Bangalore, novembre 2006
Conference Report. Conclusion
At the end of the discussion followed by the session on ‘Child rights situation today’ majority of the participants ensured their support and solidarity in working on issues related to children and suggested the following.
Advocate for Common School System and hence for Right to Education and Rights in Education through the coalition of organizations and activists working for child rights.
Working to see what are the best methods to prevent child labour in India through methods that will help get all children into school.
Helping to develop legislation to prevent corporal punishment against children.
As an initial step will work to see that all the children from their operational area are in school, they further assured. They were responding to the invitation of Mr. Siddhartha on the follow up action.
The participants found the attempt of Non-Violence 21st in introducing non-violence as part of the school syllabus as significant and suggested that there should be an attempt from the part of the coalition of child rights organizations and activists to create consciousness on its importance to the concerned authorities and pressurize for the same.
Though the participants are concerned about the ambiguities on the proposed Scheduled Tribes (Recognition of Forest Rights) Bill, 2005 they all had the opinion that if this Bill is implemented in letter and spirit the Adivasis of India, the people their existence is very much depended on land and related occupation, will benefit. While recognizing the misunderstandings on the Bill the participants urged the need of media advocacy in pressurizing the government to enact the Bill and get the consensus of the public. Also the participants supported the need of developing a coalition of tribal groups and organisations to resolve conflicts with the forest department and the State concerning the eviction of tribals from their traditional habitat and work with them to identify sustainable livelihood practices by recognizing the amount of detribalization happening among the tribal society.
Future action :
At the end of the workshop, the participants emphasized the need of a platform to network for dialogue and action.
The Forum will be networking with organizations working on each of the five thematic areas from seven states (Andhra Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Orissa, Tamilnadu). Each of the programme areas will have a coordinator. There is an overall co-ordinator for the In-Dia Forum. The coordinating office of the forum will be at Pipal Tree.
1. Right to work : Working for the efficacious implementation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005 which ensures every adult 100 days of guaranteed work by the government each year. Methods will be found to activate the bureaucracy to see that poor agricultural workers actually get employment under this programme. NGO’s can also partner with government (even monitor government schemes) to see that the projects being implemented have to do with sustainable development. There is a lot of potentiality to restore tanks and lakes, build check dams, provide drinking water, developing forest cover, etc. with the participation of the local communities.
2. Adivasi rights : Working with adivasi groups and organizations to resolve conflicts with the forest department and the States concerning the eviction of tribals from their traditional habitat and the loss of livelihood. At the moment this work is focused on getting the Scheduled Tribes (recognition of forest) Rights Bill, 2005 which is now before the parliament. When the Bill is passed many grass roots NGO’s will have to get involved in the communities to see that it is properly implemented.
3. Child rights : Working to seek out the best methods to prevent child labour in India through methods that will help get all children into school. This programme will necessitate the collaboration of local panchayats.
4. Communal harmony : Work to identify, develop and disseminate methods that will help resolve conflicts between ethnic/religious groups. There is a real danger that if these conflicts are not resolved peacefully they may snowball into larger conflicts. One of the best ways found to ensure communal harmony in an area is to get people from the poor urban communities to work together and focus on their common social and economic problems, like sanitation, drinking water, housing, micro-credit etc.
5. Water : Working on water issues like rain water-harvesting, restoring lakes, getting government to help with water conservation in agriculture through drip and sprinkler systems, creating awareness to see that not too many bore wells are dug in an area. To see to it that high water-use crops like sugarcane and rice are not grown in dry areas. To explore the best methods to resolve drinking water problems of the poor through appropriate campaigns, to review urban drinking water supply objectively and realistically so that the poor gets an adequate amount of drinking water free of cost (or at nominal rates).
The methodology :
We believe that solving the problems related to the poor is an empowerment process that must produce short-term, mid-term and long term results. For example, we believe that in solving the problem of drinking water in urban poor communities we can arrive at consensus that transcends ideological differences. The need for drinking water for poor urban communities is an issue that no-body can disagree with. But a process of mediation is needed to help groups narrow their differences and overcome ideological barriers.
Various sections of the community do not have to abandon their respective ideological positions, what we are doing through the In-Dia Forum is creating a goodwill to listen to each other across the continuum of various ideological scenarios. This climate helps build coalitions to effectively solve problems related to the marginalized and excluded sections of society. Not only NGO’s, but government departments, bureaucrats, media, local leaders, intellectuals, open-minded religious leaders and businessmen/women can all be drawn into this process at different levels and different times.
A spin-off from this methodology is the fostering of a deeper understanding of the need for provisional consensus within the democratic process to solve concrete problems. This process will help with building of multi-stake-holder alliances that can work for effective participatory governance.