We are off to India again as Rotarians to take part in the February 2015 National Immunisation Day (NID). Although India and its region have been certified as Polio Free, the Indian Authorities are not prepared to relax because they share a border with the country which currently has the largest number of annual Polio cases in the world - Pakistan.
This year we have been asked to lead the group going to Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh, a town about 180kms east of Delhi. If you type Moradabad into any search engine, the results are not very enlightening. All that we have been able to determine is that "It is an old city, established by the Mughal prince ‘MURAD’ and is famous for its Brass Industry. Brass Wares, Stainless steel utensils, Electro-Plated Nickel Silver and lacquer-plated brasswares” . This helpful information comes from the Moradabad Railway Division Website which has either taken it from Wikipedia or perhaps Wikipedia has taken it from the Railway website.
The Indian National Census website provides (here) a range of statistical facts about the city and surrounding area. These seem to be typical of many Indian cities and they can be simplified as: Males 2.8 million; Females 2.3 million, a 25% increase during the past 10 years; 784,000 children aged 0 to 6; a literacy rate of 55% (male 65%, female 48%); only 17% of all children are fully vaccinated against the complete range of childhood illnesses (the all India figure is 39%). Numerous other statistical interpretations of Moradabad can be found here. Its religion is predominantly Hindu then Muslim. A summary could be "poor and performing below national averages in every respect".
With respect to Polio it proved very hard to eliminate it in this area, partly because of its hold within the environment and partly because of religious opposition - the latter is said to have been dealt with by convincing the local religious leaders of the value of Polio Vaccination and they in turn are said to have given instructions to their flock. Hence it is a priority area for Polio Vaccination even though India is Polio free. It is scheduled to receive five vaccination days this year.
A dark wintery Tuesday evening finds us on the train and then the tube going towards Heathrow in order to catch the night flight to New Delhi. We take off on time and land early, the queues at Immigration are very short, our bags are amongst the first in the baggage hall and our driver is waiting for us land side to whisk us through the Delhi traffic to our hotel.
And so, approximately 13 hours after closing the door on our house on a dark cold night in England, we open the door to our hotel room on a bright, hot, slightly humid afternoon in Delhi ready for a few hours catchup sleep before heading out to enjoy Delhi.