Thursday, December 08, 2005

Dr.Lenin Raghuvanshi, Ashoka Fellow

Dr.Lenin Raghuvanshi, Ashoka Fellow
By linking a coalition of National and International supporters to local campaigns against caste injustice, Dr.Lenin are awakening, arousing and encouraging the Indian Civil Society to diagnose and treat the caste origin of Social conflict. Though 밬ntouchability ?was outlawed by the Indian Constitution fifty years ago, in reality, caste division continues to exist in Indian Civil Society particularly in the Villages where 80% of Indians live. Subsequent laws have elaborated the rights and protections due to Dalits and tribal minorities. But contradiction between the laws that are supposed to govern a society, and the ethics and beliefs, which in fact rule the streets, run high. Civil society treats the symptoms of caste discrimination without attacking the disease itself. There is a tendency to reduce problems originating from caste conflict to problems of poverty. Higher income, however, does not preclude cultural discrimination. Each case is treated by giving out aids to the person suffering from a particular rights violation without looking at the underlying caste discrimination. The greater impact of such an approach has been negligible because it sought to achieve equality among people whose inherent inequality was accepted by society, perpetuated by Government and seldom challenged.
Lenin efforts spring from the insight that unless civil society deals with the injustices of the caste system head ?on, it is not attacking social conflict at its root. Translating these convictions into action, they have built local, regional and nationwide institutions that challenge caste .His People뭩 Vigilance Committee On Human Rights (PVCHR) is a large membership organization that involves people from different walks of life Among its 50,000 members in five northern states are the 3000 ex-torture victims whom PVCHR has helped to rehabilitate. Their continued solidarity demonstrate how both Lenin is creatively building an inclusive social movement Also participating are famous intellectuals whose integrity and credibility raise the coalition뭩 public image.
To translate policy into practice Lenin has begun working on the latest part of his strategy, Jan Mitra Gaon or People-Friendly Village. These are villages where the community has durable local institutions that work to promote basic human rights in the face of continuous discrimination. Lenin has adopted 43 rural villages and 2 urban slums , covering more than One Hundred Thousand people , to mount his pilot projects, which include reactivating defunct primary schools, eradicating, bonded labor, ensuring and encouraging education of the Girl Child and promoting non-formal education. The Village committees consist of 50% or more Dalits and seek to realize greater political representation of Dalits on village councils.
Their organization, PVCHR networks with International human rights organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch to increase pressure on the Indian government and broaden support for the movement against caste System. He has influenced other human rights organizations and funding agencies to reorient their goals and priorities towards eradication of the Indian Caste System. PVCHR also has the distinction of using the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to award the highest amount in compensation to a caste violence survivor. Due to their continuous advocacy, the State Human Rights Commission for the State of Uttar Pradesh was established.
Lenin뭩 views on caste, conflict and social change took shape while they working on the rescue and rehabilitation of bonded laborers in the Carpet Industry. In 1995 Lenin who were born into high caste feudal Hindu families noticed that not a single child bonded in the sari or carpet industries belong to the upper caste even though some high caste families were often just as poor as the lower castes. They realized that caste not class was at work. By the end of 1996 Lenin identified caste in all social conflicts and envisioned a movement that could break the closed feudal hierarchies of conservative slums and villages by building up local institutions and supporting them with a high profile and an active human rights network.
He says?At the village level we move from policy to practice, mounting campaigns to enroll Dalit children in school, get fair wages for manual labor, obtaining land titles and otherwise securing their basic Constitutional Rights. NGOs intellectuals and sympathizers however must take the opposite approach by moving from practice to policy. They began pushing civil society to acknowledge cast itself as a human rights issue. These two strategies represent a partnership between social activists who possess technical expertise and victims at grassroots who know and feel caste discrimination.?
Lenin Raghuvanshi was born in a traditional Hindu family belonging to the warrior caste second in the Hindu Caste Hierarchy. His family has a Revolutionary background right from the time of British rule in India when in the 1857 Indian 1st War of Independence the British for participating in it hanged four members of his family. Later as the freedom movement gained momentum his Grandfather emerged as a leading Freedom fighter. His own father was a staunch socialist who actively opposed feudalism along with such renowned national socialist leaders like Ems Nambootripad & Jyoti Basu etc. and had been jailed on several occasion.
After spending his infant days in Mumbai he moved to his ancestral home in the village of Dhaurahara in Eastern Uttar Pradesh. Belonging to a traditionally well-established landed family he lived a relatively comfortable life. However he was discouraged from mixing with children of poor families of his village whom he was told are low caste or Dalits. Within his home the child Lenin remembers the family뭩 ill treatment of the domestic servant, a Dalit boy. He remembers the boy doing all the housework but none spoke kindly to him or gave him sufficient food, which was thrown to him as if given to dogs. These subtle behaviours in the feudal and patriarchal background of the village attracted his attention and firmly rooted these events in his memory. Later he moved to the city where his father was struggling to make his living, the lad Lenin attended the Government School where majority of the students belonged to the lower Caste or Dalits but one by one all of them dropped out. By now his understanding had developed enough to understand the social set up and the impact of Caste System and gradually developed revulsion for it.
At the same time right from his High School days he began to participate in social activities. Thus in 1990 he established the Uttar Pradesh Branch of the United Nation Youth Organization (UNYO). As part of this he organized several awareness seminars and workshops to highlight the evils of Pollution. In 1993 he founded the Bachpan Bachao Andolon or Save Childhood Campaign. This was aimed at rescuing the millions of Children employed in Carpet, Silk and Sports Industry. It was Herculean task, which would bring him in conflict with the DONS of these Industries who enjoyed much political economic and social clout. Between 1993 and 1998 he was directly responsible for the rescue of more than 350 to 500 children. As part of this campaign he launched in 1997 the FAIRPLAY CAMPAIGN. All these efforts for the first time brought to light the children labor Force behind the lucrative exports in Silk, Carpets, Brick Kiln & Sports Industries. Awareness both in India and abroad soon compelled the Government and Industries to take note. As recognition he was nominated to the district board for bonded labor. Continuing with his studies he graduated in medicine specializing in Ayurveda and got a lucrative job as a Residential Medical Officer.
In 1992 he got married to Shruti who proved to be his most valuable supporter. She too was converted to his CAUSE. However the Revolutionary spirit within him; made him conscious of the need to become fully involved. Hence he resigned from his job. This however brought him in conflict with his parents who drove him out of the home. Jobless and homeless the Young couple took up a rented accommodation and helped by a few well wishers they relentlessly pursued their vision.
The Save The Childhood Campaign was an eye opener for Dr.Lenin and Shruti. They noticed that most of the children rescued from child labor were mostly from the Dalit households but none from the upper caste. In the course of rehabilitation, Dr. Lenin came face to face with the reality in the villages where the Dalit households lived a humiliating existence subjected to the most inhuman treatment, denied all Rights and ignorant of their constitutional Rights. Their children had no access to quality education although to be educated was a Constitutional Right and provision of Government Primary School within a range of 1 kilometer was a constitutional obligation of the administration. However the Dalit community is not aware of this right or how to ensure its implementation or how to challenge its violation. Similarly the constitutionally guaranteed Political Right to participate in the democratic process is also violated as many of the Dalits are physically prevented from exercising this right either through violence & intimidation or denying them qualification to vote such as name registration in the voters lists, issuing of Ration Cards or photo identity cards etc. Apart from these they face atrocities from the Police and Upper Caste Gangster elements in connivance with corrupt politicians and administrative officials. Lack of education and skill make them fit only for unskilled manual Jobs in the unorganized sector where men, women and children are exposed to all kinds of exploitation.
Dr. Lenin realized that only Awareness, education and unity could get them out of this cycle. His motto ?in order to eliminate disease you have to remove poverty & the only way to achieve that is to organize people to fight for their rights?Thus was born PVCHR or People뭩 Vigilance on Human Right (Manav Adhikar Jan Nigrani Samiti) & Jan Mitra Ganv or Peoples Friendly Village.
The concept of Jan Mitra Ganv or People뭩 Friendly Village aimed at the establishment of a village where the different groups ?Men, Women & Children-are organized into separate specialized committees via PVCHR village committee, youth Committee, Children Committee and women Committees. Each Committee will act as a conduit to disseminate information regarding the Right & interest of its members & of issues related to the interest of each committee Thus the women committee disseminates its women members the importance of birth Registration, immunization and Girl Education.
Today PVCHR is working in 45 villages & 2 slum in Varanasi district running centers all in all catering to hundreds of children, treating education as a fundamental Right to which every child must have access. Apart from Varanasi PVCHR is working in 80 districts of U.P. Bihar, Harahan, and Madhya Prdesh & Chattisgarh.
It has developed a national and international network of Jurist, Journalist, Human Rights groups etc The Sitting Judge of The Constitutional Court of South Africa & Chancellor of the University of Durban is the Patron of PVCHR while the CEO of The Indo- German Society in the Germen City of Remscheid is Picher뭩 Ambassador to Europe.
We feel that he is keeping alive an ancient tradition of our ancient land to oppose inequality; exploitation- a tradition pioneered by lord Buddha, Mahavir, and Guru Gobind Singh & Vivekanand. ?Buddhism raised the slogan of revolt.. The Varna (caste) system also is not permanent---- Buddha openly attacked in hundreds of his sermon- Brahamanical tyranny, the Varna system, the monarchy and inequality. When Buddha that announced his mission in life was liberating humanity from suffering it had a great social significance. All the oppressed and downtrodden- the low caste, the women, the poor, the indebted and the slaves looked upon the Buddha as a great liberator ( Y. Bala Rama Moorthy).
Dr. Lenin has become synonymous with crusade against slavery, exploitation related to human & the child labor concerns?
The abandoning of their caste background for the sake of the Dalit Community by Dr. Lenin. is reminiscent of the path and decision taken by lord Buddha 2500 years ago. They are continuing this Indian tradition of challenging Brahmanism and caste system. They have changed their lifestyle limiting to the barest and basic minimum denying themselves the luxury and comforts so that they can devote themselves for the cause the Dalit community. So he gave up his medical profession and left the comfort of his parent뭩 home.
He has brought light in the life of more than 3500 bonded children, men and women, he has brought justice where there was none and he is showing hope to hundreds of Dalits and setting an example to others.
Dr. Lenin has already received a lot of recognition from several international organizations like ILPS, Amnesty International, Christian Aid, Anti- Slavery International, CRY, Novib, FIAN international, WCRP, Unicef, International Cricket Council, FIFA, World federation of Sporting Goods Industry, Reebok Human Right Foundation, Educational International, Intermon, Childline India, National Institute of Social Defense (India), SPARC (Pakistan) etc for the success he found at the grassroots level social change.
People like Dominique Lapierre ,John Chirac, Canon Michael Wolfe, Justice M.N. Venkatachelliah, Mr.Javed Akhtar (Film Script Writer & Lyricst), Otto Tausig (Austrian Comedian Actor) and many other national and international luminaries have highly appreciated Dr. Lenin뭩 enthusiasm and the grassroots level functioning.
The translation of Dr. Lenin뭩 ideas was in the following form: it has two-pronged system. They Global Advocacy and Grassroots Intervention (G 2) .In Global Advocacy he took up the anti-people polices like WTO, World Bank, IMF, G-7 at international level fully supported the Jubilee 2000 Debt Relief Campaign, Ethical Trade, Who Runs the world etc reporting to Amnesty International of serious issues as well as joining their campaigns from time to time. Also participated in the Global March against child Labor as well as the ILO Convention for worst form of child labor in Geneva, etc.
Grassroots level initiative has three aspects: Campaigning and advocacy, Awareness and Janmitra Gaon. Under Campaign and Advocacy, the main thrust is given to the aspect of campaign against torture and human rights violations. It urges the Government of India and Political Parties to adopt Policies that promote respect for human rights. PVCHR is observing the year 2003 as year against imperialistic Globalization. Under its awareness campaign, PVCHR wants to create a culture where people think in terms of human rights and cvil liberties so that they raise their voice for their own causes.
Janmirtra Gaon is a concept of the people, by the people and for the people. As said earlier, the Janmitra Gaon idea was formed from the experience of successfully taking up child rights and land rights issues. One might reach a policy through practice. However for real grassroots level change, advocacy alone is enough, but one has to come down from policy to practice, which is seriously lacking in the present day society.
PVCHR has a proactive approach through Janmitra Gaon concept. It has also a Pro- childhood and Pro-human right approach.
Dr. Lenin devotes his full time for the cause of human rights through PVCHR Today they are committed to converting their peers to the entrepreneurial way of change making.
Recent Activities.
[1] Forum For Rights of Marginalized. (FRM)- Dr.Lenin and Ms.Shruti formed the FRM to provide a single platform on which the various organizations can come together for collective action.
[2] 26th June03 Benares Convention ?They organized a huge congregation of some five thousand marginalized groups (mostly women) from rural villages and urban slums. Some 13 International Organisations from 8 nations supported this convention.
[3] 26th June Benares Declaration ?The 17 points declaration passed unanimously at the end of the Convention has become an important public statement voicing the general concern of the Indian Public.
[4] Starvation in Uttar Pradesh ?Participated and contributed to a public study and debate on the condition of starvation among the marginalized population in rural villages and urban slums.
[5] 23rd of September2003 Successful in getting the Government to revoke false cases on 24 Dalits belonging to Village Piyari of Varanasi.
[6] Successfully filed a PUBLIC INTREST LITIGATION in the ALLAHABAD HIGH COURT to stop encroachment and destruction of Lahartara Lake associated with life of Sant Kabir
[7] Consulted by the Supreme Court (PUCL Vs.UOI & ORS. WRIT.PET.No:196) in the implementation of its judgment on the Right to Food, in Varanasi and surrounding areas.
[8] Consulted by the Review Committee on POTO (Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance) and its misuse.
[9] Courted arrest in confronting administration during children demonstration at the Pindra Tehsil Head Office.

1) Social Apathy & Feudal Mentality뾆r.Lenin belong to a so-called high Caste 뻙alled Kshastriya but his heart and actions is with the oppressed classes. So his relatives and community discriminated him. But after continuous struggle, his friends and relatives have come to accept and recognize his work and concern.
2) Administration & Police: in July 1996 the Para Military Forces subjected Dr.Lenin to severe beatings with rifle butts while leading a demonstration for School in a Dalit Village.
3) On 25th November 1996 Dr.Lenin younger brother was killed by mafia.
4) In 1997 the Police brought into his Parent뭩 home a dreaded criminal after locking his family members and had him deliberately shot but laid that it had shot him in Police Encounter. This was done to malign Dr.Lenin but the hoax was exposed by the local Media.
5) In 2002 the Police, the Administration in connivance with jealous NGOs manipulated an ex-employee to steal PVCHR뭩 email password and used it send false dirty messages ?in another vain attempt to malign him.


1. Justice Sukumaran ?Rtd.Judge, High Court of Kerela & Bombay.
밒ndia뭩 hope for the future rests in the selfless services of activists who are informed, involved and idealistic. Earth, Earthly 뻦ike the worms, which enrich the land some, are as Churchill put it 밽low ?worms ? They show the way amidst encircling glow. I had the great privilege to spend a few hours with those great missionaries of the new century ?a unique luck; I deem it 밆ated 18.2.2002.

2. Justice Zakaria Mohd. Yacoob , Sitting Judge of the Constitutional Court of South Africa & Chancellor of Durban ?Westville.
?PVCHR does wonderful work under very difficult circumstances. We are proud to be associated with you 뻀ndia & the World need more of such Workers. Good Luck Zak Yacoob & Anu Yacoob. Dated 9.5.2002.

3. Otto Tausig, Austrian Film Actor
?On some occasion I am wearing the T-shirt you gave me for the purpose that people should ask me whose face is it showing. Then I tell them in a country far away from our own there are people like Safdar Hashmi & Dr.Lenin who were and who are fighting for things worth fighting for and we too should work for a better world.?밠y thoughts are with you and my best wishes for the success of your work. It뭩 the same cause you and I are working for. There is hunger, exploitation and disregard of human and child rights all over the world but also a growing understanding that we have to globalize the fight against it.?o:p>

4. Mr.Vishwanath Singh, Regional Secretary, Vigil India Movement ?Dr Lenin is to empower the victims to restore a balance of Power in society between economic and other forces. He is facilitating the participation and increasing the International and National bargaining powers of Poor, of the labor, environmental & other social movements. He protects traditional wisdom & knowledge.Dr.Lenin gives people a sense of their own power. He mobilizes the power that people have in doing so, he teaches the value of united action through real life example, and build the self-confidence of both the organization and individuals in it. He avoids shortcuts that don뭪 build people뭩 powers, such as bringing in lawyer to handle the problem, asking friendly politicians to take care of it or turning it over to a Government Agency.
5. Dominique Lapierre (Author-Freedom at Midnight & City of Joy)& social activist ?/SPAN>The World needs great voices like those of PVCHR shouting for Human Dignity?
6. Summa Josson, a Film Director of Bombay speicalising in Documentary Films on Social issues 밒ndia is on the cross - roads.The future of India lies in the hands of people like you.It makes me feel that there is still some hope left ?o:p>

?B>Position held at present:
{A} Dr.Lenin.
[1]-Dr.Lenin is the Convener of People뭩 vigilance committee on Human Rights (PVCHR)
[2]-Dr.Lenin is Members of the secretariat & executive council, Voice of people (VOP)
(3) Dr.Lenin is Member, editorial board, Combat Law-a human rights magazine of India (4) Director, Janmitra Nyas 뻕 public charitable trust
(5) Founder, Forum on rights of Marginalized. (FRM)
(6) Director, Childline India.

(1) Ashoka fellowship, 2001 by Ashoka Innovators for public, USA
(2) Citation by PMA news agency & press club, Balia, 2000
(3) Citation by Captain Subhash sewa sansthan, Meerut, 1999
(4) Citation by Bharat sewak samaj, 1995
Participation: - (1) Global March against child labor, from Philippines to Malaysia, Spain to Geneva, 1998
(2) Second International Ayurved Conference, Katmandu, Nepal-1991
(3) Participated in the Asian Social Forum 2003,Hyderbad (AP), India & WSF, Mumbai.
(2) PP21 convention held at Kathmandu,1996
Published in: Dr.Lenin has received wide media coverage in local newspapers --Time, Jansatta, Indian express, Times of India, Hindustan Times etc National, local & International Magazines & newspapers.
Publications: Gast: A Quarterly Magazine on Education and other social issues but particularly Poetry by Poet Gyanendra Pati, celebrating the Rights and Struggles of the Marginalized.
Pati: simple one to two page pamphlets on social issues related to the plight and rights of the marginalized. Pathi is the traditional way of disseminating message of social importune.
Poetry In Action: Dr. Lenin has skillfully used Poetry to propagate the plight of the Marginalized people of India and to create awareness in Civil Society. This Poetry has attracted the attention of Intellectuals and youths who have greatly admired them and won them over to his cause.
Thus due to the above reasons and activities The Music Fraternity of Varanasi, find this couple full of Courage, Mobilizing society for positive changes, full of compassion and committed to the kind of ideas that can make a better tomorrow for others. They are putting into action the Philosophy of Dr.Sudarshan Hannumappa that to eliminate diseases you have to remove poverty & the only way to do this is to organize people for their rights.
Address:Dr. Lenin Raghuvansh & Shruti: SA 4/2A, Daulatpur, Varanasi (UP)-221002, India. Telephone: 00-91-542-2586688

Monday, November 28, 2005

DHRMN Welcomes the Understanding of Seven Political Parties Alliance and

Defend Human Rights Movement – Nepal (DHRMN)

DHRMN Welcomes the Understanding of Seven Political Parties Alliance and
CPN (Maoists), and Urged for their Commitment towards Enforcement

November 24, 2005, Kathmandu translated from Nepali statement

We, the Defend Human Rights Movement- Nepal welcome the understanding of November 22, 2005 between the seven political parties and Communist Party of Nepal (Maoists) aiming to establish complete democracy in the country by ending autocracy.

We believe that this understanding demonstrates the positive steps to end an ongoing violent conflict in the country through constituent assembly election, which recognizes the fundamental principles and norms of democracy such as multiparty polity, civil liberties, human rights, rule of law, fundamental rights etc. We are also convinced that this understanding would be instrumental to create trustworthy environment among political forces and ensure sustainable peace by establishing democracy, while it accepts the holding of constituent assembly election after ending autocratic monarchy; the armed Maoist force and the royal army under the supervision of the United Nations or any other reliable international supervision, to conclude the elections in a free and fair manner and accept the result of the elections.

We call upon seven political parties alliance and CPN-Maoists to honestly implement the strategies and norms of this forward moving understanding to resolve nearly 10 years old conflict through peaceful negotiation that ends autocracy and establishes democracy. We also urge with them to compulsorily address towards respect, safeguard and enforcement of human rights and humanitarian laws in any forthcoming political understanding.

On behalf of
National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders

Subodh Raj Pyakurel Dr. Gopal Krishna Siwakoti Shobhakar Budhathoki

Gauri Pradhan Shanta Lal Mulmi Ganga Kasajoo

Monday, November 21, 2005

Weaver and WTO

Varanasi, previously known as Benaras has been a centre of production of handloom silk since centuries. The Varanasi silk fabrics have been eulogized in scriptures and ancient books both in the Hindu as well as in the Buddhist eras. In spite of the flourishing trade, the weaver of dream sarees was and is still working in pathetic conditions and living a life of abject poverty.

The production technology more or less, has also remained ancient-pit type handloom where the weaver sits with his legs in the pit. The textile industry here is synonymous with silk sari industry as more than ninety five percent of the products are silk saris. During the medieval period skilled Muslim weavers from the West Asian countries came to India along with Moguls. These weavers found Varanasi complementing to their art of intricate pattern of weaving and settled there under the patronage of the then Muslim rulers.
The fusion of Hindu design pattern with the Muslim ones aided by the local climate conducive to silk handloom weaving, put Varanasi at the helm of silk weaving activities. The artistic ingenuity of the artisans and the changing market trends has resulted in a great variety of the Banaras silk fabric. Generally the quality and type of silk fabric indicates the weavers' occupational status and artisanship. The better quality and high priced fabric requires greater artisanship, labour and financial investment. No two sarees are the similar in quality, colour combination, design or pattern. As a result, there can be no uniformity in rates, which has become a cause for rampant exploitation.

Being a pilgrimage city it attracted lots of tourists who provided market to the produce. The Varanasi silk saris are characterised by their intricate pattern of weaving and heavy zari art work.
No authoritative survey has been done so far to ascertain the number of looms and the weavers' thereof. According to a survey conducted by the U.P. Handloom Corporation in 1995-96, it reported 75,313 handlooms and 1758 power looms in the district with number of handloom weavers placed at 1,24,832 and 2645 power looms workers. However, as per industry sources, presently the number of looms and the weavers are many times more than the estimates of UP Handloom Corporation.

Impact of globalisation on the Banarasi Saree Sector and wages

The demand of finished sarees has gone down over the years. Since the 1990s’ the labour wages have declined to about half of what they were earlier. The saree quality has gone up, compared to what they were those days. Also, in earlier days, the sarees used to be of 5 metres, but now they are 6 metres, while wages have not shown any commensurate increase. Also, the power looms are snatching the work from the laps of the weavers. Middlemen and Gaddidars are living like parasites on their earnings.

Shopkeepers on the one hand give difficult designs to weavers and on the other claim that there are no buyers for the finished products. Such excuses using the vulnerability of weavers are often used to further tighten the noose on the necks of the weavers, as any cutbacks in number of orders has a crippling effect on their already precarious economic status. Thus weavers assume a greater onus of getting the work. Also they have additional tasks these days, such as cutting of jacard cardboard designs, which was earlier, not their responsibility.

A weaver sits from 8:00 AM till 6:00 PM for 10 to 12 days and earns approximately Rs. 350/- on one saree, which gets produced in this much time. During this period, he takes help for all the Nari, Dharki and Anta filling needed for the job, from his family – primarily the womenfolk in the household, thus reducing them to the status of unpaid workers. Though important, these tasks are not given the status and value that they deserve, and are usually not included when the pricing of the saree / labour wage fixing is done. According to activist and thinker Ms. Muniza Khan of the Gandhian Institute of Studies, Varanasi, “ The plight of women is such that even if they earn Rs.10/- they do not have the right to spend it. They work, trapped in dark hovels like chicken. Their contribution does not have the kind of recognition that it deserves. Their contribution is not accounted for while the product pricing is done. There has been no work done with women, and for any change to happen in the sector, their education, organisation and struggle for their rights will need utmost priority.”

The story of the raw material is no better. As regards the availability of raw silk, it appears that the industry is going through a phase of crisis. There is often an artificial scarcity of raw material created by traders. If a small weaver was to go to the market to buy silk, then it would be difficult for him/her to buy in larger quantities, by way of buying a gathia (bundle)- which normally has 5-6 kilograms of raw silk. The smaller weavers cannot buy in such huge quantities, because they do not have the purchasing power and because they do not have enough business in which the raw silk, if purchased could be used. This indicates that the interventions by the government co-operatives or community cooperatives in helping the weavers to gain easy access to the most important raw material i.e. silk, has been not of much positive consequence, as the small and marginal weavers are left out in the bargain. They also do not have enough money at their disposal to block it by way of purchase of raw silk at the so-called subsidised rates offered by the cooperative. It is apparent that, the whole structure of the co-operatives is to allow the bigger weavers to take the advantage of the subsidy offered.

Bangalore silk is good but expensive. Earlier it was an important raw material, as it used to be available in abundance, and that too at cheap prices. Prior to 1990, the cost of this silk used to be Rs. 100/- per kg. Now it is available at over Rs 1500/- per kg. The entry of the multinationals is doing harm to the sector. Imported Chinese silk is cheaper. Chinese silk, brought in from Nepal, is available at Rs. 1100/- per kg, and hence it has become the choice of most artisans. While multinational players are being given a free hand to operate, potentially weaver friendly institutions such as cooperatives are being allowed to decay, at the cost of the marginalised weaver.

Surat produces artificial silk thread, which is available at a much lower cost. Also, the Banarasi saree designs are being copied and duplicate Banarsi sarees are being produced, using artificial material. Entry of artificial silk has hurt the sector in terms of reduced business. This puts pressure to reduce the cost of the finished Banarasi saree in the market. As the middlemen and shopkeepers do not forsake their profits, the weakest link, i.e. the saree weaver has to bear the brunt, in terms of reduced wages.

The low economic status of the weavers is due to a number of factors. When the product is substandard or the product loses its demand in the market, the weaver has to sell it at a price that may not even cover his labour cost. In the weaving industry, imitation is not valued. The product with a unique design, pattern and texture commands a high price. As soon as the design is copied, the product gets devalued. The weaver has to bear this loss. Change of product invariably involves substantial investment that affects the weavers adversely. Power operated looms also compound the problem, as an electricity connection is not easy to come by. Moreover, continued declared and undeclared power cuts add to the agony.

Migration to other cities / trades

The exploitation in the sector has reached such serious proportions, the many skilled artisans have left weaving and begun to do other work, such as pulling rickshaws, making incense sticks, peeling and selling green chanas (seasonal work), and the women have begun to do domestic labour in the homes of middle class families in their neighbourhood. In addition, weavers are leaving Varanasi and migrating to Surat. This is due to the better status of weavers in that city, which has a better demand for their products and provides better wages for their work. In fact in Surat, many weavers are ironically joining the ‘duplicate’ Banarasi saree manufacturing process, as it is becoming increasingly economically viable to do that. Influx of thousands of ‘unskilled’ workers into weaving from the rural hinterland due to exigencies in their areas coupled with the abandoning of the sector by rare skilled crafts persons, if left unchecked can sound the death knell of the sector itself, thus depriving humankind of one of its finest traditions.


To strengthen the workers groups and improve the lot of unorganised sector workers, especially women, concentrated efforts are needed from multi-stakeholders, including civil society organisations, govt., workers’ unions, media, corporate sector and others.

Given in Table – 1, is the summary of the main problems affecting the Banarasi Saree Weaving Sector. At a glance, we can also understand the problems, the larger issue involved, the affected sections, the perpetrators and some recommendations to deal with the problems. Detailed recommendations follow the table.

Table – 1 Recommendations to deal with main Problems of the Banarasi Saree Sector.

Problem Issue Affected Perpetrator Recommendations
Poor Wages for weavers, No wages to women for tasks appearing ‘menial’ Fair Trade Weavers and their families. • Gaddidars / Master Weaver.
• society at large.
• other traders. • Establishment / revival of trade unions, cooperatives and other workers organisations.
• Campaign on fair trade amongst patrons.
• Portal of weavers for direct access.
• Direct market access mechanisms, such as ‘artisan haats’ at local and National level
Poor Health of weavers and their families • Health and welfare
• Govern-ance. Weavers/ families. Severity of Impact varies across gender / age / occupation • Employers
• Govt. • Establishment of specialised health care mechanisms.
• Crèches and day care centres.
• Preventive and promotive health programmes / awareness generation.
• Framework to study and deal with occupational health issues.
Poor working conditions • Welfare.
• Enforce-ment of labour laws. Weavers – impact varies across gender. • Gaddidar
• Traders. • Establishment / revival of trade unions, cooperatives and other workers organisations.
• Sensitisation of Govt. office(s) especially enforcement wings of labour commissioners office(s).
Inadequate / costly raw material Fair Trade Weavers • International Trade .
• Local Traders.
• Govt. • Establishment of silk depots for weavers.
• Reforms and transparency in licensing mechanisms.
Low dignity of work, non-recognition of contribution of weavers as ‘artisans’ Dignity Weavers and their families. • Society at large.
• Govt.
• Gaddidars and traders.
• Museum at local and National levels, giving history of Banarasi Saree weaving.
• Educational programmes on mass media.
Poor electric supply Governance Weavers and their families. Government. • Establishment / revival of trade unions, cooperatives and other workers organisations and then-
• Sustained petitioning with the concerned dept. – UPSEB.
From Outlook:
Looms Of Doom

A foreign fabric has silenced the looms of the local weavers, reduced them to poverty and killed an art

Raziya Biwi is angry. "My three-year-old son is dying of starvation. My husband lies unconscious beside him. My remaining six children are now beggars. The youngest feeds only on sugar and water as I'm incapable of feeding him." Over the past two years, she and her husband Nurool Haq have done everything from selling her jewellery and a small plot that they owned; the money is gone now and they are starving. "Who knows who will die and who will live?" she ponders miserably.

Raziya and her husband were once the pride of their village. The owner of five looms, he made enough to keep all nine members of his family content. Neighbours recollect how pretty she looked every Id in her best clothes and jewellery. Now she stands in shreds. Nurool is suffering from acute anaemia according to doctors. "But we have no money for the treatment," sighs Raziya. They have been out of business for the last 27 months as there are very few takers for the Varanasi silks they wove for a living.

Three doors away, Mohammed Umair, another weaver, tried being a little more enterprising but to little avail. With no work after his loom owner shut shop and migrated, he began selling his blood. In less than six months, he had sold his blood 13 times. Now suffering from tuberculosis he says, "Sarkar ne to mera khoon bhi kharab kar diya (The government has even contaminated my blood)." Several of Umair's friends from Bajedian village also began selling their blood for cash only to fall afoul of the authorities. "Some doctor leaked the news, we were penalised and the police warned us stating it was illegal," says Rafique, another accomplice.

Others have become even more desperate. In Kotwan village, Ghulam Rasool and Raziya Biwi sold Subhan Ali, their two-month-old son, for Rs 2,000. "At least I knew the buyer—a distant relative who has the means to look after Subhan. The thought that he could feed him was of some consolation," she admits.

Today with their son back at home, the couple earns from a vegetable shop in the village. "No matter what happens, I'm not going back to becoming a weaver," says Ghulam who feels obliged to the government for getting his son back and paying him a grant of Rs 10,000. "This is a stray case where political leaders intervened as the villagers had created a ruckus about the family's dire straits. But no leader looked into the real problem because of which people are now starving to death in almost all villages," says Atique Ansari, general secretary, Weaver's Association, Varanasi.

The weavers' troubles began way back in 1995-1998 when the Deve Gowda government imposed a ban on Chinese silk yarns. The idea was that Varanasi saris would only be woven from silk yarns from Bangalore. Out of habit or because of its superior quality, some weavers started smuggling Chinese yarn into the holy town. Realising that their need for Chinese yarn would only grow, the weavers demanded an ogl (open general license).

A chronic power shortage was also crippling their activity but one of the most telling blows was delivered five years ago when the government allowed the free import of Chinese plain crepe fabrics. "This decision brought the entire business to a standstill. Now most customers prefer crepe silk to the traditional Varanasi silk because of its smooth appearance and cheaper price," explains Rajan Bahal, general secretary of Varanasi Vastra Udyog.
The flaws of Varanasi silk—relating to colour, texture and durability—are not found in Chinese crepe since they are woven in automated looms. "With power availability and government subsidies, the Chinese can afford to sell the finished product at a lower price, giving the traditional Varanasi silk sari tough competition.Chinese silk traders brought cheap yarn to the local market and decided to replicate Varanasi silk by hiring some weavers from Varanasi," explains Atique AnsariHe adds that the middle and lower middle class prefers synthetic saris from Surat at one-tenth the price of a Varanasi silk sari. The continuous tussle between the Bangalore and Karnataka silk lobby as well as government indifference towards import policy has led to this plight.

In fact, the art of weaving these saris now faces extinction. In Mughal times both Hindu concepts and Muslim ideas were fused to create unique aesthetic designs. The weavers weave the basic texture of the sari on handlooms and powerlooms—both cottage industries where the entire family is usually involved. Normally one person weaves while two others work at revolving rings to roll bundles of the yarn. They create a Varanasi speciality yarn motifs.
To create these designs, the artist first draws out the entire concept on a graph paper. He then creates small punch cards through which colour threads are passed at different stage as the cards hang on the sides of the loom. Depending on the design, these cards are paddled in a systematic way so that the right pattern and colours are picked up during the main weaving. For a single design, hundreds of such perforated cards are required. A normal sari takes anywhere from 15 days to six months depending on the complexity of the design.

But today an estimated five lakh weavers and their families in Varanasi district are looking for an alternative. Over half have been forced to take up menial jobs like pulling rickshaws. Several have opened tea stalls and paan shops. Others like Abdul Wahi of Rewri Talab and Abdul Ghani of Maltibagh have closed their flourishing businesses and migrated to Bangalore and Hyderabad where they work in looms and help in dyeing and embroidery work. "At least they are better off, but you need money to migrate and contacts too. Here we are all left to starve and die," says Uma Shankar of Madhiapur village whose two children, nine-year-old Chandan and seven-year-old Malka, are undergoing treatment for malnourishment.

An NGO led by Lenin Raghuvanshi is helping the children. "But how many such cases can we attend to?" asks Lenin. According to his conservative estimates, 19 weavers have died from starvation in the past 24 months.

"When reports of farmers' deaths reach Parliament, immediate action is taken. But when weavers are dying in Varanasi, no voice is heard in Parliament," says Raghuvanshi. The plight of silk sari weavers in Varanasi unfortunately seems to come to the fore only before elections. Once electioneering ends, the promises too fade and the poor weavers are left to fend for themselves. And the cityfolk are left wondering why leaders are so insensitive to one of the oldest arts of the country.
Weavers in UP:
5lacs in Varanasi, 2lacs in Mubarakpur(Azamgarh) in majority.
Other areas:Meerut,Tanda(Ambedkar Nagar),Mau.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

People's SAARC against WTO and SAFTA

South Asian People’s Forum : voice for People’s SAARC

The Convention to form the Peoples SAARC organized on 15-17 January, 2005, in Varanasi, U.P.

It’s Secretariat, The Peoples Forum of South Asia, stated that over a thousand persons were present at the Convention Meeting. Persons from Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka as well as persons from many parts of India participated.

The main driving force behind the delegates was the perceived lack of attention to the marginalized communities by the Heads of State based SAARC. Persons at the Convention were those who are dealing with the problems of the under served and non-privileged in South Asia. They brought the issues of Human Rights and Economic Rights to the forefront of the South Asian agenda.

The meeting was expected to be hectic owing to the large numbers of persons who make mutual contact. The convention organized as follows:
Program Schedule:
15 January 2005:
Inauguration – 11 AM to 2 PM at Gandhi Adhyyan peeth, kashi Vidya peeth, Varanasi.
Inauguration : 15 Jan 2005, 11 A.M.
Venue : Gandhi Adhyayan Peeth, Kashi Vidyapith, Varanasi, India.
Inauguration by : Sarod recital by Pt. Vikash Maharaj, Shahnai by Mumtaz Hussain (Nephew of Bimillah Khan) & Tabla by Prabhash Maharaj.
Silence : Dr. Lenin calls for two minutes silence for Tsunami victims.
Moderator : Moderator Fr. Anand IMS invited by Dr. Lenin.
Speakers are invited: While they come they signed on the banner against communal fascism and imperialism .
Presided by Prof. Dr.D.Prempati
Welcome: Sant Vivek Das,Head preist- kabirchaura Math
Welcome Speech: Prof. Deepak Malik,Director,Gandhi Addyyan peeth.
Janmitra Samman: To Manoj Kumar Singh, Journalist, Gorakhpur. Founder members of People’s Forum, fights against communal imperialism.
To Nandlal, Lok Samiti, Mehendiganj, Varanasi, State coordinator of NAPM, Leader of the agitation against Cocaa Cola’s water Exploitation.
History of People’s SAARC – Dr. Lenin.
1. Subodh Pyakurel, INSEC, (Informal Sector Service Centre) Nepal.
2. Dr. Darin Gunashekar, WIROS LOK (Mankind), (Real Estate Exchange for slum & shanty Dwellers)
3. Nida Ali, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.
Song: Gayega, Gayega, Jamana, Gayega by Prerna kala Manch
4. Sahar Saba, RAWA(Revolutionary Afghanistan Women’s Association)
5. D.P. Kafley, Gen Sec. Peoples Forum for Human Rights, Bhutan.
6. Mr. Arup Rahi, LOKOJ, Bangladesh (Against TMCS)
7. Prof. Mathura Pd. Shreshta, Ex. Minister, Coordinator, Civic Solidarity for Peace, Nepal.
8. Song : Yah sannattta torakar aa.
9. Dr. Joseph Benjamin, Nagpur University.
10. Justice Laxman Prasad Aryal, Former Judge, Supreme Court, Nepal.
Song: Sathiyo Salam.
11. Mr. Surya Pd. Shreshta, Former Chief Election Commissioner, Nepal.
12. Miss. Minal Doshi, SETU, Gujarat.
13. D.B. Sagar, President, Dalit NGOs Federation, Nepal.
Song: Apane Liye Jiye to Kya liye
14. Presidential Address: Dr.D.Prempati
15. Vote of Thanks Prof. M.P. Singh.
Peace Anthem: We shall overcome led by Prerana Kala Manch.
Consultation meeting of core group: 4PM to 8PM at Kamesh Hut Hotel, Varanasi.
16th January 2005: 9 AM to 6PM
Meeting of Core group of South Asian People’s Forum at Kamesh hut Hotel.
Agenda: Future program, organizational structure, Finalization of South Asian Declaration and memorandum for SAARC’s secretary general
From 7PM :Indian classical Music by Vikash Maharaj on Sarod and Prabhash Maharaj on Tabala at Kamesh Hut Hotel
17th January 2005:
9 AM to 12 AM: Ongoing session at Kamesh Hut Hotel.Parallel sessions on 16th Jan.2005: (A) Food Security in South Asia: 10 AM to 4PM :organized by FIAN India,Musahar Vikas Pahal of eastern UP,Rozi Roti Haq Abhiyan,Right to campaign,UP,Venue:Kamesh Hut Hotel,Child right and child participation in South Asia: at Gandhi Adhyyan Peeth, Varanasi. (Contact person: Mr. Kumar bhatarai (CWIN), Ms. Inu Stephen, Child Line India foundationand Ms. Anupam, PVCHR) Time: 10 ARE to 4 PM.Organised by: Childline India Foundation, CRY, CWIN (Nepal)
The objective of conference:-
1) To review the policies and strategies in regard to various issues related to rights of marginalized in south Asia.
2) To workout a plan of action for the next two years for South Asian People’s Forum.
3) To initiate cultural fronts there by strengthening the cultural movement in the South Asia.
Major output:
1) Establishment of South Asian People’s Forum.
2) Memorandum for SAARC (about policies for marginalized).
3) Plan of action for two years.Concept: Establishment of People driven SAARCWith the formal declaration of the “Free Trade” in South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) through the twelfth SAARC Summit. Having been learnt the meaning of the Free Trade through the documents of the summit, is that the trade would be at the center and the Human Being would be at its periphery. It has completely wiped out the importance of humans. Thus the civil society of South Asia has the responsibility to push up the human cause in the trade scenario. It is a well-known fact the South Asian region is most poverty stricken in comparison to the entire world.The summit has also reconstituted the Independent South Asian Commission for Poverty Alleviation (ISACPA), which is commendable step. But this commission, that has the objective to play an advocacy role and set SAARC Development Goals for the next five years does not constitutes of a broader civil society including the weaker section to represent their specific cause, the reconstitution may not have a fallback with the cause of suppressed class. The areas of poverty alleviation, health, environment, education giving due regard to the suggestions of the ISACPA report definitely require the people from the field the questions come from without which, the answer can not be true in their sense.The summit has also appreciated by signing the SAARC Social Charter that puts up the cause of poverty alleviation, population stabilization, women empowerment, health and nutrition, youth mobilization, human resource development and also protection of children. We too appreciate the above cause taken up by through the charter but would like to indicate that the charter despite speaking on several issues misses out a few vital ones. It does not talks about Human Right for marginalized, development and democracy through empowerment in regard to the women and even after talking about child protection the abuse on children has been left out that makes a key issue in South Asia. Trafficking of children is a major issue to be touched very specifically keeping the various laws of SAARC nations by the Charter without which the document purpose would not be complete.The document does talks of the child and women protection against trafficking of against prostitution. It does not specifies the other hazards which are or could be of trafficking for bonded labour or for Camel Jockey that specially includes India and Bangladesh as route for the trafficking. The document also lacks the measures against the threats of organ transplantation, forming a major business boom for traffickers. Also the document ignored the cause of men and their right under the association.As the summit declaration deal with the varied culture of the SAARC nation it speaks of the cultural mosaic. However the underline does not specify the formation of a composite culture with the varied forms of culture and does not even deals with the communal fascism rigging in these very SAARC nations. We demand a clear vision on the issue to culture for it is the identity of any nation and mixture of same shall there be crystal clear and not opaque by any means.It has been observed that conscience has at various stages hindered relations and development of nations and despite attempts an unclear military stand gives an unwanted threat. The topic is same with the SAARC nations who do talk of protection but the military threat and the cold war going between the nations has been ignored from the nations. Any expense on bomb is a worry on many faces and the same investment on creative thing if dwelling smile on millions. The document as it talks of development and protection shall be incomplete if it does not specifies the association’s stand on military operations between the nations as this would continuously bring upon a fear psychosis on human under the big umbrella, pulling down the efforts.Taking examples of Cuba where the military expense if five per cent against fifty five per cent expense on health and education, of it GDP, can not the association put pressure on the SAARC nations to adopt a similar pattern and give boost to people’s health rather then bringing military threat.The fourteenth summit of the association is going to be held in January 2005. There is time for a South Asian People’s Forum to be formed that may take up the burning topics before the next summit begins and pressurize to include the people’s cause in their existing agenda or may modify the present one. It is the responsibility of the people of South Asia to get united on this bigger issue and form a unified force before the January of 2005.The South Asia People’s Forum:” People’s SAARC" held from January 15 to 17, 2005 brought together National and International social activists, intellectuals and secular and democrative forces interested in the preservation of the secular, pluralistic and democratic fabric of the South Asian society. The convention was organized by two Ashoka Fellows, one each Ashoka fellows from India (PVCHR- Dr. Lenin), and Srilanka (Wiros Lokh Institute- Dr. Darin), human right defender from Nepal, Mr. Subodh Raj Pyakurel (INSEC) and cultural activist of Bangladesh,Mr. Arup Rahee . This was a historical convention which resulted in creation of the "South Asian People’s declaration", which we aim to submit to the SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) Summit involving Heads of States of the seven South Asian countries that make up the SAARC, being held in February, 2005.“I was pleased to learn about the January Convention, and appreciate very much the invitation to take part……………….I hope it is successful.”___ Noam Chomasky, Massachute Institute of Technology, Department of Linguistics and philosophy, Cambridge, USA ( delegation of the South Asian People’s forum desiring people based policies for SAARC, (People’s SAARC) met the SAARC Secretariat on 20th Jan., 2005.Ashoka fellow, Dr. Darin Gunesekara of Sri Lanka and Dr. Lenin Raghuvanshi of India, and Mr. Sajay of PVCHR called on Mr. Wijeratne, the Sri Lanka Director at SAARC in Kathmandu.Dr. Gunesekera and Lenin are signatories of the “Colombo Declaration” (See annexure) which preceded the Convention held in Varanasi creating the South Asian People’s Forum (SAPF) and resolving the People’s SAARC memorandum: South Asian People’s Declaration. Human Rights commission of Pakistan, LOKOJ (Bangladesh), People’s forum for Human Rights (Bhutan), Wiros Lokh Institute (Sri Lanka), PVCHR (India) and INSEC (Nepal) are members of working committee of SAPF.They presented Mr. Wijerantne with the memorandum with a request for circulation to the member country Directors. They also handed over to him the original banner of the Child Rights March that was held to inaugurate the Convention in Varanasi. The Marchers and children signed the Banner. These included persons from all of the SAARC countries excepting Tsunami stricken Maldives. The Memorandum is attached and included a statement of Child Rights as considered most pressing amongst Child Rights activists in the SAARC region.The Memorandum highlights the considered opinions and views of over 40 leadings activist groups who assembled in Varanasi. The issues are stated in concise form and are stated as topics. The Forum demands further consideration of these issues.Since the start of SAARC, there has been a need for the voice of the people to be directly heard in the region. And this, SAPF said, was the start. The Forum would be organiasing a rising tide of opinion and views for the development of a people’s SAARC movement. SAPF wanted the politicians and opinion leaders to take note of the rise of a new phenomenon in South Asia. The People’s SAARC, SAPF advised, will be the mainstay of the future of SAARC, not trade arrangements, which have little to say beyond globalisation. But people issues are bigger than that. SAPF advanced that the issues of the future are the Globalisation of sensitivities.Please visit: Asian people's DeclarationThe People’s Vision We, the South Asian People’s Forum, desiring that SAARC embody the aspirations of the People, aver the need for greater efforts for promoting the sovereignty of the People and violence free South Asia through democratic values and structures. We envision a SAARC that encompasses all people living in South Asia and promote greater understanding and equal respect of all people to eliminate discriminations based on gender, creed, caste, ethnicity and color.We also insist on declaring South Asia as nuclear free zone.Our MissionWe promote peace and understanding of disputes, and efforts for settling them amicably at the popular level. We firmly demand urgent and complete de-nuclearization of South Asia. We uphold social democracy, secular values, and economic equity and envision sustainable development.We advocate greater efforts to prevent environmental degradation, and optimum and equitable utilization of resources for the benefit of the people, providing them adequate space to influence and participate in decisions on resource use and management.We endorse the inalienable right of the People of South Asia to basic needs including food, clothing, shelter, health, education, social security and productive work. We advocate people to people communication facilities and an end to travel restrictions.Major concernsDemocracyWe cherish and uphold the Rule of Law, sovereignty of the people, a system of governance that ensures devolution of power, People’s right to self-rule and control over resources. We advocate full independence of the judiciary, adhering to internationally recognized values and principles. Pro-people lawmaking has to be participatory, representative and fully transparent.We believe that People have sovereign rights to take decisions on matters concerning their lives, and urge periodic review of all international commitments and national laws to enable people to exercise sovereignty. We maintain that governance improvements have to begin and end with the People and that empowerment can result only when power is devolved through effective structural changes.We also maintain that existing social, economic and political imbalances hinder nation building and that the legislature, executive and the judiciary must be fully inclusive and accountable to the People.We believe People are the real owners of resources and support mechanisms to make them rightful owners of resources through systems that ensure collective ownership and responsibility. We uphold the People’s right to information through participation in decision-making and governance.We believe that internal and external displacement is caused by political, social and developmental factors and any attempt to end displacement should begin with addressing the root causes. We assert that refugees are sovereign people with sovereign identities and they need to be provided guarantees of protection, dignity and access to basic services until final resolution and/ or repatriation.We are concerned by the increase in human trafficking (including children, women and marginalized communities) in the region and call for receiving countries to take on responsibility for repatriation and compensation of the victims.DiscriminationWe affirm that discrimination based on gender, caste, creed, and ethnicity and differently able is a major obstacle to meaningful participation of People.We endorse patriarchy-free South Asia, and support the individual’s right to self-determination and development and uphold their duty to national integration.We resolve for an immediate and effective end to untouchability, the worst form of discrimination and demand interventions as follows:Ø Programs for the uplift of the Dalits and mechanisms to empower them for their rights.Ø Reservations, in public as well as the private sector, to ensure participation of all at all levels starting from primary schooling and across all spheres of life.Ø Reservations to enable at least 33% representation of women (including Dalits) in all spheres of private and public life and an end to all forms of discrimination against women. Ø Discrimination to be considered a real life problem.Ø Review of existing laws and modifications to incorporate the implementation of international instruments.Ø Equal respect for religious, ethnic and cultural minorities.We appreciate the changes being discussed for the uplift of women by Islamic groups and will provide support to encourage and facilitate further changes. We ask for inclusion of rights and security concerns of migrant workers in the SAARC Social Charter.Food sovereigntyWe believe the right to food is a fundamental right and must be assured through guarantees to equality in work, justice and uniform minimum wages, and land entitlement.We recommend that relief and aid should be culturally sensitive and value adding, and uphold that hunger and starvation are unacceptable.Globalization and International Finance and TradeWe believe the existing policies of multilateral aid and trade organizations are anti-people and perpetuate unemployment, poverty and inequalities.We advocate that all aid and trade agreements and instruments be subject to public scrutiny to ensure transparency and accountability.We uphold the need for collective SAARC representation and uniform standards for negotiations on aid and trade instruments and the formulation of a common social responsibility standard to govern FDI.We oppose privatization, particularly that of social infrastructure.We oppose Foreign Direct Investment without effective social controls and strongly endorse the promotion of small and medium enterprises through people’s markets.We believe the World Trade Organization is not ratified by the people and advocates only freedom of capital, and ask SAARC to work towards the democratization of the WTO through inclusion of civil society organizations in negotiations.We ask SAARC to move towards the creation of an economic community to suit the people’s interest and step back from free trade envisaged under the SAFTA, which is an extension of the WTO model.We believe that the existing ownership of intellectual property and laws governing violations are flawed and advocate stiff penalties for those infringing into the traditional knowledge and services belonging to developing countries.Child rightsWe uphold the Right of the Child as defined by the Convention on the Rights of the Child and believe the child is an integral part of society, has the potential to be agents of social change and all children have the right to participate in issues concerning them and be heard.We believe a child’s right to survival and health is of paramount importance to the progress of the country, and maintain that the child’s right to development be upheld through free and compulsory education, including vocational training, and recreation without discrimination for all and in a child-friendly environment.We demand that a child’s right to protection be upheld through the abolition of child labor, abusive forms of punishment and all forms of discrimination with special focus on differently-abled children.We demand that the juvenile justice system be child friendly and be strictly implemented in the region.We demand immediate resolution of existing social, cultural, economic and political factors that promote the trafficking of children.We advocate areas where children frequent be declared zones of peace to enable them to grow in peaceful and secure environments.We oppose involvement of children in all forms of violent conflicts.Varanasi, 17 Jan. 2005 Date: 17-1-2005 Resolutions Resolution-1The Gandhian Institute of Studies, Varanasi, established by Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan, is one of the premier Social Science Research Institutions of India, which aims at linking people’s movements with social sciences. This Institute has been struggling against the regressive action of the former central government, which stopped its grants and locked the Institute offices. Now the Institute is returning to its normal function in the camp office with the positive efforts made by the present central government. However main building of office, guesthouse, etc. are still locked, which is hampering research and other activities of the Institute. We, from South Asia People’s Forum appeal central government of India and SAARC countries to stop such regressive action against democratic public institutions and demand immediate restoration of normal functioning of the institute in the interest of the people. Resolution-2Women in Afghanistan have been victims of extreme and systematic discrimination over the years having been denied even the most basic of rights. Revolutionary Association for Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) has been working for the rights of millions of these invisible Afghagan women, whose voices have been stifled while being subjected to inhumane treatment behind closed doors. RAWA’S courage under these difficult circumstances is commendable and we the South Asia People’s Forum would like to extend our full support to their cause of democracy and women rights. We the members also express strong solidarity with RAWA’s movement for a secular and democratic Afghanistan. We also like to draw the attention of the Afghanistan Government to ensure the security and free movement of RAWA activists. Resolution-3Military rule in Pakistan has established a controlled democracy which is a contradiction in it self. We members of South Asia People’s Forum demand that as guaranteed by the constitution of Pakistan "Principles of democracy” are upheld and the state should only be allowed to exercise its powers through the representatives chosen by the people through a free fair electoral process.We also recommend that the Oath of Judges under the Provisional Constitution Order (PCO) should be termed unconstitutional and Judges should take fresh Oath in order for the judiciary to be independent. We also demand that Politics and Religion should be separated only a secular state can only guarantee rights of all the minorities. South Asia People’s Forum also raises its voice against existing discriminatory laws against women and minorities, which should be repealed. International instruments ratified by the government (CEDAW & CRC) are respected and implemented in policies for the women and children.Resolution-4We the members of the South Asia People’s Forum urge the Indian Government to actively co-operate and assist in solving the Bhutanese Refugee problem as Bhutan’s Foreign and Defense Policy are in India’s hands. We also demand that repatriation of all Bhutanese Refugees with safety, security, dignity and honor to their original home state. Resolution-5We the members of South Asia People’s Forum condemn the attempts to privatization of water, water linking and international water laws in the region and instead declare that water are declared a common human resource in every region. Resolution-6Despite the very bad experience of the Asian Crisis and collapse in ASEAN affecting all the workers and poor adversely SAARC Nations have been following the same policies of absolute free capital markets.So we the members of South Asia People’s Forum declared that SAARC Nations should foster people’s stock exchanges and governments ensure that freedom in capital market does not lead to a collapse due to international financial manipulations.Resolution-7Pepsi and Coca-Cola bottling is a threat to under ground water resources which belong to the common people. 6 liters of water is required for producing 1 liter of Coca-Cola and Pepsi cola. Such drinks are not healthy. The bottling has displaced a large number of self-employed people and village-based industries.Therefore the member of South Asia People’s Forum appeal to all concerned to boycott Coca-Cola, Pepsi Cola and other related drinks.Comment of peoples and organization:The program and the perspective of People's SAARC sound so pertinent For the challenges confronting us all within the emergent world-order that I Wish it had been possible for me to attend the event. Unfortunately, I am not Be able to do so.The direct orientation part of the program I am directing in Kathmandu Will conclude in November and I must be back in Austria, where my wife Works, to complete several writing assignments by their deadlines. It seems that I may not be able to return to India in January.However, you have my best wishes for the event and I hope its agenda will bring solidarity strong enough for its success.Ram Narayan Kumar, Director, Human Rights and Peace Studies ProgrammeSouth Asia Forum for Human Rights
Thanks very much for your invitation to attend the alternative SAARC next January. Unfortunately I already have other commitments at that time, so I won't be able to attend. Please convey my greetings to Dr Lenin and others in the PVCHR.Mike Dottridge,UK
It would like to thank you for the invitation. I congratulate for taking-up this task. I am sorry to inform you my inability to attend as I have already have another commitment on that day. But, I will see if I can change my dates and inform you within the next couple of days.N Paul Divakar, Chairperson,NCDHR
I am acknowledging your e-mail inviting the Martin Kelsey and staff of Save the Children to the convention on "People's SAARC" held from 15th to 17th January 2005 in Varanasi.
Of behalf of Brian Heidel, our current Programme Director (who has replaced Martin Kelsey) I write mainly to convey his thanks for inviting him, and wish to inform you that he is unable to attend the above event. He has also asked me to wish you all success at this forthcoming event. Annette Raphael, Save the Children UK, India
I appreciate your initiative. The hegemony of G8 country is creating imbalance
In all walk off life of developing country in this context regional progressive forces should be unite and struggle against the financial capital.
I am forwarding the communication below that we received from PVCHR. They would like some input on the Colombo Declaration. I would like to kindly request you if you could send your views to
Roberto Wohlgemuth Jarrín,Civil Society Watch Associate,CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation,Johannesburg, South AfricaI would be honoured to be the guest at the convention as it is a subject that is very close to my heart and I would learn greatly from the Interactions there, but it is a little difficult for me to commit as of Now. I would be in better position to know my schedule by the first week of November. Please let me know what is the latest you need to know.Thank you for the invitation and look forward to hearing from you.Nandita Das,film actressThank you for inviting me to this most worthwhile program. I will do my best to be present there. Daya ,CanadaThank you very much for your invitation to attend this People's SAARC meeting in Varanasi. Varanasi is one major city in South Asia I would Dearly love to visit. More importantly, I, myself, am quite involved in Various SAARC peoples' networks and am very supportive of your event. I did participate in the People's Summit held in Colombo previously. However, am in no position financially to pay for either my air travel or my Subsistence costs in order to attend this programme. For this reason, I must regretfully decline your kind invitation. My best wishes for the success of this gathering.Lakshman Gunasekara.(editor-Sunday observer)Many thanks for the invitation. I would like to Participate in the conference and speak on why I believe that people's saarc idea must be grounded on people's aspirations.Gautam NavlakhaGreetings from Dalit Foundation! Thank you for the invitation.I confirms my participation. Can you send me? The back ground papers regarding the initiatives.Santosh
Thanks for inviting me. I would have loved to join you except that I have prior engagements those days. Asma Jahangir,Pakistan
Please refer to your mail dated 13 October 2004 inviting the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) to the Convention on the People’s SAARC that you intend to host in Varanasi, India on 15-17 January 2005.
While we thank you for your kind invitation to the SAARC Secretariat, we have to express our inability to attend the Convention.
We wish the Convention every success. Q.A.M.A. Rahim,SAARC Secretary-GeneralThis is to express my solidarity with and good wishes for the success of Peoples' SARC in Jan.05 at Varanasi. The issues you are engaged with are of immediate concern and long-term consequences. The sub-continent badly needs peace to bring a better life for its peoples, as it does need to escape from the depredations following upon the privatization-liberalisation-globalisation regime, which is another name for brutal neo-colonisation and militaristic imperialism. I.K.Shukla, Los Angeles, USAMuch as I desire to come to the Peoples' SAARC, I truly regret to say that my teaching schedule would not permit me any absence during the second Week of January. My bad luck. Perhaps another time.Nayyar,Pakistan
I welcome the hoding of People's SAARC which I shall attend to promote human rights regional instruments.Iqbal A. Ansari Great initiative, we are facing same problem at the SAARC level like hunger,poverty,unemployment,fudalism&danger of communalism etc.Exploitation by World Bank & IMF is increasing day by day under the leadership of Imperialism.I hope this assembly will do help to develop unity & struggle against these challenges among the people of SARC country.Ambarish Rai,National Organiser,NAFREForum Asia will be very much glad to be a part in this initiative. We look forward to the dates being finalised. Second week of January 2005 will be preferable as in the last week of December and first week of January; Forum Asia gives annual holiday to its staff. Looking forward to hear more from your end. Sanjay Gathia,Thailand
I forwarded your letter to one of our executive member Mr. Hamid Ansari. I am forwarding his comment. Now it is self explanatory that INSEC strongly supports and backs your idea.
Please convey us for our further role. I am now going to circulate this document within our likeminded friends in Nepal. Subodh R. Pyakurel,Chaiperson,INSEC,NepalDr.Lenin’s idea to organise a conference in North India for creating a comprehensive position and action plan where partiticipants may use the Colombo declaration as a base.The proposed conference is based on sound reasons which will help form People"s SAARC.The fourteenth Summit of SAARC nations is going to be held in January 2005.The proposed conference of Dr.Lenin is timely and can generate information which can be used for pressurising the participating SAARC nations for including burning issues of poor people in their existing agenda or may modify the present one.It is the responsibility of the people of South Asia to get united on the bigger issues and form a unified people"s force before January 2005.I strongly support Dr.Lenin"s idea for the conference..and highly recommend that INSEC should participate.Hamid Ansari,INSEC,Nepal
If possible I would like to join the upcoming meet... Nice to learn of the initiatives. Fayaz,PakistanI have seen your note. There is nomention democratic nd human rights and civil liberties in it. In SAARC countries, there are emocracies like in Pakistan and Nepal, the grip of communal thinking is strong, and an arms race continues. The udiciary, the Media and the organisations of the working people are not really free and independent. Together with the economic rights of the people and their need for refom from economic exploitation,issues of social equality and democratic freedoms need to be addressed. Also, concentration of power. Suendra Mohan, thinker, India
Thank you for this mail and for your invitation. I will try to attend this important meeting.Jebra Ram Muchahary,Chief President,Indian Confederation of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples (ICITP)
Thank you very much for the invitation for people's SAARC, a timely initiative. There would be a similar SAARC people's gathering in Dhaka coinciding with the SAARC Summit, another conference in Patiyala and World Social Forum in Brazil. I would let you know soon whethr I or anyboldy else from our organization would participate at the People's SAARC. We do not want to miss this opportunity of South Asian scholars gathering under your able leadership Munir. Shafqat ,Development Journalist/Researcher,President,Journalists for Democracy and Human Rights (JDHR) Pakistan, a member of South Asia watch on Trade<>wrote:
Thank you for your invitation to us and your initiative taken in lieu of forming 'PEOPLE'S SAARC' to address the issues of vital concern to the poor and hunted people of south east Asia and are being ignored regardless of their cries and complaints for justice. It is convenient on our part to attend the said programme scheduled for Jan. 15-17, 2005 at Varanasi, UP, India from people's level. We strongly support this idea of organizing the conference to form a united voice. It is indeed a genuine need and responsibility of the peoples of our region to do this when the SAARC SUMMIT formed and led by the Heads of the states fails to work to the need and expectation of the people's in the member states.
Bhutan being in the same region and a member state of SAARC and given the prevalent of human rights and political crisis with long drawn refugee issue, it is important for the Bhutanese people to actively participate in the conference of this level. This idea of forming SAARC at people's level has been almost late. This united forum could study and research the problems of our region or respective states and find ways to resolve the emerged and emerging unresolved problems jointly and justly.
Bala Ram Poudyal, Acting President, BHUTAN PWEOPLES' PARTY
Greetings and best wishes for your appropriate initiative. Angikar Bangladesh, a social movement organization working on Rights-Development-Governance RDG issues, lends its full support to the initiative.We like to send at least a 10 member delegation to the Peoples SAARC conference to be held in Varanasi in January, 2005. The delegation comprises eminent Rights activist, journalist, cultural personalities and academics. We all are for a non-communal, truly pro-people South Asia, attaining which has been a Himalayan task.' We Shall Overcome' is our eternal song for our continuing relentless journey towards equity. It will be nice of you, if you reply at the earliest. Muhammad Hilaluddin.Chief Director, Angikar Bangladesh.Thank you for taking this initiative and inviting me to participate in the meeting to be held at Varanasi in mid January. I fully endorse the concerns expressed regarding the direction in which the SAARC movement is going. Considering the conditions in which the countries of the region are placed, it is counterproductive to focus so exclusively on economic and trade issues. The Social Charter adopted into eh last summit does not go far enough in reshaping the agenda. Also very little follow up is done on these dimensions. One of the most fundamental problems facing the region is the low levels of educational development. South Asia has the largest number and proportion of illiterates and out-of-school children in the world. But this has never been the main concern deliberated upon in nay summit. I believe it is such issue of social concern that should engage the political leadership of the region In a proactive manner; not be mere led in a reactive fashion by the compulsions of liberalization and globalization in the economic spheres. I hope to get a more detailed agenda for the proposed meting at Varanasi in January so that I could attend the meeting at least for one day. I could share my views on the situation of basic educiaont in the region and the direction in which we have to move together. Govinda, Professor R.Govinda, National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration, New Delhi.Thank you for your great initiative. It is very sad thing for us that our regional platform SA ARC is only in paper. In contrary the other regional organizations like ASEAN, EU are playing very effective role. Yes definitely in terms of trade and business, in some extent there are also so many initiatives to make them people centered. In that respect, the Colombo declaration and your initiative to mobilize grass roots level activism is very important. I do strongly appreciate this initiative and I want to be with this. Yes, I am very much interested to participate the conference."sayeed ahmad"
Letter from Ms. Shirin Ebadi, Iran (Nobel Laureate):
To whom this may concern,
Following your kind invitation for Ms. Ebadi to be the chief guest at the peoples SAARC, Ms. Ebadi regretfully cannot accept as she has prior obligations to fulfill.
Ms. Ebadi sends her best wishes for Peoples SAARC, and hopes to be able to attend future conventions.Sara Akbari
Several prominent personalities, citizens & group like FIAN International,HIVOS,NAFRE,Mr. D. Prempati, Daya R. Varma President of CERAS (South Asia Research and Resource Center), Mani mala,Mr. Sandeep Pandey (Ramon Magsaysay laureate),Sant Vivek das,film actress Nandita Das,INSEC (Nepal),Wiros Academy (Srilanka),Socialist thinker Surendra Mohan, Ram Narayan Kumar, Director, Human Rights and Peace Studies Programme,South Asia Forum for Human Rights, Mike Dottridge (UK),N Paul Divakar ,Brian Heidel -Programme Director, Save the Children, Civil Society Watch, Lakshman Gunasekara(editor of Sunday Observer), Gautam Navlakha(editorial consultant of EPW), Santosh-Dalit Foundation,Asma Jahangir(Pakistan),Prakash Louis-Executive Director,Indian Social Institute, I.K.Shukla, Los Angeles, USA, RAWA (Afganistan),Nayyar(Pakistan),Iqbal Ansari,Henri Tiphagne, Shahid Fiaz(Karachi), DR. LEO REBELLO,World Peace Envoy, Bombay D.P.Kafley,General Secretary (Internal), PFHRB,D.R.Kaarthikeyan (ex-Director, CBI & NHRC), house right activist Indu prakash,NACDOR, sayeed ahmad (Bangladesh),Forum Asia (Thailand), Jebra Ram Muchahary(Chief President,Indian Confederation of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples), Fr. Xavier Manjooran, SJ, Ilina sen, Rikke Nöhrlind,Coordinator-International Dalit Solidarity, Aloysius sj-Program Director,Dept. of Advocacy Research & Human Rights Education,( Günther Rautz, manu alphonse,Director, Social Watch – Tamilnadu, D. Buutveld Buth,secretary,Alliance 2015, arup rahee,LOKOJ Bangladesh, Kumar Bhattarai,CWIN- Nepal, Kumi Naidoo,Secretary General & CEO,CIVICUS, Bala Ram Poudyal, Acting President ,BHUTAN PWEOPLES' PARTY, Muhammad Hilaluddin-Chief Director, Angikar Bangladesh , N Paul Divakar and several others have extended their wholehearted support to the programme.
COLOMBO DECLARATION:Let’s begin “Globalisation of Sensitivities” in South Asia.South Asia has the world’s most populous youthful growing set of communities. These people are poor and rural by global standards. Globalisation has been “hollowing out” the more advanced areas in this region. Wages in the region’s globalised workplaces are declining. (SriLanka’s export garments workers’ monthly wages have fallen from USD50 to USD30 between 1983 and 2003, a high growth period for this industry.) Isn’t it time we organise for decent Social living for our people. A SAARC for what? Global capital or global people?Our stand is for our regional countries :1. To develop certain common standards and fronts in dealings with Capital Movements and ownership of large Companies 2. To develop common standards and fronts in dealings with the agents of the global system as donors and World Bank/ IMF3. To develop common standards of decency of workplace and treatment of workers4. To develop common standards of minimum wages5. To develop common standards of decent housing and social infrastructure for all.Our Campaign is to create and promote, within our regional countries, a grass roots level activism of direct action including:1. Creating awareness of the World Bank/ Donors/ State Ministries/ Elite Corporate & Professionals nexus which is the Complex that is causing our problems and economic distortions2. Creating actions that challenge and overcome this Capital Using Complex in simple activities as housing or agricultural development in a way that is developmental and creates the participation of the people in the exact operations of Capital and Prices in the economy.3. Creating public demands for a People driven SAARC. Dr Lenin Raghuvanshi Dr Darin C GunesekeraPVCHR Wiros Lokh InstituteVaranasi, India Colombo, SriLanka. 30 May 2004
Food security in south Asia
“Food is not a moral entitlement, but a fundamental right”
Food Security in South Asia is a delicate matter because south Asian countries comprise the bulk of the poor nations in the global map. Moreover the people insensitive policies promoted by the Governments, of the South Asian nation, has added up to the vow’s .The incoming of globalization, free trade policies, patenting, acceptance of the genetically modified food has also given a serious blow, to the traditional food grains varieties and species in these region.

The discussion of food insecurity in South Asia was one of the concerns of discussion in the ongoing sessions of the People’s SAARC, Varanasi due to the advocacy of Mr. ashok kumar Sinha of actionaid . The discussion was organized by FIAN India,Musahar Vikas Pahal of eastern UP,Rozi Roti Haq Abhiyan,Right to campaign,UP and moderated by Mr.Sanjay Rai of FIAN International India and was leaded by Ms. Bindu Gramya,Varanasi(U.P)India. The other members who played an active role I the discussion were Dr.Rajkumar Rawat,Shri Jawahar Singh,Ms.Rajkumari Gandhi,Mr.Satya rakish Dev Pandey,Shri Premnath Gupta,Shri avadh Biharii Gautam,Shri Raju Sarathi,Shri Vibhuti Chauhan,Mr.Ashok Sinha,Dr.Niti Bhai,Mr.Rahul Kumar,Mr.Narendra Mishra,Manual scavenger.Smita Khanijoe,Mr.AjayKumar,Mr.Manoj Kumar Singh,. Ms.Sadhna, Mr.S.Banerjee, Mr.T.K.Basu, Mr.Teerth Raj Mitra, Mr.RajkumarRawat,Mr.RamJiJaiswal,Mr.PratapSinha,Mr.Kalpana Patel,Professor MathuraPrasad,Mr.SanjaySrivastava,Ms.Santawana Srivastawa,Mr.Ashok Chaudhary, Ms.Rachna Grover .The discussion started with Mr.Sanjay Rai briefing on the getting together of People SAARC, the food insecurity existing in the South Asia, vision of People’s SAARC in combating the issues. The delegates strongly agreed on the fact that the food insecurity arises mainly due to:
Ä Inequitable Distribution of natural resources particularly lands, water and forests.
Ä Technological options promoted by the government that makes poor farmers vulnerable.
Ä In efficient and Corrupt Public Distribution System.
Inequitable Distribution of Natural Resources particularly land, water and forests: Adding up to the point the delegates shared that, International water laws, channelising and Privatization of the water resources has controlled the access of the community o this natural resource as a result of which the communities whose major livelihood was aqua dependent are facing a setback, even this is having a negative effect on the trade through water as heavy duties and fines are imposed on crossing the water boundaries. Most of the South Asian Nations the economy is dependent on trade through water and most of its population depends on water resources for livelihood.
The acquisition of land, that once belonged to the Adivasis- forest saviors, by the Governments of the various countries of the South Asian Sub Continent, has again put into the question, the control of the natives on this resource .As a result of this the tribal are facing tremendous food insecurity, livelihood problems. The discussion also unveiled the politics involved land entitlements, which is still the property of the powerful (feudal lords, etc.)
The panel agreed upon that this has led to the violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Right, Article 25-1 that emphasizes that every individual as the right to a standard of living adequate for health and well being of him/herself and of her/his family. The term ‘adequate standard of living’ includes food clothing, housing, medical care and necessary social services.
Technological options promoted by the government that makes poor farmers vulnerable: The panel discussed that it is an accepted fact that we cannot ignore the market demand, adopt a stagnant approach, and be against globalization. But the need has aroused that the international trade policies should be people sensitive there in order to support the top to bottom approach it must support the bottom -up approach. The mechanization of the traditional methods of farming has rendered many of our marginal farmers and the agricultural labourers jobless, which has aroused food insecurity issues, hunger and starvation deaths among the community.
The government encouraging the trading of genetically modified food has also effected socially, culturally and economically all the strata of the society. The whole of the south Asian countries are greatly influenced, as a result of which the youth is consuming the junk food (processed potatoes, rice etc.), which has given a severe blow to the traditional food products grown in the south Asian countries. Even the globalization has also to a large extent affected the taste of the Middle or the higher income group, which are now more comfortable in consuming the processed and packed food like potato chips, wafers, most of the companies which are manufacturing these product are foreign based. This was the serious concern shown by the participants present from various South Asian Countries.
Inefficient and Corrupt Public Distribution System: -This is the serious problem that is prevalent in India. In other south Asian Countries it was discussed by the representatives, that there do not exist PDS, but they do have Community Welfare Outlets in which the grains are provided by the government and people can procure the food grain at a cheaper price (Same as Fair Price Shops in India). The problems and shortcomings of all these system were almost the same:
§ The grain provided through this system is not value added.
§ There are a lot of discrepancies occurring in the PDS, as the food grains are disbursed through the involvement of Government department, it is seen that the corruption exist at all the level (i.e. village, block, district, state). This was shared by the activist working at the grass-roots level in different parts of India (Ms.Bindu, Gramya, Varanasi,Mr.Manoj Singh, Gorakhpur, Shri.Vibhuti Chauha, Kushinagar, Mr.Sanjay Rai,Rozi Roti Haque Abhiyaan.).
§ It came out during the discussion are all the schemes which are being initiated in different part of the South Asian continent are insensitive towards the service providers as a result of which corruption exist. If an insight of the corruption were taken would be clear that the lower level is involved in corruption because it has to satisfy the upper level corruption etc. and this is a vicious cycle.
Interventions included
It was supported by the panel during the discussion that the food insecurity problem can be dealt to some extend if the approach comprised of:
§ Demonstration of good practices, especially in tribal and dalits communities of the south Asian countries. Relief and rehabilitation programmes in drought and chronic hunger situation should be carried out. Practices such as setting up of grain banks during food insecurity months should be encouraged, wasteland development programmes should be implemented and community caring for the destitute families should be encouraged. Promotion of plantation of trees, whose products would be used by the community for its livelihood etc. should be encouraged.
§ Promotion of sustainable agriculture and community friendly agricultural practices like Organic Farming, discouraging of genetically modified food grains, promotion of drought resistant should be encouraged along with the training in value added agricultural products.
§ Organisation of communities to understands the systematic denial of their rights. People are encouraged to actively influence the international, national, state laws policies and programmes, so that they can assert and get their rights of livelihood and food security which should be in synthesis with their right to information so that they are people sensitive
§ Peoples' participation in Poverty Assessments and Monitoring of the various schemes initiated and implemented by the government in South Asian countries, so as to encourage democracy. This would in future help the designers to formulate more efficient and effective programmes and policies, which are people sensitive.
§ Support to people and advocacy groups working for a Right to Food, Right to livelihood by creating awareness, organizing people to enable them to assert their rights and conducting research and analysis to support work on advocacy.
Thus the house agreed upon:
Food SovereigntyWe believe the right to food is a fundamental right and must be assured through guarantees to equality in work, justice and uniform minimum wages, and land entitlement. We recommend that relief and aid should be culturally sensitive and value adding, and uphold that hunger and starvation are unacceptable.

Details of the Participants on Food Security
Organisation Name & Address
Dr.Rajkumar Rawat
Arjun Vikas Samiti,Ysufpur,Gazipur,U.P
Jawahar Singh
Inquallab Samiti,Dilawalpur,Gazipur,U.P
Rajkumari Gamdhi
Pratigya Training Centre,Chitwada,Baliya
Satya Prakash Dev Pande
Right To food Campaign U.P,Sonebhadra
Premnath Gupta
Parivartan Sansthan, Sameera ,Gazipur
Avadh Bihari Gautam
Arjuk Vikas Samiti,Yusufpur.Gazipur,U.P
Raju Sarathi
Bharatiya Jan Sewa Aashram,Jaunpur,U.P
Vibhuti Prasad Chauhan
Musahaar Vikas Pahal,Kushinagar,U.P
Ashok Kumar Sinha
ActionAid India,Lucknow
Dr.Niti Bhai
Lok Chetna Samiti
Rahul Kumar
Narendra Mishra
People's Forum,Gorakhpur
Smita Khanijoe
World Food Programme
Ajay Kumar
Musahaar Vikas pahal,Maharajganj
Manoj Kumar Singh
Peoples Forum,Gorakhpur
Bindu Singh
Lok Chetna Samiti
Sanjay Kumar Rai
Teerth Raj Mitra
Bharatiya Jan Sewa Aashram,Jaunpur
Bharatiya Jan Sewa Aashram,Jaunpur
Rajkapur Rawat
Swatchadhaar kalyan samiti,Gazipur,U.P
Ram Ji Jaiswal
Human Development Trust,Gazipur,U.P.
Pratap Sinha
Social Work Unit,Banaras Hindu University
Kalpana Patel
AAJ,local media,Banaras
Professor Mathura Prasad
Cinc Solidarity for Peace
Sanjay Srivastave
Right to food Campaign,Padrauna,U.P
Santwana Srivastava
Ashok Chaudhary
People's Forum,Gorakhpur
Rachna Grover
Right to Food Campaign U.P.

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Future Programmes.
The working committee has decided on the following activities:- 1) Training 2) Workshops 3) Seminar 4) Research 5) Documentation 6) Monitoring 7) Fact finding 8) Networking 9) Action Alert 10) Voice of marginalised 12) Mass mobilization & campaign.(details of future program will be decided after one month.)