See photos and information relating to Jan Sansad 2012 here:
See photos and information relating to Jan Sansad 2012 here:
Peoples Assembly (Jan Sansad) at Jantar Mantar
Voices of People’s Movements in India’ Democracy
Countdown to 2014
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.”
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:
Day 2: Governance Issues – transparency, accountability, anti-corruption
Coordination: NCPRI and State RTI forums and groups
Day 3: State Responsibility for Social Security and Basic Services
Coordination: Pension Parishad; PAEG
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;
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.
The Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) is extremely concerned about the slew of arrests of activists Dayamani Barla, Medha Patkar, S.R. Suniti and others with them. Not only have they been raising issues of concern to the poorest of people, they have done so through modes of peaceful democratic protest within the constitutional framework This is clearly an arbitrary and illegal means of suppressing any voice of democratic protest especially when it affects commercial and corporate interests .
Medha Patkar, National Convener of National Alliance for Peoples Movements was in Chinwara to support Kisan Sangarsh Samiti in their on-going protests against the acquisition of land for the construction of a dam under the Pench Water Diversion Project. This project was initially set up for irrigation purposes and now the water is being diverted to Adani power plant. The acquisition processes and government clearances are incomplete. The fact that Aradhna Bhargava and Medha Patkar along with several others were arrested from the residence of Aradhna Bhargava when they were not even at the protest site reveals the extent to which the State will go, to protect corporate interests even at the cost of democratic rights and civil liberties.
Dayamni Barla, National Co-Convener of the National Alliance of People’s Movements has been in Jail since 16th October. Her offence is protesting against the acquisition of fertile agricultural land for building universities. This land had been acquired under urgency clause in 1957-58 for building a seed farm for the Birsa Agricultural University, which did not get built, and was later allotted, to IIM and NUSRL by the Jharkhand Government. Every time she is given bail, she is immediately rearrested and is currently in Hotwar Central Jail facing her third set of charges.
S.R. Suniti, National Convener of National Alliance for Peoples Movements and other women were arrested in Pune while protesting against the illegal submergence caused by Wand Marathwadi dam, the illegal acquisition of tribal land in the Lavasa hill city area and the non regularization of resettlement colonies of project affected people of the Tata Dam in Lonavla area.
These events though in different parts of the country are a part of a deliberate attack on citizens claiming their right to protest and dissent against the current mode of development. The highly contested land acquisition bill is under consideration in parliament. These are cases of blatant violation of rights of those being displaced for commercial projects. Instead of their questions and concerns being addressed, the few who speak out are being arrested and repressed. It is vitally important spaces of dissent are preserved in a democracy and people’s movements, themselves committed to democratic principles are given the same legitimacy that the political class seeks for itself.
Aruna Roy, Nikhil Dey, Lal Singh, Bhanwar Meghwanshi, Narayan and Shankar Singh, (for the MKSS)
10th November 2012