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Convention of People's Movements

The National Alliance of People's Movements has indeed come a long way from its evolution in 1992. At its fifth biennial convention held in Bangalore during May 30-June 1, the NAPM resolved to step up the struggle against the takeover of community land, water and forests by national and multinational capital, to protect people's livelihoods and their democratic rights, and preserve and inculcate the values of equality and sovereignty.

Convention of People’sMovements

The National Alliance of People’s Movements has indeed come a long way from its evolution in 1992. At its fifth biennial convention held in Bangalore during May 30-June 1, the NAPM resolved to step up the struggle against the takeover of community land, water and forests by national and multinational capital, to protect people’s livelihoods and their democratic rights, and preserve and inculcate the values of equality and sovereignty.


n the evening on June 1, motorists and pedestrians in downtown Bangalore near the Shivaji stadium heard curious slogans: ‘multinational companies/CocaCola/Pepsi Cola – Bharat chhodo’ (MNCs/ Coca-Cola/Pepsi Cola – quit India). Hundreds of activists and villagers from over 16 states shouted: ‘Manmohan Singh – Bharat chhodo’ and ‘Chidambaram – Bharat chhodo’. Declaring their stiff opposition to displacement, anti-farmer policies, and the proposed special economic zones (SEZs), the demonstrators called for a people’s struggle against the prevalent pattern of development, against ‘desi’ and foreign capital, and against globalisation. While the union and state governments are busy placating the MNCs and hobnobbing with corporate magnates, the people made it clear that at the ground level there would be severe resistance: “We will not allow national and multinational corporations to takeover our land, water and forests; we will protect our livelihood, our rights, and our values of equality and sovereignty”. This was in essence the message of the 5th biennial convention of the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), held in Bangalore during May 30-June 1. The people’s organisations and movements that had gathered resolved to launch an indefinite national people’s movement (NPM) by 2007 against the anti-people development policies of the government, and against the onslaught of neoliberal globalisation. “This national movement will emerge out of nationwide struggles against displacement, destitution, privatisation of water, agricultural distress, anti-people changes in land use and industrial policies … we will fight for the rights of dalits, adivasis, other backward communities, farmers, organised and

unorganised workers, religious and linguistic minorities, and women. Our objective is to usher in a new era of sustainable, equitable and just development for all”, asserted Medha Patkar.

A Crucial Juncture

According to an NAPM letter, the various social movements were meeting at a time when the central and state governments are allowing corporate interests to usurp the natural resources of the people and are transferring public utilities, including public transport, health, water supply and education, to private hands. The union and state governments have been violent and repressive, and have tried to obfuscate the issues. Suicides by farmers across the land, from Vidarbha and Andhra to Punjab, are on the rise. State repression against adivasis and farmers in Orissa and in areas along the Narmada has intensified. The fish workers in Gangavaram, the industrial workers in Gurgaon and the slum dwellers of Mumbai and Delhi are also bearing the brunt of stepped up state repression. The NAPM letter suggests that the judiciary has failed to protect the rights of the common people and has instead served the interests of the corporations.

Hundreds of delegates representing over 110 organisations from 16 states came together for the NAPM convention. Prominent organisations and movements like that of the Narmada Bachao Andolan, the National Fish-workers’ Forum, the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (Rajasthan), the women’s movement and the construction workers’ movements in Tamil Nadu, the Shoshit Jan Andolan (Maharashtra), and farmers’ organisations from various parts of the country participated in the convention. There were senior activists of the Samajwadi Jan Parishad who work in different states on issues like mining, communalism, displacement, agriculture and globalisation. Representatives of the Rashtra Seva Dal and the National Hawkers’ Federation also participated in the convention. Movements of the tribal people for land rights and against displacement, anti-mining movements in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Orissa, those against the evictions of slum dwellers and hawkers from Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Hyderabad, the movements against the Coca-Cola plant in Plachimada and Varanasi, the movements for alternative urban development plans, the movement of refugees as a result of the Ganga erosion in West Bengal, the Jagrutha Mahila Sangathane from Karnataka, the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS) and the Bangalore Corporation’s Sweepers’ Labour Union were represented at the convention. Prominent activists like Thomas Kocherry, Shankar Singh, Geeta Ramakrishnan, Aruna Roy, D Gabriele, sister Celia, Prafulla Samantara, Sunil, Vishwanath Bagi, Shaktiman Ghosh, Lingraj, Sukhendu Bhattacharya, Subhash Ware, Mohan Chavan, Shivpujan Singh, Rajendra Singh, Ulka Mahajan, Anand Mazgaonkar and Sanjay M G were among those present.

After the burning of the ‘mashaal’(torch) to mark the inauguration, the gathering stood in silence to remember two stalwarts and guides of the people’s movements, the Sarvodaya leader, Siddharaj Dhaddha and the socialist leader, Kishen Pattanayak. Dwelling on the evolution of the NAPM from 1992 onwards, the national coordinator, Medha Patkar made it clear that the various organisations have come together to shape a political force that will serve as a national challenge to the communal, “casteist”, anti-people and antienvironmental politics of development, which is further exacerbated by the forces of global capitalism, like the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the World Trade Organisation (WTO). She emphasised that along with Gandhi, the new movements are inspired by Mahatma Phule, Ambedkar, Marx and Rammanohar Lohia and they aim to bring about basic changes in the economy, the planning process, lifestyles from the grassroot to the international level. The new social movements are also laying foundation for the alternative development. She called for a larger alliance than the NAPM, going beyond the NAPM itself, to include individuals, constructive activists and the

Economic and Political Weekly August 19, 2006 Naxalites, and on that basis, to launch a joint national movement.

Major Struggles Ahead

In the group discussions, and later in the panel seminar, the organisations highlighted the usurpation of the land, water and forest from the hands of communities for the so-called development and infrastructure projects and the consequent ruination of the lives of the common people. They resolved to intensify struggles against the eviction and displacement of millions of people due to large dams, mines, environmental projects and urban development. A national convention against the loot of natural resources to be held in August this year was announced.

The onslaught of national and international capital on the common resources of the communities comes in various forms, like contract farming, concentration of farms in the hands of the non-farming entities, and displacement from the land. The organisations present decided to strive for the strict implementation of the various land ceiling acts and the coastal regulation zone (CRZ). They decried the withdrawing of state support to the farmers and the dismantling of the cooperative mechanism and called for reimposition of quantitative restrictions on the import of the agricultural products.

Linking the continuous spate of suicides by farmers from Vidarbha, Andhra, Punjab and so on to the process of globalisation, Sunilbhai, the general secretary of Samajwadi Jan Parishad demanded that agriculture be kept out of the purview of the WTO, and that India should quit the latter. A senior activist from Andhra, Narendranath Gorepatti, asserted the need to make farming sustainable and efficient by avoiding chemical inputs, GM seeds and capitalintensive techniques. The organisations condemned the attempts by the union agriculture minister to threaten food security by importing foodgrains and simultaneously dismantling the public distribution system.

In what can prove to be a major strategic move in the future, the convention witnessed the participation of the KRRS, represented by Chukki Nanjundaswamy, a leading mainstream peasant organisation in the country. The KRRS has been calling for a joint struggle of peasants, tribal people, dalits, farm labourers and workers, and has been opposing capitalist globalisation, the multinational companies and the imposition of GM seeds and western food culture on India. The convention decided to hold a joint national workshop on the agrarian crisis and peasant displacements with the KRRS.

As a major step, the organisations present decided to oppose the creation of SEZs, as the nation will not only lose tax revenue but, more importantly, its sovereignty, alongside the exploitation of the labour and natural resources. A special convention would be soon held to chart out the struggle against SEZs.

The organisations decried the attempts to abolish the Land Ceiling Act, including the Urban Land Ceiling Act, and the CRZ. They demanded strict implementation of these laws and distribution of the excess land either to the landless or to build houses for the urban poor. They opposed any slum evictions and demolitions and demanded a new urban housing policy. In one of the major decisions the organisations announced their opposition to the Asian Development Bank-funded National Urban Renewal Mission, which would trigger off yet another bout of displacement of urban workers and the poor. Simprit Singh, the young activist of NAPM’s campaign ‘Ghar


No.- 11/1-1-1/Estt./2006-07 Date 10th August, 2006

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), a specialized agency of the United Nations working against poverty and hunger the world over in support with Central Government and Government of Uttaranchal has implemented the Livelihoods Improvement Project for the Himalayas (LIPH) through Uttaranchal Gramya Vikas Samiti (UGVS). UGVS has promoted Uttaranchal Parvatiya Aajeevika Sanvardhan Company (UPASaC) under Section 25 Company under the Companies Act, 1956 for implementation of livelihoods and business promotion components. This Company will be working in 17 development blocks of 5 districts i.e, Chamoli, Uttarkashi, Tehri-Garhwal, Almora and Bageshwar in Uttaranchal with its branch offices in respective districts.

The main activity of UPASaC will be to identify, scout, support and nurture entrepreneurship at the bottom of the pyramid in a manner that it alleviates poverty, create innovative financial tools for supporting such institutions, develop networks with local banks to leverage equity, and integrate professional work environment with social impact on poor. UPASaC seeks to appoint qualified and committed professionals for the following position on annual contract or on deputation basis initially for a period of 3 (three) years, extendable for another 3 years based on performance. The vacant assignments are as under :

For Corporate Office, Dehradun (Uttaranchal).
  • 1. Technical Services Group (TSG) Manager
  • 2. Business Development Services Group (BSG) Manager
  • 3. Business Promotion Group (BPG) Manager
  • The aforesaid posts involve extensive travel to hilly districts of the project. Details regarding qualification, responsibilities, remuneration and prescribed format for application can be obtained by sending mail to email address: or be downloaded from the website-http:/ or be obtained from the office of the Chief Executive Officer, UPASaC, 188, Vasant Vihar, Phase I, Dehradun, Uttaranchal, during office hours till 4th September, 2006.

    Applications for the assignment should be sent in the prescribed format along with the stamped self-forwarding envelop. Applications are to be sent to the Chief Executive Officer, at the above mentioned address so as to reach by 5th September, 2006.

    Title of Post applied for should be clearly written on top of the envelope enclosing the application.

    Sd/-Chief Executive Officer

    Economic and Political Weekly August 19 2006

    Bachao-Ghar Banao’, criticised the proposed policy of private-public partnership in urban planning, which in reality means handing over the public resources and utilities to private entities. A national struggle against urban displacement is planned for September this year. The NAPM decided to demand new legislation on ceiling on urban property, protection of slum dwellers and regularisation of their dwellings.

    Aruna Roy expressed the overwhelming feeling in the convention when she made an impassioned plea for the resignation of the prime minister for his refusal to stop the work on the Sardar Sarovar dam and deliberate inaction regarding protecting the lives and rights of the Narmada valley people. “It is an affront on the people, on their rights, a contempt of the law…this shows the moral and political bankruptcy of the political class,” she said. Almost all the participants signed a protest letter, demanding the resignation of the prime minister since he failed in his constitutional duty. The people in the Narmada valley expressed their determination to nail the lies of the government and the so-called Shunglu Committee.

    On the second day of convention, Magsaysay award winner Rajendra Singh came down heavily on water privatisation attempts by the central and state governments. “Water must be kept in hands of local communities”, he said. Singh revealed that while former PM Rajiv Gandhi had assured against any privatisation of water, his successors have insidiously accepted water as a tradable commodity in the WTO. “This has culminated in inviting water multinationals to enter the country in 2001”, he added.

    The convention decided to intensify the people’s struggle in Plachimada (Kerala), Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh) and Kala Dera (Rajasthan) against the Coca-Cola company. The privatisation of water supply in Delhi and Kolkata too came in for harsh criticism. The organisations have opposed the water policy of the union government and have worked out an alternative peopleoriented water policy. As a mark of this struggle, water padyatras will be organised in every river valley earmarked in the interlinking of rivers (ILR) project.

    The NAPM has resolved to take up the issues regarding the rights of unorganised workers both in urban and rural areas and a national convention is planned for that purpose in West Bengal. As D Gabriele put it, “37 crore people work in the unorganised work sector contributing 65 per cent of the gross domestic product”.

    A public meeting was held on the issue of reservations where the organisations unequivocally backed reservations for the other backward classes (OBCs) in higher education and in higher technical jobs and demanded that private sector too must have such reservations. The general consensus was: reservations are not a favour; their enactment will release the creativity, productivity and resourcefulness of over 70 per cent of the workforce in India. They called for strengthening of the common school system for quality school and technical education to all students.

    Plurality of Political Struggle

    Significantly, the NAPM convention supported the struggle for identity and nationhood by the Palestinians. The convention condemned the attempts to repress, defame and corner the Palestinian people. It expressed solidarity with the struggles going on in various Latin American countries – Bolivia, Venezuela, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina and Chile – by the farmers, workers and indigenous peoples for the right to land and water and against US imperialism. A full house heard a special lecture on Latin America struggles by Ajit Jha. Sergio Oceransky, who works in Europe and Latin America with the people’s movements, participated and discussed the issues and ways to enhance the solidarity with these struggles.

    “We are fast becoming a police state and any political issue is made out as a law and order problem”, lamented noted development economist L C Jain. He hoped that the NAPM could change the situation by reclaiming political spaces. The overwhelming majority of the participants were for intensifying the political struggle, while maintaining that the politics of the people’s movements may vary in forms and methods from that of a progressive political party. This plurality of political struggle was accepted by all in the NAPM as well as the People’s Political Forum (PPF), meant for electoral intervention to advance the cause of the people. There was a consensus that the fountainhead of people’s politics will have to be the people’s movements and solidarity in the form of the NAPM needs to be enriched and strengthened. There were also discussions on how to strengthen the NAPM. The NAPM has indeed come a long way from its evolution in 1992.



    Economic and Political Weekly August 19, 2006

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