Monday, December 27, 2010

Reality of Education at ground:just a sharing for debate

Imparting Elementary Education to the poor children with the help of Sir Dorabji Tata Trust: A monitoring report for the month of July, 2010

                                        -Shiv Prasad Singh[i]

   If two systems, public and private, are allowed to go parallel in a country, one is destined to be defunctuous or even disappear. It is ironic but true that the same is happening in India at present. It is being widely experienced in public education and health system across the country. The Schools and hospitals run by the government is becoming defunct day by day and multiplying the miseries of millions of common people as they can not afford to send their children in private English medium schools.

Economic liberalization and privatization has given rise to continuous series of scams which have taken shape of rising tides, and which seem to engulf even the essential necessities of life of a common man, earned by their inhumanly hard labor. A student of history can easily remember the mode of primitive accumulation that gave rise to infinite atrocities, sufferings, miseries and massive marginalization of millions in Europe later in other parts of the globe at the advent of capitalism. In this era of economic liberalization what we experience in the forms of scams, involving millions of millions of rupees, is nothing but a new form of the same primitive accumulation.

The Indian population, that is grinding and groaning under extreme exploitation, poverty and marginalization, exceeds the population living in poverty in whole of African continent. In such a scenario after more than 60 years of independence, Indian government has passed the Right to Education Bill to ensure the elementary education for all children. In the wake of privatization, at present Right to Education is nothing but a cruel joke against the millions of innocent children whose parents are poor. It is cruel joke because as I have earlier mentioned that government schools have become totally defunct owing to the lack of even minimum infrastructure and skilled teachers. Government agencies and media are boasting it as a big achievement but they do not talk about the necessary infrastructure and resources required to ensure elementary education for all children.

Tata family a big and a leading industrialist in the country has funded for the elementary education of children of age group 3-5 years in the name of Sir Dorabji Tata Trust. PVCHR, a local human rights organization has been given responsibility to appoint teachers and to monitor the progress of imparting elementary education to the poor children in some areas of Varanasi district.

In the course of preparing the monitoring report, I visited few Pre Primary Centers that are being run in following villages of Varanasi district.

                                       Belwa village

 This village is situated at a distance of almost 30 km from Varanasi city and almost 5 km away from Babatpur airport.

Social and economic structure: Total population of this village is about 10000. There are several different communities based on caste structure live in the village. There is Musahar community in the village which belongs to scheduled caste category and their social and economic condition is far from main stream of the society. Most of them live in thatched huts only few of them have been provided with a room made up of bricks under the housing scheme.

Hardly any person of the Musahar community can read and write their names. No person in the community is in any kind of government service. Most of these people work on brick kilns or as agricultural laborer under extreme exploitation and humiliation.

There is also community of Chamars in village and they live in separate hamlet. Awareness among the persons of this community is relatively better than that of Musahars but their economic hardships and living conditions are almost the same as in case of Musahars. So this community is also lagging far behind in to providing elementary education to their children.

There is another scheduled caste community in this village known as Nut community. Traditionally this community has been earning their livelihood by performing daring acts like walking on a rope or some other acts dangerous to life. Persons of this community also do work as agricultural laborers etc. The educational standard of this community is not much better than the abovementioned two communities.

There are some backward castes communities are also residing in the village like Patel, Muslim etc. Social and economic conditions of these communities are also far from satisfactory one.  

There are two Pre-Primary Centers are being run under the Tata Trust project in the village, one is in Nut hamlet of the village and the other one is in Patel hamlet of the same village.

First, I visited to the Pre Primary Center (PPC) of Patel hamlet. The place where PPC is being run is rather a big open ground. PVCHR has constructed a building which has been named as Kabir Peoples Friendly Educational Centre. I visited  the Centre in the morning at about 9.30 am and children were sitting on the ground in front of the building. There were almost 40 children and most of them fall in the age group of 3-8 years.  "Most of the children who have joined the Centre belong to backward castes and their parents work as daily laborers or pull rickshaw trolley to earn their livelihoods". Told Virendra Kumar Singh, the teacher/trainer employed at the Centre.

As soon as I reached to the Centre, children sitting in the straight lines on Dari made on the ground, stood up to welcome me and to show their respect to me. Though, the worldly appearances of these children speak loudly about their background that they have come from the families living in abject desperation. Almost all the children were half naked wrapped in rags but their liveness and innocence touched me from inside. When I asked them to read poems it was surprising to me that one after other the children queued up in front of me to recite poems. A four years old boy name Amarjeet recited many poems performing acting as well for each poem. He seemed to recite poems reflecting diverse activities of rural life in an ingenious way. He recited a poem counting all months in a year.

Among these children, who recited poems were Muskan, a girl aged about 4 years, Madhu, a girl aged about 3 years, Kajal, Karan and many others. These children are cleaver enough in counting, addition, multiplication, subtraction etc. They have made a substantial improvement in learning alphabets of both English and Hindi language.

At the Centre there is no problem of shortage of attendance of the children but contrary to that there is problem of excess of children attending the Centre and it has given rise to shortage of Dari and toys at the centre.

Virendra Kumar Singh, the teacher employed at the Centre has done wonderful job to nurture the talent of these children. It is really wonderful because it has been done in a very adverse atmosphere in the sense that against a meager wage for himself. I would like to strongly recommend to give him financial or other material incentive to carry on his important work of imparting elementary education to these poor children and nurturing their talent. I also recommend giving him responsibility to visit other Centers and to train the teachers for imparting elementary education in a effective and subtle way. 
 

                                Bhagwanpur village

Bhagwanpur village is 3 km away from Belwa village in the west. There are 27 children enrolled at the Centre. Most of the children at the Centre belong to the dalit families. Their parents either work as agricultural laborer or in brick kiln factories or as a daily wage worker at a construction site.

When I reached at the Centre, I found that the children are just tottering here and there. I also found that an old aged lady from the neighborhood had come there and was sitting and taking with the teacher, Ms. Arti. I enquired the teacher why that woman was sitting among the children. She told me that there was a ward from her family and she had come to see her ward.

There were only 10-12 children at the Centre. I talked with some of the children and asked them to recite a poem but only few dared to speak out and read the poem. Most of the children present at the centre did not utter even a word to me.

Ms. Arti, the teacher employed at the centre needs to develop more live and affectionate relation with the children at the Centre. It is also necessary to make the community more aware about the importance of elementary education for their children. She should have regular dialogue with the parents of the children. She also needs to work more intensively to induce and inspire the guardians to send their wards at the center regularly. She has to pay more devotion for the cause to improve the situation at least in terms of full and regular attendance of the children enrolled at the centre.

                                     Aneyee Village

Aneyee village is 4 km away from Bhawanpur village in the south . The PPC is conducted in the campus of primary school in the village. This is really a good place having a big campus. There are 27 children enrolled at the Centre. Most of the children belong to the Musahar community i.e. a scheduled caste community. Other children belong to the Patel and Kahar communities which belong to backward caste communities.

There were only 14-15 children at the Centre at the time of my visit to the Centre. "Musahar hamlet is almost one km away from the campus. This is the reason why most of the children do not come to the Center regularly". Told Ms. Sandhya, the teacher employed at the center. I asked the children present at the Center to read any story or poem but none of them dared to read a poem. Even they did not show any interest in counting or reading the alphabets.

I experienced that the children need more affection and love of their teacher. The teacher requires to develop more live and close relation with these children and to win their confidence to find her in better condition for imparting elementary education to the children.

                                   Bachaura Village

Bachaura village is almost 5 km away in the west from the Belwa village. In this village Pre Primary Centre is situated in Chamar hamlet. There are total 19 children enrolled at the Centre. Among these 2 children are from Khatik community. They also belong to the scheduled caste category.

Social and economic conditions of these children or their guardians are very poor. Only few people of this community can read and write their names. Two persons of this community have passed matriculation but no body has got in government services. Most of the people work as agricultural laborer or work in a brick kiln factories or at construction site as a daily wage laborer or under the scheme of National Rural Employment Guarantee Act. These people face extreme exploitation and humiliation.

Ms. Kamlawati, the lady teacher employed at the Centre is a sincere one and have been successful to win the affinity and love of the children.

"There is a problem of regular attendance of children at the Centre. Very often children go away with their parents on the work or employed for some domestic chores." Told Ms. Kamlawati.

Educational and cultural improvement of the children at the Centre is quite good. Vineet, Sarita, Ajay and many others children showed a good response to my queries and recited poems and have learnt how to count and have good knowledge of alphabets.

There is no playground or even no much space at or around the Centre so that the children could find place to play.        

    



[i] LLM in Human Rights from Hong Kong University

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Report of Scholarship girls at Madarsa



Rotary club VÄLLINGBY, Sweden in coordination with Ms.Parul Sharma awarded scholarship to 20 Muslim girls in Bazardiha of Varanasi district through PVCHR. After interacting with the girls PVCHR came to know that they were finding difficulty to continue their education after primary classes, due to poor economic condition. But they are keen to continue their further education.
After having information about the scholarship scheme the parents and children had expressed their happiness to continue the studies of their girls, now it is possible for them to fulfill the dream of educating their girls. Now these girls are happy and encouraged to continue their studies like other children from scholarship they get books, copies and other facilities.
Prior these girls support in the weaving and earn enough to meet the expenses of their studies and contributing economically to their families. “But after receiving scholarship we are free from the worry of earning as our studies expense incur and now we could concentrate more vigorously on our study” the girls happily said.
Grinding under the abject poverty of their families, these children, initially, could not think of their career but after receiving the scholarship they are encouraged and dreaming to become either a doctor or a teacher. But they have opined that they would need such scholarships in the future to fulfill their dreams because they were so poor that without help of such scholarships it would have been almost impossible for them to continue their studies.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Open letter on possibility for SAARC Human Rights Instruments

Dear All Governments of SAARC and Secretary General of SAARC,
Greetings from PVCHR. 
There is no regional mechanism on Human Rights in South Asia such as in Europe, America, Africa and recent as in Southeast Asia except SAARC 'Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms' of the people of the region.A regional mechanism can help address this problem to ensure that all SAARC member states adhere to international human rights standards; to provide a common platform where SAARC member states, being socio-politically different from each other, can articulate their human rights-related concerns; and to cooperate to address violations and collectively show its stand on human rights-related issues.
 
The establishment of the regional human rights body can play fundamental role in protecting and promoting international human rights standards by helping to address shortcomings in national frameworks and complement existing international human rights mechanisms.
 
INSEC and Forum Asia urged SAARC to promote the increased and institutionalized role of civil society groups to encourage their full integration in the process of the establishment and development of the SAARC human rights body, to create a "people-oriented SAARC".  "Engaging civil society and deriving international experience through it would be valuable process to internalize SAARC with the people of the region."
 
Please see :
 
 
 
PVCHR supports the Colombo statement off SAARC on Children ,but it is high and right time to establish the South Asian human Rights mechanism.Please see my presentation on p
ossibility for SAARC Human Rights Instruments: 
 
 
Human Rights commission of Pakistan, LOKOJ (Bangladesh), People's forum for Human Rights (Bhutan), Wiros Lokh Institute (Sri Lanka), PVCHR (India) and INSEC (Nepal) organized the South Asina Peoples' Forum for establishment of Peoples' SAARC by SAARC.Please the details:http://www.pvchr.org/sapf.htm
 
Please do needful for establishment of SAARC Human Rights mechanism and Peoples' SAARC for rule of law and peace in South Asia.
 
With Kind Regars,
Attachement:
 
1. Email of SAARC:
 
From:
Add sender to Contacts

Email to            pvchr@yahoo.com

 

Dear Dr. Lenin,

 

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.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

Q.A.M.A. Rahim

SAARC Secretary-General
 
2.
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.
Speeches:
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 SAARC


With 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


(http://www.universalrights.net/heroes/display.php3?id=23)
The 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:http://saarcwb.1accesshost.com/
http://www.thesouthasian.org/archives/000271.html

South Asian people's Declaration


The 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 Mission
We 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 concerns
Democracy

We 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.
Discrimination
We 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 sovereignty
We 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 Trade
We 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 rights
We 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-1
The 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-2
Women 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-3
Military 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-4
We 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-5
We 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-6
Despite 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-7
Pepsi 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 Programme
South 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 santvivekdas@yahoo.com
Roberto Wohlgemuth Jarrín,Civil Society Watch Associate,CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation,Johannesburg, South Africa
I 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 actress
Thank you for inviting me to this most worthwhile program. I will do my best to be present there. Daya ,Canada
Thank 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 Navlakha
Greetings 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-General
This 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, USA


Much 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,NAFRE
Forum 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,Nepal
Dr.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,Pakistan
I 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< Ecomomics and Environment (SAWTEE) Nepal< ASIA MEDIA COMMITTEE ON HUMAN RIGHTS AND RESEACH PARTNER NCCR_NORTH SOUTH SWITZERLAND
Thank you very much for your kind response and invitation as member of core group. We would be part of this noble initiative and will participte in it. Shafqat Munir
I will be happy to attend.John Dayal,India
Many thanks for the invitation. But I'm now based at Oxford and it would be very difficult for me to travel. I wish the Summit all the best.Best wishes, Imtiaz,Bangladesh


What a terrific idea! You have to be complimented on the initiative. I really believe that the "People's SAARC" can actually make a difference!
I am putting this down in my 'things to do', but will only be able to tell you, nearer the date, if I can attend. If there is anything else you want me to do, let me know. KARAN GROVER,KARAN GROVER & ASSOCIATES,architects, planners & interior designers
Thank you very much for your invitation to be a guest the "People's SAARC" in January in Varanasi. The objectives and themes of the Convention are indeed very relevant and we wish you much success in your deliberations.Whilst we appreciate your efforts as organizers of this important conference, we would encourage you to focus specifically on the excluded and marginalized population groups, in particular Dalits, in the programme presentation and the deliberations.I will, unfortunately, not be able to attend the conference due to other commitments, but believe that you are in contact with the National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR) in India, who is a core member of IDSN. NCDHR will in this case also represent IDSN.We would appreciate receiving a copy of the Convention report and thank you very much in advance. Rikke Nöhrlind,Coordinator-International Dalit Solidarity Network, Copenhagen K,Denmark.
Thankyou very much for the invitation.This is really a wonderful initiative and the need of the hour.Due to prior commitments I will not be able to participate in the meet.I wish the "People's SAARC" a grand success. Padmanabha Rao and Rama,Rishivelley, AP, India
Saw your invitation mailed through anitaandedwin@yahoogroups.
Good and timely initiative indeed!
Greetings and best wishes for the success of the Convention!
Aloysius sj-Program Director,Dept. of Advocacy Research & Human Rights Education,Madurai,Tamil Nadu.
I'm very interesting in your conference. Maybe you know from INSEC that my institute is working together with South Asians NGO on the issues of human rights and minority protection as well as federalism and autonomy arrangements.Unfortunatly I will not be able to come to Varanasi in January because I will be in Sri Lanka in December and in February/March in Pakistan. Please send me further informations about your activities and hopefully we will find a way to cooperate.Please have a look on our webpage:www.eurac.edu Günther Rautz


Thank you for your invitation. Due to other priorities Alliance2015 will not attend the convention.Wish you success for the future.D. Buutveld Buth,secretary,Alliance 2015
Thanks for the invitation.for LOKOJ, we share the spirit of yours.specially of the capital flow and TNCs role,we could contribute in the global movement against TNCs with a south asian resistence.since Bangladesh is a poor victim of BWI/TNCs agression, we would like to join this effort. We belive that it will equipe us for stronger local and global resistance.in solidarity,arup rahee,LOKOJ Bangladesh,www.lokoj.org
Thank you very much for inviting me to be the Guest at the "People's SAARC" scheduled in 2nd week of January 2005 in Varanasi of North India. I am really looking forward to take part in the program.Further more a group of my collegues from CWIN, a renowned NGO working for the rights of the child also are interested to participate in the program. Dr. Lenin knows CWIN very well. Similarly one of my friends working in the field of human trafficking is also very interested to participate in the program. Could you please give us suggessions? Please suggest me if other people too like to participate.Sorry for being late to reply you.Hoping to receive your response.Kumar Bhattarai,CWIN- Nepal
I will be happy to join the People's SAARC Convention at Varanasi. I can attend only for one day, the 15th of Jan 2005. I will be delighted to speak in the morning session on the 15th. I fully support your initiative and wish you all the best. I will most probably reach 14th evening and leave 16th morning. I will send you the exact details later. Manoranjan Mohanty,Delhi University
I am writing to thank you for your kind invitation to be a Guest at the "People's SAARC" scheduled on 15-17 of January 2005 in Varanasi of North India.
Unfortunately, at that time a conflict in my schedule does not permit me to attend the Peoples SAARC, much as I would like to attend. I wish you well in this historical convention and know that the international and national participants will assist in the preparation of the "People's SAARC Declaration". Kumi Naidoo, Secretary General & CEO, CIVICUS. World Alliance for Citizen Participation, Johannesburg, South Africa
BHUTAN PEOPLES' PARTY <bpparty@ntc.net.np> 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" <sayeed_bangla@yahoo.com
Thank you for the mail that I reacting rather late, any way I am forwarding
This mail to some of my acquaintances in Bangladesh and other places!
I wish the initiative a success!"Mr.Bratin Chatterjee" <usharko@sancharnet.in
Count me as joining this conference. Indu Prakash,email: indu@actionaidindia.org


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,( www.eurac.edu) 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/ IMF
3. To develop common standards of decency of workplace And treatment of workers
4. To develop common standards of minimum wages
5. 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 distortions
2. 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
PVCHR

Varanasi, India

Dr Darin C Gunesekera
Wiros Lokh Institute
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 Sovereignty
We 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.

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4. www.ased.org/artman/publish/article_678.shtml
5. bridget.jatol.com/pipermail/ sacw_insaf.net/2005/002074.html
6. saarcwb.1accesshost.com
7. insaf.net/pipermail/sacw_insaf.net/2003/001700.html
8. www.petitiononline.com/SAPF/petition.html
9. www.mail-archive.com/ stolengeneration@googlegroups.com/msg00006.html
10. http://www.thesouthasian.org/archives/000271.html
11. www.globalgiving.com/pr/800/proj740p.html
12. Revolutionary diary
13. friends of CRY
14. river link yahoo group
15. ashaproject



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