For this the bank is entrusted with the custody and the management of country's international reserves; it acts also as the agent of the government in respect of India's membership of the international monetary fund. With economic development the bank also performs a variety of developmental and promotional functions which in the past were registered being outside the normal purview of central banking. It also acts an important regulator.

BANK FRAUDS: CONCEPT AND DIMENSIONS

Banks are the engines that drive the operations in the financial sector, which is vital for the economy. With the nationalization of banks in 1969, they also have emerged as engines for social change. After Independence, the banks have passed through three stages. They have moved from the character based lending to ideology based lending to today competitiveness based lending in the context of India's economic liberalization policies and the process of linking with the global economy.

While the operations of the bank have become increasingly significant banking frauds in banks are also increasing and fraudsters are becoming more and more sophisticated and ingenious. In a bid to keep pace with the changing times, the banking sector has diversified it business manifold. And the old philosophy of class banking has been replaced by mass banking. The challenge in management of social responsibility with economic viability has increased.

DEFINITION OF FRAUD

Fraud is defined as "any behavior by which one person intends to gain a dishonest advantage over another". In other words , fraud is an act or omission which is intended to cause wrongful gain to one person and wrongful loss to the other, either by way of concealment of facts or otherwise.

Fraud is defined u/s 421 of the Indian Penal Code and u/s 17 of the Indian Contract Act. Thus essential elements of frauds are:

1. There must be a representation and assertion;

2. It must relate to a fact;

3. It must be with the knowledge that it is false or without belief in its truth; and

4. It must induce another to act upon the assertion in question or to do or not to do certain act.

BANK FRAUDS

Losses sustained by banks as a result of frauds exceed the losses due to robbery, dacoity, burglary and theft-all put together. Unauthorized credit facilities are extended for illegal gratification such as case credit allowed against pledge of goods, hypothecation of goods against bills or against book debts. Common modus operandi are, pledging of spurious goods, inletting the value of goods, hypothecating goods to more than one bank, fraudulent removal of goods with the knowledge and connivance of in negligence of bank staff, pledging of goods belonging to a third party. Goods hypothecated to a bank are found to contain obsolete stocks packed in between goods stocks and case of shortage in weight is not uncommon.

An analysis made of cases brings out broadly the under mentioned four major elements responsible for the commission of frauds in banks.

1. Active involvement of the staff-both supervisor and clerical either independent of external elements or in connivance with outsiders.

2. Failure on the part of the bank staff to follow meticulously laid down instructions and guidelines.

3. External elements perpetuating frauds on banks by forgeries or manipulations of cheques, drafts and other instruments.

4. There has been a growing collusion between business, top banks executives, civil servants and politicians in power to defraud the banks, by getting the rules bent, regulations flouted and banking norms thrown to the winds.

FRAUDS-PREVENTION AND DETECTION

A close study of any fraud in bank reveals many common basic features. There may have been negligence or dishonesty at some stage, on part of one or more of the bank employees. One of them may have colluded with the borrower. The bank official may have been putting up with the borrower's sharp practices for a personal gain. The proper care which was expected of the staff, as custodians of banks interest may not have been taken. The bank's rules and procedures laid down in the Manual instructions and the circulars may not have been observed or may have been deliberately ignored.

Bank frauds are the failure of the banker. It does not mean that the external frauds do not defraud banks. But if the banker is upright and knows his job, the task of defrauder will become extremely difficult, if not possible.

Detection of Frauds

Despite all care and vigilance there may still be some frauds, though their number, periodicity and intensity may be considerably reduced. The following procedure would be very helpful if taken into consideration:

1. All relevant data-papers, documents etc. Should be promptly collected. Original vouchers or other papers forming the basis of the investigation should be kept under lock and key.

2. All persons in the bank who may be knowing something about the time, place a modus operandi of the fraud should be examined and their statements should be recorded.

3. The probable order of events should thereafter be reconstructed by the officer, in his own mind.

4. It is advisable to keep the central office informed about the fraud and further developments in regard thereto.

Classification of Frauds and Action Required by Banks

The Reserve Bank of India had set-up a high level committee in 1992 which was headed by Mr. A... Ghosh, the then Dy. Governor Reserve Bank of India to inquire into various aspects relating to frauds malpractice in banks. The committee had noticed/observed three major causes for perpetration of fraud as given hereunder:

1. Laxity in observance of the laid down system and procedures by operational and supervising staff.

2. Over confidence reposed in the clients who indulged in breach of trust.

3. Unscrupulous clients by taking advantages of the laxity in observance of established, time tested safeguards also committed frauds.

In order to have uniformity in reporting cases of frauds, RBI considered the question of classification of bank frauds on the basis of the provisions of the IPC.
Given below are the Provisions and their Remedial measures that can be taken.

1. Cheating (Section 415, IPC)

Remedial Measures.

The preventive measures in respect of the cheating can be concentrated on cross-checking regarding identity, genuineness, verification of particulars, etc. in respect of various instruments as well as persons involved in encashment or dealing with the property of the bank.

2. Criminal misappropriation of property (Section 403 IPC).

Remedial Measure

Criminal misappropriation of property, presuppose the custody or control of funds or property, so subjected, with that of the person committing such frauds. Preventive measures, for this class of fraud should be taken at the level the custody or control of the funds or property of the bank generally vests. Such a measure should be sufficient, it is extended to these persons who are actually handling or having actual custody or control of the fund or movable properties of the bank.

3. Criminal breach of trust (Section 405, IPC)

Remedial Measure

Care should be taken from the initial step when a person comes to the bank. Care needs to be taken at the time of recruitment in bank as well.

4. Forgery (Section 463, IPC)

Remedial Measure

Both the prevention and detection of frauds through forgery are important for a bank. Forgery of signatures is the most frequent fraud in banking business. The bank should take special care when the instrument has been presented either bearer or order; in case a bank pays forged instrument he would be liable for the loss to the genuine costumer.

5. Falsification of accounts (Section 477A)

Remedial Measure

Proper diligence is required while filling of forms and accounts. The accounts should be rechecked on daily basis.

6. Theft (Section 378, IPC)

Remedial Measures

Encashment of stolen' cheque can be prevented if the bank clearly specify the age, sex and two visible identify action marks on the body of the person traveler's cheques on the back of the cheque leaf. This will help the paying bank to easily identify the cheque holder. Theft from lockers and safe deposit vaults are not easy to commit because the master-key remains with the banker and the individual key of the locker is handed over to the costumer with due acknowledgement.

7. Criminal conspiracy (Section 120 A, IPC)

In the case of State of Andhra Pradesh v. IBS Prasad Rao and Other, the accused, who were clerks in a cooperative Central Bank were all convicted of the offences of cheating under Section 420 read along with Section 120 A. all the four accused had conspired together to defraud the bank by making false demand drafts and receipt vouchers.

8. Offences relating to currency notes and banks notes (Section 489 A-489E, IPC)
These sections provide for the protection of currency-notes and bank notes from forgery. The offences under section are:

(a) Counterfeiting currency notes or banks.

(b) Selling, buying or using as genuine, forged or counterfeit currency notes or bank notes. Knowing the same to be forged or counterfeit.

(c) Possession of forged or counterfeit currency notes or bank-notes, knowing or counterfeit and intending to use the same as genuine.

(d) Making or passing instruments or materials for forging or counterfeiting currency notes or banks.

(e) Making or using documents resembling currency-notes or bank notes.

Most of the above provisions are Cognizable Offences under Section 2(c) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

FRAUD PRONE AREAS IN DIFFERENT ACCOUNTS

The following are the potential fraud prone areas in Banking Sector. In addition to those areas I have also given kinds of fraud that are common in these areas.

Savings Bank Accounts

The following are some of the examples being played in respect of savings bank accounts:

(a) Cheques bearing the forged signatures of depositors may be presented and paid.

(b) Specimen signatures of the depositors may be changed, particularly after the death of depositors,

(c) Dormant accounts may be operated by dishonest persons with or without collusion of bank employees, and

(d) Unauthorized withdrawals from customer's accounts by employee of the bank maintaining the savings ledger and later destruction of the recent vouchers by them.

Current Account Fraud

The following types are likely to be committed in case of current accounts.

(a) Opening of frauds in the names of limited companies or firms by unauthorized persons;

(b) Presentation and payment of cheques bearing forged signatures;

(c) Breach of trust by the employees of the companies or firms possessing cheque leaves duly signed by the authorized signatures;

(d) Fraudulent alteration of the amount of the cheques and getting it paid either at the counter or though another bank.

Frauds In Case Of Advances

Following types may be committed in respect of advances:

(a) Spurious gold ornaments may be pledged.

(b) Sub-standard goods may be pledged with the bank or their value may be shown at inflated figures.
(c) Same goods may be hypothecated in favour of different banks.

LEGAL REGIME TO CONTROL BANK FRAUDS

Frauds constitute white-collar crime, committed by unscrupulous persons deftly advantage of loopholes existing in systems/procedures. The ideal situation is one there is no fraud, but taking ground realities of the nation's environment and human nature's fragility, an institution should always like to keep the overreach of frauds at the minimum occurrence level.

Following are the relevant sections relating to Bank Frauds

Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860)

(a) Section 23 "Wrongful gain".-

"Wrongful gain" is gain by unlawful means of property to which the person gaining is not legally entitled.

(b) "Wrongful loss"

"Wrongful loss" is the loss by unlawful means of property to which the person losing it is legally entitled.
(c) Gaining wrongfully.

Losing wrongfully-A person is said to gain wrongfully when such person retains wrongfully, as well as when such person acquires wrongfully. A person is said to lose wrongfully when such person is wrongfully kept out of any property, as well as when such person is wrongfully deprived of property.

(d) Section 24. "Dishonestly"

Whoever does anything with the intention of causing wrongful gain to one person or wrongful loss to another person, is said to do that thing "dishonestly".

(e) Section 28. "Counterfeit"

A person is said to "counterfeit" who causes one thing to resemble another thing, intending by means of that resemblance to practice deception, or knowing it to be likely that deception will thereby be practiced.

BREACH OF TRUST

1. Section 408- Criminal breach of trust by clerk or servant.

2. Section 409- Criminal breach of trust by public servant, or by banker, merchant or agent.

3. Section 416- Cheating by personating

4. Section 419- Punishment for cheating by personation.

OFFENCES RELATING TO DOCMENTS

1) Section 463-Forgery

2) Section 464 -Making a false document

3) Section 465- Punishment for forgery.

4) Section 467- Forgery of valuable security, will, etc

5) Section 468- Forgery for purpose of cheating

6) Section 469- Forgery for purpose of harming reputation

7) Section 470- Forged document.

8) Section 471- Using as genuine a forged document

9) Section 477- Fraudulent cancellation, destruction, etc., of will, authority to adopt, or valuable security.

10) Section 477A- Falsification of accounts.

THE RESERVE BANK OF INDIA ACT, 1934

Issue of demand bills and notes Section 31.

Provides that only Bank and except provided by Central Government shall be authorized to draw, accept, make or issue any bill of exchange, hundi, promissory note or engagement for the payment of money payable to bearer on demand, or borrow, owe or take up any sum or sums of money on the bills, hundis or notes payable to bearer on demand of any such person

THE NEGOTIABLE INSTRUMENTS ACT, 1881

Holder's right to duplicate of lost bill Section 45A.

1. The finder of lost bill or note acquires no title to it. The title remains with the true owner. He is entitled to recover from the true owner.

2. If the finder obtains payment on a lost bill or note in due course, the payee may be able to get a valid discharge for it. But the true owner can recover the money due on the instrument as damages from the finder.

Section 58

When an Instrument is obtained by unlawful means or for unlawful consideration no possessor or indorse who claims through the person who found or so obtained the instrument is entitled to receive the amount due thereon from such maker, acceptor or holder, or from any party prior to such holder, unless such possessor or indorse is, or some person through whom he claims was, a holder thereof in due course.

Section 85:

Cheque payable to order.

1. By this section, bankers are placed in privileged position. It provides that if an order cheque is indorsed by or on behalf of the payee, and the banker on whom it is drawn pays it in due course, the banker is discharged. He can debit his customer with the amount so paid, though the endorsement of the payee might turn out to be a forgery.

2. The claim protection under this section the banker has to prove that the payment was a payment in due course, in good faith and without negligence.

Section 87. Effect of material alteration

Under this section any alteration made without the consent of party would be void. Alteration would be valid only if is made with common intention of the party.

Section 138. Dishonour of cheque for insufficiency, etc., of funds in the account.

Where any cheque drawn by a person on an account maintained by him with a banker for payment of any amount of money to another person from out of that account for the discharge, in whole or in part, of any debt or other liability, is returned by the bank unpaid. either because of the amount of money standing to the credit of that account is insufficient to honour the cheque or that it exceeds the amount arranged to be paid from that account by an agreement made with that bank, such person shall be deemed to have committed an offence and shall, without prejudice.

Section 141(1) Offences by companies.

If the person committing an offence under Section 138 is a company, every person who, at the time the offence was committed, was in charge of, and was responsible to, the company for the conduct of the business of the company, as well as the company, shall be deemed to be guilty of the offence and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly.

SECURITY REGIME IN BANKING SYSTEM

Security implies sense of safety and of freedom from danger or anxiety. When a banker takes a collateral security, say in the form of gold or a title deed, against the money lent by him, he has a sense of safety and of freedom from anxiety about the possible non-payment of the loan by the borrower. These should be communicated to all strata of the organization through appropriate means. Before staff managers should analyze current practices. Security procedure should be stated explicitly and agreed upon by each user in the specific environment. Such practices ensure information security and enhance availability. Bank security is essentially a defense against unforced attacks by thieves, dacoits and burglars.

PHYSICAL SECURITY MEASURES-CONCEPT

A large part of banks security depends on social security measures. Physical security measures can be defined as those specific and special protective or defensive measures adopted to deter, detect, delay, defend and defeat or to perform any one or more of these functions against culpable acts, both covert and covert and acclamations natural events. The protective or defensive, measures adopted involve construction, installation and deployment of structures, equipment and persons respectively.

The following are few guidelines to check malpractices:

1. To rotate the cash work within the staff.

2. One person should not continue on the same seat for more than two months.

3. Daybook should not be written by the Cashier where an other person is available to the job

4. No cash withdrawal should be allowed within passbook in case of withdrawal by pay order.

5. The branch manager should ensure that all staff members have recorder their presence in the attendance registrar, before starting work.

Execution of Documents

1. A bank officer must adopt a strict professional approach in the execution of documents. The ink and the pen used for the execution must be maintained uniformly.

2. Bank documents should not be typed on a typewriter for execution. These should be invariably handwritten for execution.

3. The execution should always be done in the presence of the officer responsible for obtain them,
4. The borrowers should be asked to sign in full signatures in same style throughout the documents.

5. Unless there is a specific requirement in the document, it should not be got attested or witnessed as such attestation may change the character of the instruments and the documents may subject to ad volrem stamp duty.

6. The paper on which the bank documents are made should be pilfer proof. It should be unique and available to the banks only.

7. The printing of the bank documents should have highly artistic intricate and complex graphics.

8. The documents executed between Banker and Borrowers must be kept in safe custody,

CHANGES IN LEGISLATIONS AFTER ELECTRONIC TRANSACTIONS

1. Section 91 of IPC shall be amended to include electronic documents also.

2. Section 92 of Indian Evidence Act, 1872 shall be amended to include commuter based communications

3. Section 93 of Bankers Book Evidence Act, 1891 has been amended to give legal sanctity for books of account maintained in the electronic form by the banks.

4. Section 94 of the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1939 shall be amended to facilitate electronic fund transfers between the financial institutions and the banks. A new clause (pp) has been inserted in Section 58(2).

RECENT TRENDS OF BANKING SYSTEM IN INDIA

In the banking and financial sectors, the introduction of electronic technology for transactions, settlement of accounts, book-keeping and all other related functions is now an imperative. Increasingly, whether we like it or not, all banking transactions are going to be electronic. The thrust is on commercially important centers, which account for 65 percent of banking business in terms of value. There are now a large number of fully computerized branches across the country.

A switchover from cash-based transactions to paper-based transactions is being accelerated. Magnetic Ink character recognition clearing of cheques is now operational in many cities, beside the four metro cities. In India, the design, management and regulation of electronically-based payments system are becoming the focus of policy deliberations. The imperatives of developing an effective, efficient and speedy payment and settlement systems are getting sharper with introduction of new instruments such as credit cards, telebanking, ATMs, retail Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) and Electronic Clearing Services (ECS). We are moving towards smart cards, credit and financial Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) for straight through processing.

Financial Fraud (Investigation, Prosecution, Recovery and Restoration of property) Bill, 2001

Further the Financial Fraud (Investigation, Prosecution, Recovery and Restoration of property) Bill, 2001 was introduced in Parliament to curb the menace of Bank Fraud. The Act was to prohibit, control, investigate financial frauds; recover and restore properties subject to such fraud; prosecute for causing financial fraud and matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

Under the said act the term Financial Fraud has been defined as under:

Section 512 - Financial Fraud

Financial frauds means and includes any of the following acts committed by a person or with his connivance, or by his agent, in his dealings with any bank or financial institution or any other entity holding public funds;

1. The suggestion, as a fact, of that which is not true, by one who does not believe it to be true;

2. The active concealment of a fact by one having knowledge or belief of the fact;

3. A promise made with out any intention of performing it;

4. Any other act fitted to deceive;

5. Any such act or omission as the law specially declares to be fraudulent.
Provided that whoever acquires, possesses or transfers any proceeds of financial fraud or enters into any transaction which is related to proceeds of fraud either directly or indirectly or conceals or aids in the concealment of the proceeds of financial fraud, commits financial fraud.

513(a) - Punishment for Financial Fraud

Whoever commits financial fraud shall be: (a) Punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term, which may extend to seven years and shall also be liable to fine.

(b)Whoever commits serious financial fraud shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to ten years but shall not be less than five years and shall also be liable for fine up to double the amount involved in such fraud.

Provided that in both (a) and (b) all funds, bank accounts and properties acquired using such funds subjected to the financial fraud as may reasonably be attributed by the investigating agency shall be recovered and restored to the rightful owner according to the procedure established by law.

CONCLUSION

The Indian Banking Industry has undergone tremendous growth since nationalization of 14 banks in the year 1969. There has an almost eight times increase in the bank branches from about 8000 during 1969 to mote than 60,000 belonging to 289 commercial banks, of which 66 banks are in private sector.

It was the result of two successive Committees on Computerization (Rangarajan Committee) that set the tone for computerization in India. While the first committee drew the blue print in 1983-84 for the mechanization and computerization in banking industry, the second committee set up in 1989 paved the way for integrated use of telecommunications and computers for applying technogical breakthroughs in banking sector.

However, with the spread of banking and banks, frauds have been on a constant increase. It could be a natural corollary to increase in the number of customers who are using banks these days. In the year 2000 alone we have lost Rs 673 crores in as many as 3,072 number of fraud cases. These are only reported figures. Though, this is 0.075% of Rs 8,96,696 crores of total deposits and 0.15% of Rs 4,44,125 crores of loans & advances, there are any numbers of cases that are not reported. There were nearly 65,800 bank branches of a total of 295 commercial banks in India as on June 30, 2001 reporting a total of nearly 3,072 bank fraud cases. This makes nearly 10.4 frauds per bank and roughly 0.47 frauds per branch.

An Expert Committee on Bank Frauds (Chairman: Dr.N.L.Mitra) submitted its Report to RBI in September 2001. The Committee examined and suggested both the preventive and curative aspects of bank frauds.

The important recommendations of the Committee include:

o A need for including financial fraud as a criminal offence;

o Amendments to the IPC by including a new chapter on financial fraud;

o Amendments to the Evidence Act to shift the burden of proof on the accused person;

o Special provision in the Cr. PC for properties involved in the Financial Fraud.

o Confiscating unlawful gains; and preventive measures including the development of Best Code Procedures by banks and financial institutions.

Thus it can be concluded that following measures should necessarily be adopted by the Ministry of Finance in order to reduce cases of Fraud.

o There must be a Special Court to try financial fraud cases of serious nature.

o The law should provide separate structural and recovery procedure. Every bank must have a domestic enquiry officer to enquire about the civil dimension of fraud.

o A fraud involving an amount of ten crore of rupees and above may be considered serious and be tried in the Special Court.

The Twenty-ninth Report of the Law Commission had dealt some categories of crimes one of which is "offences calculated to prevent and obstruct the economic development of the country and endanger its economic health." Offences relating to Banking Fraud will fall under this category. The most important feature of such offences is that ordinarily they do not involve an individual direct victim. They are punishable because they harm the whole society. It is clear that money involved in Bank belongs to public. They deposit there whole life' security in Banks and in case of Dacoity or Robbery in banks the public will be al lost. Thus it is important that sufficient efforts should be taken in this regard.

There exists a new kind of threat in cyber world. Writers are referring it as "Salami Attack" under this a special software is used for transferring the amount from the account of the individual. Hence the culprits of such crimes should be found quickly and should be given strict punishment. Moreover there is requirement of more number of IT professionals who will help in finding a solution against all these security threats.

Banking Fraud - Prevention and Control

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

What is the Total Unfunded Liability of the US Government?

One of the top political topics of 2009 was the health care reform plan which is still being worked on by Congress. Because of the vociferous debate about the plan, US citizens have probably become much more knowledgeable about the amount of debt that the US government owes. A great deal of that debt is held by countries such as China and that fact too has captured the public's attention.

But, there is another type of debt that isn't talked about as frequently. I am referring to what is called unfunded liabilities. In essence, the US government has made promises to pay monies today and in the future to it's citizens. We are talking about Social Security and Medicare.

Health Literacy

The government raises funds for these expenditures from various taxes and then uses the money to fund the program. These programs are considered unfunded liabilities because, projecting out in the future, the revenues from the taxes will not be able to fund the projected expenditures. The numbers are actually quite staggering. The Social Security unfunded liability is projected to be 17.5 trillion dollars.

The Medicare unfunded liability is actually projected to be much higher. Medicare actually has parts A, B, and D, Part A funds hospital care. Part B funds Medical visits, and part D funds prescription drugs. The part A unfunded liability is estimated at 36 trillion dollars, part B at 37 trillion dollars, and part D at 15 trillion dollars.

The total amount of the unfunded liability comes out to just over 100 trillion dollars, or approximately , 000 for every man, woman, and child in the country. And since the private net worth of all Americans together is estimated at just over trillion dollars by the Federal Reserve, you can see the problem.

The reason that many are concerned is that the only 2 ways to rectify the situation is either to markedly raise taxes or cut the promised benefits. Since, most analysts feel that it is politically very difficult to cut promised benefits, most foresee significant tax raises in the future. There are some analysts who are much more sanguine about the problem arguing that there are so many assumptions built into these analyses that they could be significantly inaccurate.

What is the Total Unfunded Liability of the US Government?

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Monday, January 9, 2012

Autism and Instruction Methods That Work Best in School

Autism and instruction strategies in children must be individualized in order to gain the greatest degree of success. Children with autism frequently struggle to learn at the same rate as non-autistic children, and therefore very specific modifications must be made for autism and instruction methods to cater to the autistic children's unique needs.

The following list includes autism instruction strategies that have been known to help autistic children in the classroom. These are only broad descriptions as any practiced strategies must be child-specific, depending on the individual's needs, symptoms, and strengths.

Health Literacy

1. Autistic children tend to be visual learners. Therefore, a visual structure to the overall learning environment should be carefully designed in order to allow the child to clearly see and comprehend expectations of him or her. This should include clearly defined workstations and other basic elements of the classroom. Visual schedules are also an important part of the classroom's visual structure, as they allow the autistic child to benefit from a predictable routine where the expectations are laid out specifically in a visual way. This minimizes unexpected occurrences and allows students to anticipate and prepare for transitions in their day.

2. Stimulation in the classroom - especially visual and auditory - should be carefully considered and controlled, whenever possible. Many autistic students can be easily over-stimulated by visual and auditory input and may have a challenging time processing their lessons should they be distracted or overwhelmed by sounds, lights, or images that cannot be properly managed. Workstations should be set away from any excessive auditory and visual stimulation (especially sounds, movements, and any flickering or bright lights) to allow for optimal concentration and learning.

3. Many autistic children struggle with - or have yet to develop - communication skills, especially with regards to expressive communication skills. Instruction for non-verbal students may also be required. An augmentative communication system (methods or devices to aid communication) can be greatly beneficial to autistic students of all communication levels. This could include strategies such as PECS (picture exchange communication system), where picture cards are used to express words for objects, feelings, concepts, places, and other areas where words would typically be helpful.

4. Instruction of social skills has typically been among the more challenging aspects of the curriculum. Overall, it is best to teach social skills very directly. Autistic students will not normally develop social skills through simple interaction within social environments. Instead, they must learn their social interaction skills in the same way that other academic topics and skills are taught.

5. A high priority should be placed on instruction of literacy. The reason for this is that many autistic students often depend on one form of communication for another, even if they are capable of communicating verbally. Frequently, a kind of back-up form of expressive communication is required especially for when the child is feeling upset or overwhelmed. Though PECS is effective, with literacy in the student, communication - even non-verbal communication - can occur at a might higher level, as it opens up a greater vocabulary for expression.

Autism and instruction strategies are exceptionally unique. Before beginning to work with an autistic child, it is important to be aware of the individual needs of that child, and the characteristics of autism exhibited by that child. Instructors and other school staff working with the child should be provided with training about at least the basic features of autism. Every member of the team working with the child should understand the child's needs as well as teaching strategies such as those listed above, so that they may maximize the child's potential for successful learning.

Autism and Instruction Methods That Work Best in School

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Sunday, January 8, 2012

India Poverty

Poverty in India is a major economic hurdle in the country's progress. India is estimated to have a third of the world's poor. An alarming 42% of the Indians are said to be living below the international poverty line of .25 a day. India is said to have the largest number of poor as a single country.

The chief causes for this poverty in India are ascribed to the factors of exploitation under British rule, massive population exploitation and hence population burden, unequal distribution of income, casteism, and low literacy rate. The rural population of India mainly suffers from malnutrition, illiteracy, diseases and long-term health problems apart from unhygienic living conditions, lack of proper housing and sanitation facilities, high infant mortality rates, discrimination towards women, exploitation of children, child labor, low wages, and social ill-treatment of the lower sections of society.

Health Literacy

Post- independence, the Indian government and non-governmental organizations have taken up several initiatives to alleviate poverty in India. These measures include subsidizing food and other necessities, increased access to loans, improving agricultural techniques and price supports, drought area and small farmer development programs, national rural employment programs, Rozgar Yognas, and promoting education and family planning. These steps have helped in eliminating famines, reducing absolute poverty levels by more than half, reducing the widening gap between the haves and the have-nots and also in dealing with the social evils of illiteracy and malnutrition. Initiatives have been taken for generating employment in all fields such as agriculture, industry, services, and business activities.

The persistent poverty of India can be attributed to a major system failure and leakages in the system. It clearly shows that the general economic development of India has been severely lopsided since independence. Increased public-private partnership along with committed and efficient bureaucratic machinery is the need of the hour to tackle the spreading evils of poverty in India.

India Poverty

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Saturday, January 7, 2012

Women & Money - The Case For Financial Literacy

The facts are frightening: Women earn approximately 80 percent of what men earn. They live an average of five years longer than men, so they need more for their retirement. And yet, because they earn less and often work less because they take time off to care for children and elderly parents, they save less for retirement and receive lower Social Security benefits.

There are women who have conquered the historic wage gap, most struggle with unique challenges generated by the multitude of roles they play, including wage earner, wife, mother, homemaker, and caregiver. And in that struggle, the principles of sound money management often get left behind.

Health Literacy

In an article for Forbes.com, author Warren Farrell notes, "Men make decisions that result in their making more money. On the other hand, women make decisions that earn them better lives (e.g., more family and friend time)."

This statement raises two questions: One, is it possible to strike an effective balance between financial security and quality of life issues? The answer is yes-but it takes education and action. And two, while family and friend time are indeed important, what is the value of peace of mind in being able to provide for yourself and your family?

Women have a complicated and often dysfunctional relationship with personal finance. The issue is not capability-women have the ability to manage money, save, invest, and build wealth as well as men. But all too often, they simply don't do it. Even women with successful business track records, who outwardly appear confident, competent, and accomplished, have been to known to have disastrous private financial lives.

Even one woman in poverty is too many

Let's take a look at poverty statistics. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the 2004 poverty level for a family unit of one person under 65 is an annual income of ,827. In 2004, the official poverty rate was 12.7 percent, with 37 million people in the U.S. living in poverty. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that the poverty rate for all women 18 years and older in 2003 was 12.4 percent (13.8 million women). Poverty rates vary by age group among women, with the youngest women aged 18-24 years reporting a poverty rate of 19.7 percent. The lowest poverty rate (8.9 percent) was found among women aged 45-64. The poverty rate increases to 10.6 percent for women aged 65-74 and to 14.3 percent for women aged 75 years and older. Women in female-headed households with no spouse experienced higher rates of poverty (24.4 percent) than women in married-couple families (5.2 percent) and men in male-headed households (8.8 percent).

It doesn't have to be that way. Women of all ages and income levels can take control of their lives and enjoy the exhilaration of financial self-determination.

Putting it in perspective

The most powerful thing to know about money is that it is a tool that can help make your dreams come true. Money is what pays for homes, furnishings, cars, food, healthcare, clothes, entertainment-all of the material things we enjoy. It also pays for non-material things, such as allowing us to support churches, charities, and other causes. Yet money can only work for you if you understand how to manage it. And knowledge isn't enough, because there is so much emotional baggage attached to how we deal with money. According to a Fannie Mae study on personal finance: "Money usage is value laden. Budgeting decisions, daily money choices, savings behavior, and attitudes toward money are at least partly informed by values that stem from one's ethnic group, educational level, class background, income status, and gender." In addition to learning sound financial strategies, you may need a major financial attitude adjustment.

It's also important to recognize that financial education is a lifelong process. A single book, seminar, or class is not enough. Needs change over time-a young woman just finishing college, a Gen-Xer climbing the corporate ladder, a Baby Boomer preparing for retirement, or a retired senior all have distinctly different financial needs. And certainly circumstances and motivations change as one's life evolves. Along with changes in personal situations, women must also cope with a changing economy and totally unpredictable events that can impact their financial security.

When it comes to financial information, technology is a double-edged sword. Affordable computers and the internet have given us access to a tremendous amount of data that wasn't widely available before, but not all of it is sound. It takes a fundamental education in financial basics to discern what advice is good and what isn't.

Ideally, financial education should begin before children start school. But it's never too late. Regardless of your age or stage in life, now is the time to take control of your financial future by learning what to do then making the commitment to do it.

Women & Money - The Case For Financial Literacy

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Thursday, January 5, 2012

Add Punch to Your Portfolio Writing Patient-Education Materials

One of the first steps you'll need to take as a novice medical writer is to determine the type of content you want to write. That might be regulatory writing, promotional content, or educational pieces. Target audiences of educational content can be professionals or consumers. If you're used to writing for scientific audiences, shifting your focus to writing patient-education materials for consumers can be tough. But it can also be just as rewarding!

A necessary skill when writing patient-education materials is to use simple language and avoid the jargon. Here are some tips on how to write simple, easy-to-read content consumers will understand the first time they read it:
Start by asking your client to identify the target audience and the learning objective or overarching purpose of the particular document you are creating. It's also a good idea to inquire about the literacy level of the audience. Low-literacy audiences have very different needs from the general consumer audience. Develop a short title for the piece that explains the content. For example, "How to Use an EpiPen®." Separate ideas in text using headings and subheadings. Express only one key point or message in each paragraph. Write sentences and paragraphs that are short and to the point. Use active voice rather than passive. Write, "Push the EpiPen into your thigh," not "The EpiPen will be pushed into your thigh." Don't be wordy. Include only information that is relevant to the purpose of the document. In our EpiPen example, you wouldn't include an explanation about how allergies develop or list common allergens. Keep the piece jargon-free by using common terms rather than technical ones. In our example, instead of anaphylaxis, say severe allergic reaction. Use graphics and pictures to illustrate more complex concepts.

Health Literacy

When you're finished with the first draft, assess the reading level. If you work in Microsoft® Word®, you can check the reading level when you perform a grammar and spelling check. First, click on "spelling & grammar," then click on "options." In the Options window, check "Show readability statistics" then click "OK." The Flesch-Kincaid reading level appears after the spell-check is complete. For general consumers, shoot for about a 7th-grade reading level.

Add Punch to Your Portfolio Writing Patient-Education Materials

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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Women Empowerment - Myth Or Reality

You can tell the condition of a nation by looking at the status of its women.

- Jawaharlal Nehru

Health Literacy

Empowerment of any section of a society is a myth until they are conferred equality before law. The foundation of freedom, justice and fraternity is based on the recognition of the inherent dignity and of equal and inalienable rights to all the members of the society. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted and proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 10th December 1948, envisaged in Article 2 that "every one is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this declaration without distinction of any kind."

It has traditionally been accepted that the thread of family weaves the fabric of Indian society. Women are considered as the hub center of the family. Still, in the era of political domination by foreigners, the women in India suffered most. A few social reform measures were taken towards the later 19th and early 20th century during the British regime. The inception of Mahatma Gandhi in the National freedom movement ushered a new concept of mass mobilization. Women constituted about 50% of the country's total population, he, therefore, involved women in the nation's liberation movement. The mass participation of women directly in the freedom struggle was the great divide in the history of (Feminist movement) empowerment of women. They shed age-old disabilities and shared the responsibility of liberation of their motherland with their counter parts. The freedom of India thus became synonymous with the empowerment of women. In this context the date of India's political freedom (August 15, 1947) is a landmark in the history of women empowerment in India. It brought in its wake a great consciousness in our society for human dignity. It was realized that every citizen of independent India be accorded equal treatment under the law.

This is the urban age and Women along with men are here to make an impact, let's not ignore them, let's listen and prioritize them. In almost all societies through history, Women have occupied secondary position vis-à-vis men.

Women's rights and issues have always been a subject of serious concern of academicians, intelligentsia and policy makers. From pastoral society to contemporary information and global society, the role of Women has changed drastically. The role of a typical "Grihani" (house wife) who catered to all the requirements of the house holds including the rearing and upbringing of children in various sub roles of daughter, daughter-in-law, wife, mother, aunt etc. has been played quite efficiently. The continuity of changes in socio-economic and psycho-cultural aspects of human living has influenced the role of Women. With the process of Industrialization, Modernization and Globalization showing its deep impact on the human society all over the world, the role and responsibilities of Women has attained new definition and perspective. Further this has also led to addition of responsibilities and widened the role of Women who also shares the financial responsibilities.

The Women issues have received tremendous attention in the planning circle and in wide intellectual discussions and forums at national and global platforms. However the existing lacuna in the formulation and execution of the policies has not changed the grass root situation to a great extent. On the encouraging front, in the South Asian countries there have been relatively increasing economic participation in past one decade. Statistically the rate of literacy among Women has also increased. The educational and occupational patterns have also changed and widened with Women entering the domains, which till decade back was considered to be dominated by men. Further there has been encouraging rise in the percentage of the Women joining service sector especially Banking and Information Technology. In the background of the gigantic transformation, the core issue, which still remains unanswered, is that of Women's right and empowerment.

The Women rights are the means by which a dignified living is ensured thereby safeguarding her privileges. Thus the basic fundamental rights of speech, freedom and decision-making are her basic rights as an individual and citizen. The right for education and employment are significant for Women development and national development in the wider sense. The power and freedom to exercise these rights is Women empowerment. Women rights and empowerment are not independent of each other. The Women empowerment can only be facilitated only if she is able to exercise her right in the socio-economic spheres of decision-making.
AN OVERVIEW

India, with a population of 989 million, is the world's second most populous country. Of that number, 120 million are Women who live in poverty.

India has 16 percent of the world's population, but only 2.4 percent of its land, resulting in great pressures on its natural resources.

Over 70 percent of India's population currently derives their livelihood from land resources, which includes 84 percent of the economically-active Women.

India is one of the few countries where males significantly outnumber females, and this imbalance has increased over time. India's maternal mortality rates in rural areas are among the worlds highest. From a global perspective, Indian accounts for 19 percent of all lives births and 27 percent of all maternal deaths.

"There seems to be a consensus that higher female mortality between ages one and five and high maternal mortality rates result in a deficit of females in the population. In the year 1990 it was estimated that deaths of young girls in India exceed those of young boys by over 300,000 each year, and every sixth infant death is specifically due to gender discrimination." Of the 15 million baby girls born in India each year, nearly 25 percent will not live to see their 15th birthday.
The Indian constitution grants Women equal rights with men, but strong patriarchal traditions persist, with Women's lives shaped by customs that are centuries old. In most Indian families, a daughter is viewed as a liability, and she is conditioned to believe that she is inferior and subordinate to men. Sons are idolized and celebrated. May you be the mother of a hundred sons is a common Hindu wedding blessing.

The origin of the Indian idea of appropriate female behavior can be traced to the rules laid down by Manu in 200 B.C.: "by a young girl, by a young woman, or even by an aged one, nothing must be done independently, even in her own house". "In childhood a female must be subject to her father, in youth to her husband, when her lord is dead to her sons; a woman must never be independent."

WOMEN ARE MALNOURISHED

The exceptionally high rates of malnutrition in South Asia are rooted deeply in the soil of inequality between men and Women.

This point is made in the article, The Asian Enigma, published by Unicef in the 1996 Progress of Nations, in which the rates of childhood malnutrition in South Asia are compared with those in Africa. We learn that malnutrition is far worse in South Asia, directly due to the fact that Women in South Asia have less voice and freedom of movement than in Africa despite the fact that in comparison to Africa , Asia is far more better in terms of economy.

MATERNAL MORTALITY

India's maternal mortality rates in rural areas are among the highest in the world.
A factor that contributes to India's high maternal mortality rate is the reluctance to seek medical care for pregnancy - it is viewed as a temporary condition that will disappear. The estimates nationwide are that only 40-50 percent of Women receive any antenatal care. Evidence from the states of Bihar, Rajasthan, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat find registration for maternal and child health services to be as low as 5-22 percent in rural areas and 21-51 percent in urban areas.

Even a woman who has had difficulties with previous pregnancies is usually treated with home remedies only for three reasons: the decision that a pregnant woman seek help rests with the mother-in-law and husband; financial considerations; and fear that the treatment may be more harmful than the malady.

JOB IMPACT ON MATERNAL HEALTH

"Working conditions result in premature and stillbirths."

The tasks performed by Women are usually those that require them to be in one position for long periods of time, which can adversely affect their reproductive health. A study in a rice-growing belt of coastal Maharashtra found that 40 percent of all infant deaths occurred in the months of July to October. The study also found that a majority of births were either premature or stillbirths. The study attributed this to the squatting position that had to be assumed during July and August, the rice transplanting months.

WOMEN ARE UNEDUCATED

"Women and girls receive far less education than men, due both to social norms and fears of violence."

India has the largest population of non-school-going working girls.

Although substantial progress has been achieved since India won its independence in 1947, when less than 8 percent of females were literate, the gains have not been rapid enough to keep pace with population growth: there were 16 million more illiterate females in 1991 than in 1981.

WOMEN ARE OVERWORKED

"Women work longer hours and their work is more arduous than men's. Still, men report that "Women, like children, eat and do nothing."

Women work roughly twice as many as many hours as men.

Women's contribution to agriculture - whether it be subsistence farming or commercial agriculture - when measured in terms of the number of tasks performed and time spent, is greater than men. "The extent of Women's contribution is aptly highlighted by a micro study conducted in the Indian Himalayas which found that on a one-hectare farm, a pair of bullocks works 1,064 hours, a man 1,212 hours and a woman 3,485 hours in a year."

THE INVISIBILITY OF WOMEN'S WORK

Women's work is rarely recognized.

Many maintain that Women's economic dependence on men impacts their power within the family. With increased participation in income-earning activities, not only will there be more income for the family, but gender inequality should be reduced. This issue is particularly salient in India because studies show a very low level of female participation in the labor force. This under-reporting is attributed to the frequently held view that Women's work is not economically productive.
Women's employment in family farms or businesses is rarely recognized as economically productive, either by men or Women. And, any income generated from this work is generally controlled by the men. Such work is unlikely to increase Women's participation in allocating family finances. In a 1992 study of family-based texile workers, male children who helped in a home-based handloom mill were given pocket money, but the adult Women and girls were not.

WOMEN ARE ILLTREATED

"Violence against Women and girls is the most pervasive human rights violation in the world today."
"Opening the door on the subject of violence against the world's females is like standing at the threshold of an immense dark chamber vibrating with collective anguish, but with the sounds of protest throttled back to a murmur. Where there should be outrage aimed at an intolerable status quo there is instead denial, and the largely passive acceptance of 'the way things are."

Male violence against Women is a worldwide phenomenon. Although not every woman has experienced it, and many expect not to, fear of violence is an important factor in the lives of most Women. It determines what they do, when they do it, where they do it, and with whom. Fear of violence is a cause of Women's lack of participation in activities beyond the home, as well as inside it. Within the home, Women and girls may be subjected to physical and sexual abuse as punishment or as culturally justified assaults. These acts shape their attitude to life, and their expectations of themselves.

In recent years, there has been an alarming rise in atrocities against Women in India. Every 26 minutes a woman is molested. Every 34 minutes a rape takes place. Every 42 minutes a sexual harassment incident occurs. Every 43 minutes a woman is kidnapped. And every 93 minutes a woman is burnt to death over dowry.

One-quarter of the reported rapes involve girls under the age of 16 but the vast majority are never reported. Although the penalty is severe, convictions are rare.

WOMEN ARE POWERLESS

Legal protection of Women's rights have little effect in the face of prevailing patriarchal traditions.
Be it in the case of Marriage:

"Women are subordinate in most marriages."

Child Marriages

"Child marriages keep Women subjugated."

Dowries:

Women are kept subordinate, and are even murdered, by the practice of dowry.

Divorce:

Divorce is not a viable option.

Divorce is rare - it is a considered a shameful admission of a woman's failure as a wife and daughter-in-law. In 1990, divorced Women made up a miniscule 0.08 percent of the total female population.

Maintenance rights of Women in the case of divorce are weak. Although both Hindu and Muslim law recognize the rights of Women and children to maintenance, in practice, maintenance is rarely set at a sufficient amount and is frequently violated.

Inheritance

Women's rights to inheritance are limited and frequently violated.

In the mid-1950s the Hindu personal laws, which apply to all Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs and Jains, were overhauled, banning polygamy and giving Women rights to inheritance, adoption and divorce. The Muslim personal laws differ considerably from that of the Hindus, and permit polygamy. Despite various laws protecting Women's rights, traditional patriarchal attitudes still prevail and are strengthened and perpetuated in the home.

EMPOWERMENT AND WOMEN: VARIABLE IN INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

The World Bank has identified empowerment as one of the key constituent elements of poverty reduction, and as a primary development assistance goal. The Bank has also made gender mainstreaming a priority in development assistance, and is in the process of implementing an ambitious strategy to this effect. The promotion of Women's empowerment as a development goal is based on a dual argument: that social justice is an important aspect of human welfare and is intrinsically worth pursuing; and that Women's empowerment is a means to other ends. A recent policy research report by the World Bank, for example, identifies gender equality both as a development objective in itself, and as a means to promote growth, reduce poverty and promote better governance. A similar dual rationale for supporting Women's empowerment has been articulated in the policy statements put forth at several high level international conferences in the past decade (e.g. the Beijing Platform for Action, the Beijing declaration and resolution, the Cairo Programme of Action, the Millennium Declaration, and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

Yet to date neither the World Bank nor any other major development agency has developed a rigorous method for measuring and tracking changes in levels of empowerment. In the absence of such measures, it is difficult for the international development community to be confident that their efforts to empower women are succeeding and that this important Millennium Development Goal will be achieved.

Thus, this review attempts to the following:

1. An indication of the different ways in which empowerment has been conceptualized;

2. A critical examination of some of the approaches that have been developed to measure and track changes in Women's empowerment;

3. An examination of some of the ways in which the effects of policies and programmatic interventions to promote Women's empowerment have been measured;

4. A summary of the evidence on how Women's empowerment affects important development outcomes such as health, education, fertility behavior, income levels, etc.

How Should Empowerment be Operationally Defined?

"Empowerment" has been used to represent a wide range of concepts and to describe a proliferation of outcomes. The term has been used more often to advocate for certain types of policies and intervention strategies than to analyze them, as demonstrated by a number of documents from the United Nations, the Association for Women in Development, the Declaration made at the Micro-credit Summit, and other organizations. Feminist activist writings often promote empowerment of individuals and organizations of Women but vary in the extent to which they conceptualize or discuss how to identify it.

Relevant studies describe empowerment as "the enhancement of assets and capabilities of diverse individuals and groups to engage, influence and hold accountable the institutions which affect them." In general, Women do not take a central place in much of the literature on social inclusion or empowerment.

The Process of Empowerment

There are various attempts in the literature to develop a comprehensive understanding of empowerment through breaking the process down into key components.

MEASURING WOMEN'S EMPOWERMENT

Measuring Empowerment from a Universalist Perspective

As we move from a discussion of conceptualizing empowerment to measuring it, it is important to note that measures of empowerment must involve standards that lie outside localized gender systems and a recognition of universal elements of gender subordination.

As we move from a discussion of conceptualizing empowerment to measuring it, it is important to note that measures of empowerment must involve standards that lie outside localized gender systems and a recognition of universal elements of gender subordination (Sen and Grown 1987; Bisnath and Elson 1999; Nussbaum 2000). It is clear from the literature on gender and empowerment that the role of gender in development cannot be understood without understanding the socio-cultural (as well as political and economic) contexts in which development takes place. The concept of empowerment only has meaning within these specific contexts. At the same time, operational definitions (e.g. definitions embodied in indicators to be applied in the context of development assistance policies, programs, and projects) should be consistent with the spirit of international conventions to which countries providing international development assistance have been signatories. The approach based in universal human rights offers the best operational framework for this task.

Because empowerment is multi-dimensional, researchers must use care in constructing index or scale variables relating to empowerment Such variables may mask differential effects of interventions on distinct aspects of empowerment. Inappropriate combining of items relating to gender and empowerment may also mask differential effects of the component variables on outcomes of interest.

CHALLENGES TO MEASURING EMPOWERMENT

Empowerment is Context Specific

One of the major difficulties in measuring empowerment is that the behaviors and attributes that signify empowerment in one context often have different meanings elsewhere. For example, a shift in women's ability to visit a health center without getting permission from a male household member may be a sign of empowerment in rural Bangladesh but not in, for example, urban Peru. Context can also be important in determining the extent to which empowerment at the household or individual level is a determinant of development outcomes.

CRITICAL PARADIGMS

There are certain critical paradigms, which need to be examined from the point of view of women issues.

1. Constitutional Provisions and Policies: The principle of gender equality is enshrined in the Constitution of India (in the Preamble and fundamental rights) where by the constitution upholds and grants the equality to women. The National commission for women, which was set up in 1990 through an Act of Parliament to safeguard the rights and legal entitlements of women, is considered to be the apex body to ensure rights and work towards the women empowerment. In terms of five-year plans the fifth five-year plan (1974-78) is considered to be very crucial from the point of view of women development with 1975 being declared as International Year of Women.
The 73rd and 74th Amendments of constitution of India in 1993 are landmarks to ensure political empowerment of women. These provisions surely ensure of legal protection of women's rights, but socio-economic rights of freedom and decision-making is still not realized to the extent of social empowerment. One of the reasons is the rigid patriarchal structure of the Indian Society.

National Policy for the empowerment of women (2001):

The goal of the National Policy for the empowerment of women is to bring about the advancement, development and empowerment of women. Some of the specific objectives of this policy are: a) Creating an environment through positive economic and social policies for full development of women to enable them to realize their full potential, b) Equal access to health care, quality education at all levels, career and vocational guidance etc, c) Elimination of discrimination and all forms of violence against women and girl child.

The policy also provides for economic empowerment through poverty eradication, micro credit programmes, training of women to facilitate them in playing efficient role in agriculture and industry. The social empowerment of women is facilitated through effective provisions of Education, Health, Nutrition, Drinking water and Sanitation, gender sensitization etc. Elimination of all forms of violence against women, physical and mental, whether at domestic or societal levels, including those arising from customs, traditions and accepted practices.

The effective implementation of the policy at all levels can be a gigantic step for women development and can set an example for other countries in South Asia.

WOMEN'S EMPOWERMENT ISSUES AND REMEDIES IN INDIA

Empowerment of women is a gradual and complicated process. It involves changing the way of thinking of the whole society. From long time it has been stamped on the minds of the people that women are inferior to men. It is not easy to change the stubborn attitude of the people. In rural India, Women have inadequate access to education, health facilities, healthy diet etc.

In India gradually the percentage of working women is rising. Only by contributing towards income of the family the women can get rid of the status of "burden".

Entrepreneur women can positively contribute to attain the goal of women empowerment. Entrepreneurship provides women for what she is longing for - control over the resources and power of decision making. Such women can help in poverty alleviation by providing job opportunities for many other deserving women.

Surveys have proved that a large percentage of educated but not trained women are present in the country. Such women can be given training in a specific field like making homemade papads or pickles, handicrafts and many such things and can start their own small enterprise.

Self-employment is a blessing for poor and deserving women as sufficient job opportunities are not available in the country. In small sector, the women may be owner of the enterprise may be a manager or controller or may be a worker in the enterprise.

Tenth plan is initiating women empowerment by implementing specific strategies like such social environment would be created by providing necessary services so that women would be proficient to utilize their potential, To make the women economically self-reliant, proper training would be provided to them. Equal rights for the women would be provided so that there is no social, political discrimination against her.

In the present scenario, where phenomenal advancements are occurring in each and every sphere, women empowerment has become crucial for alleviating poverty and procuring over all growth.
We can not abscond the fact that Women's rights are human rights and should be treated as such. .The fact that women's rights need to be safeguarded in every country of the world cannot be overemphasized. In a historic decision, the Rajasthan government is changing the service rules to punish employees who are found guilty of torturing their wives. As reported in a national daily, the punishment could involve sacking and action would correspond the crime, with punishments including suspension and stoppage of increments.

A small step forward in terms of marriage was taken when the Hindu Marriage Act was enacted in 1955. The term Hindu in this case includes Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs and their denominations. Several laws have been enacted including the Child Marriage Restraint Act of 1929 and the current Special Marriage Act,1954 which governs civil marriages. In this Act, for a boy and girl to get married they must have completed 21 and 18 years of age respectively. Bigamy is prohibited in this Act and each party is expected to give consent to the marriage. For a civil marriage, three witnesses are necessary. Progressive laws such as these protect the woman. Under the Islamic law, marriage is considered a contract and a nikaah is performed with several do's and don'ts. The Parsis are governed by the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1936. Christians are governed by the Christian Marriage Act, 1872 and the marriage usually takes place in a church.

The report on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) released by the Government recently mentions the steps taken by it to contain the negative impact of restructuring of the economy that India has embarked upon. The Government of India made special efforts to increase its support for social sectors and started a number of schemes aimed at the poor, particularly poor women and women in the informal sector. These include the Rashtriya Mahila Kosh and the Mahila Samakhya programs.

Keeping in line with the governmentýs policy on equal opportunity, there are 65 women in senior positions in the Indian Foreign Service around the world. For the first time after Independence the highest post in the Foreign Service, is to be occupied by a female foreign secretary, Chokila Iyer. It is commendable that despite various hurdles and mindsets, the Government has managed to ensure equal career opportunities for women.

The government has taken a number of steps and enacted a number of legislations to protect and safeguard women and ensure that their rights are not abused. One such measure is the Maternity Benefits Act, 1961.

RECOMMENDATIONS

We propose the following next steps for moving forward the agenda on measuring women's empowerment:

1. Development of a framework of domains or dimensions that can be applied across settings would be the natural next step for building on the strengths of the existing literature on the conceptualization of empowerment. Procedures for determining indicators for each domain, at different levels of aggregation, and across contexts, should also be developed. This effort would move the measurement of women's empowerment agenda forward considerably by allowing for greater specification of exactly what aspect of empowerment-i.e. which dimension-is of interest, and realistic specifications of the type of change that can be expected over a specific period of time, and given specific interventions. It would also move forward efforts to develop context-specific measures that more closely resemble what they are meant to measure and reduce the reliance on proxy measures.

2. Better, more coordinated efforts at data collection are needed. For example, the process component of women's empowerment cannot be effectively captured in any measurement scheme without the availability of data across time. Attention to process also requires a discussion of the appropriate time periods for data collection of various types of indicators. At the aggregate level, a broader range of more sophisticated, gender- disaggregated data are needed with regard to the labor force, market conditions, legal and political rights, political and social processes. At the household level, data need to be more frequently collected for important, but relatively under-utilized indicators such as time use or violence against women.

3. Greater attention to measuring women's empowerment at "meso" levels is required along with efforts at documenting the impact of program and policy interventions. For programmatic and policy evaluation, existing models of monitoring and evaluation that are effective need to be tapped, and their adequacy for women's empowerment as an outcome or intermediary process should be assessed. At a minimum, quasi-experimental evaluation designs and the collection of baseline and endline data must be considered in implementing programs aimed at empowering women. Measurement of institutional and normative change in communities requires new and innovative approaches. One approach to consider is the business school model of case studies. Documentation through narratives which are then analyzed using qualitative techniques would be another option. Exploration of the work on collective action may also provide further guidance. This is clearly an area where a review of lessons learned from related efforts and cross- disciplinary approaches would be helpful.

4. Greater interdisciplinary engagement is necessary to develop indicators and approaches that capture the key elements of women's empowerment, have scientific merit, and acceptability among important stakeholders. Although at this stage we have drawn only from literature that has been at the core of the discourse on women's empowerment, it is clear that continued efforts at moving this work forward would benefit from drawing on a wide range of disciplines. Moreover, based on what we reviewed from sociology, demography, economics, and anthropology, it is clear that there is overlap, but not much interaction across disciplines. Further interdisciplinary engagement would greatly facilitate the task of translating the current consensus on conceptualization to the actual measurement of women's empowerment.

CONCLUSION

As UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has stated, "Gender equality is more than a goal in itself. It is a precondition for meeting the challenge of reducing poverty, promoting sustainable development and building good governance."

In a globalizing world, gender equality and empowerments of women are vital tools-to achieve sustainable developments of societies, and are even admitted by the fools!
Still, the violence towards women is an epidemic against which no country is immune-
And today, we face the greater challenges of human rights and a non-melodious tune!
In the arena of politics, the poor are excluded from governance, regardless of the gender- And women are victims of other people's decisions 'Cause they are assumed to be tender! So the entire spectrum of women's roles to combat poverty, hunger, and disease- Need to be re-examined under the new Millennium lights before the roles decease! Impacts of modern conflicts now affect the global women and girls without a doubt- But they're neither initiators nor prosecutors of conflicts, or matching game of shout! Determined efforts must be taken to end the impunity surrounding this lamentable claw- And the perpetrators must be brought to justice, and told that they are not above the law!

Only through action to remedy discrimination against women can the vision of India's independence - an India where all people have the chance to live health and productive lives - be realized.

Women Empowerment - Myth Or Reality

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