Jan Sansad 2014: November 26-30, 2012 at Jantar Mantar

Peoples Assembly (Jan Sansad) at Jantar Mantar

Voices of People’s Movements in India’ Democracy

Countdown to 2014

Dear Friends,

People’s movements in India have played a very important role in highlighting the concerns of the ordinary citizen, particularly the voices of the poor and marginalized. Almost all have originated in injustice, inequality and denial of rights.

Some of us have taken the initiative to bring together a number of campaigns/organizations on a common platform. The objective is to take forward the demands of each campaign and highlight the interlinking principles of democracy and justice that bind us together. This People’s Assembly will be held during the next session of Parliament. This platform will help articulate our broader vision and locate the specific campaign in the larger mosaic of democratic rights. Seen together our multitude of struggles represent the voice of India’s “real mainstream”.

This is to invite you to join and support this People’s Assembly being organized for 5 days from November 26-30, 2012 at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi. During this period we plan to hold a series of public hearings/demonstrations to bring before Parliament many basic issues awaiting legislative action.  We believe that Parliament must function and there are too many important issues, including corruption that must be taken up on the floor of the house. We also want to use this opportunity to build a people’s Manifesto for the 2014 elections. We want to make it clear to Parties that we will hold them accountable for not acting in this session and term of Parliament as well as ensure that people’s issues find prominent space in their manifestos in 2014.

We are distressed by the increasing repression by the State, particularly on leaders of Campaigns and movements, as well as the assault on democratic rights of citizens. We, therefore we want to use this opportunity to collectively assert our commitment to democratic principles and protect India’s basic Constitutional framework. The tentative plan is to begin with a re-affirmation of Constitutional commitments in the context of India today. This will be followed by different activities on successive days so that there is space for each campaign/movement to present its demands. They will also draw attention to the democratic and governance issues implicit in their demands, thereby also offering a critique of Indian democracy and the nature of governance.

Day 1: Asserting our Democratic Rights – Building a People’s Manifesto for 2014

“On the 26th January 1950, we are going to enter into a life of contradictions. In politics we will have equality and in social and economic life we will have inequality. In politics we will be recognising the principle of one man one vote and one vote one value. In our social and economic life, we shall by reason of our social and economic structure, continue to deny the principle of one man one value. How long shall we continue to live this life of contradictions? How long shall we continue to deny equality in our social and economic life? If we continue to deny it for long, we will do so only by putting our political democracy in peril. We must remove this contradiction at the earliest possible moment else those who suffer from inequality will blow up the structure of democracy which this Constituent Assembly has so laboriously built up.”

B.R. Ambedkar

Co-ordination: Jointly by all the campaigns/organizations taking part in this assembly

November 26 is the day that the Constituent Assembly finalized the Constitution of India. The leaders of people’s movements will be invited to critique the existing economic and political framework in the context of basic Constitutional principles. They will underline the infringement of fundamental rights and the nature of the assault on democracy that has accelerated with the pushing of the “development” agenda. Some of the principles and processes required for building a viable alternative will be sketched and debated. Focus areas will include:

  • Multiple concerns of the poor
  • Responsibility of the State in eradicating poverty and provide basic services
  • Panchayati Raj and de-centralized governance
  • Neo-liberal economic framework – determining our own economic future
  • Inclusive India- addressing the concerns of marginalized communities
  • People’s control over natural resources
  • Defining Participatory Democracy
  • Deepening Democracy
  • Fighting State repression
  • Fighting the Sedition law
  • Diversifying forms of Public Protest
  • Protecting the Freedom of expression and other democratic rights
  • Independence of Media

Day 2: Governance Issues – transparency, accountability, anti-corruption

Coordination: NCPRI and State RTI forums and groups

  • Pending Legislation [Whistle-blower, Lokpal, Grievance Redress, Judicial Accountability]

Day 3: State Responsibility for Social Security and Basic Services

Coordination: Pension Parishad; PAEG

  • Pension
  • Employment
  • Un-organized Sector Worker Rights
  • Imminent threat of Cash Transfers
  • Education
  • Health

 

Day 4:  Land, Agriculture and Natural Resources

Coordination: NAPM; Ekta Parishad; RTF campaign; Green Peace; ASHA [Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture]; Mines, Minerals and People;

  • Food
  • Proposed Land Acquisition Bill
  • Land Reforms Task Force
  • Seeds Bill and Bio-technology Bill
  • Budgetary allocations to agriculture
  • Renumerative prices for farmers
  • Sustainable farming and farm livelihoods
  • Income guarantee for farming households
  • Mining Policy and proposed Mining Bill

Day 5: Gender and Discrimination

Although this day is being coordinated by gender groups, equally important issues of discrimination and inequality affecting dalits, tribals, minorities and other marginalized groups such as single women, disabled people and persons affected by HIV.

 Coordination: NFIW; One Billion Rising; Jagori;

These are a few issues, which do not comprehensively cover all our concerns. The list is illustrative. The attempt is to provide a framework, which will allow both the specific and general concerns to be tabled and pressure built to meet the demands.

We hope in the five days to begin shaping a discourse to specifically highlight immediate concerns, before Parliament. Many of these voices we hope will also contribute towards the formulation of a draft People’s Manifesto for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. We feel that we need to put together our voices and concerns to push legislations long promised and galvanize Parliament to act now. This is a continuing process and we believe that our voices should shape the electoral discourse in 2014 and feed into political manifestos.

Signatories

  1. Act Now for Harmony And Democracy (ANHAD),
  2. Aman Biradri,
  3. All India Mazdoor Kisan Sangharsh Samiti (AIMKSS),
  4. All India Network of Sex Workers (AINSW),
  5. Alliance of Indian Waste pickers,
  6. Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture (ASHA),
  7. ASHA Parivar,
  8. Association for Democratic Reform (ADR),
  9. Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti,
  10. Bihar MGNREGA Watch (BMW),
  11. Centre For Advocacy Research (CFAR),
  12. Centre for Health and Resource Management (CHARM),
  13. Coalition for a GM-Free India,
  14. Global Human Rights Communication,
  15. Greenpeace India,
  16. Ekta Parishad,
  17. Hamal Panchayat,
  18. Inclusive Media for Change,
  19. Indian Community Activists Network (ICAN),
  20. Jagori,
  21. Jan Jagran Shakti Sangathan (JJSS),
  22. Jhuggi Jhopari Sangharsh Morcha, Bihar
  23. Joint Organization for Self Help (JOSH),
  24. Kachra Kamgar Union Bharat,
  25. Kagad Kanch Patra Kamgar Saghatana (KKPKS), Aurangabad
  26. Khudai Khidmatgar,
  27. Manzil,
  28. Maharastra Rajya Hamal Mapadi Mahamandal, Pune
  29. Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS),
  30. Mission Bhartiyam,
  31. Molrarni Va Gharelu Kamgar Sanghatana (Domestic workers Union), Aurangabad
  32. National Alliance of Peoples Movments (NAPM),
  33. National Campaign Committee for Rural Workers (NCCRW),
  34. National Campaign for People’s Right to Information (NCPRI),
  35. National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR)
  36. National Federation for Indian Women (NFIW),
  37. Pardarshita,
  38. Peoples Action for Employment Guarantee (PAEG),
  39. Pension Parishad,
  40. Right to Food Campaign,
  41. Rajasthan Adivasi Adhikar Manch,
  42. Rajasthan Mazdoor Kisan Union,
  43. Right to Water Campaign,
  44. RTI Manch, Rajasthan ,
  45. Sangath,
  46. Satark Nagarik Sangathan (SNS),
  47. Soochna Evum Rozgar Abhiyan (SR Abhiyan)
  48. Voluntary Forum of Education, Bihar
  49. Womens’ Voice
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