Welcome to Rashtriya Jan Sansad [National People’s Parliament] 2012. We are privileged to have you as Jan Sansaads/ as people’s representatives of this Parliament/space. What does a truly democratic people’s Parliament mean? Who are the representatives of the people? These are some of the questions that we would like to pose through the Jan Sansad. A people’s participatory democracy is what we are striving towards. It is in this context that people from different organizations, sectors and geographical locations are to be here as ‘Jan Saansads’ to form this Parliament. As you know already the idea of Jan Sansad is that we come together from different struggles and walks of life to make the voice of democracy resonate through the streets of New Delhi and across the country, to challenge and shake the centres of power. To push the voices of our marginalized communities from the peripheries of society to the centre. Jan Sansad , hence , should not be taken to be a program or an event but as an ‘alternative political forum’ initiating a process. A process that will be ongoing as long as our need to revive, restore and redefine democracy and people’s struggles continues to stay. As you all know, these struggles have achieved a lot both locally as well as nationally. But this Jan Sansad will be one step further, we hope, in articulating our diverse voices and struggles from a single platform and reach a common national agenda, that would help resolve local problems also.
In the present day, when the State is getting more and more oppressive and militarized, the need of the hour is to make the non violent struggles of our people’s movements be heard without being clamped down upon. Whether it is in Govindpur, Niyamgiri, Singur, Nandigram, Bhopal, Plachimada,Chengara, Muthanga, Koodankulam , Jaitapur, Narmada valley, Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor, Lavasa, Bhuvan Valley Tea Estate in Assam, urban slums of large cities like Bombay, Ranchi, Bokaro, Chennai, streets of Kolkatta, Palval or Allahabad we see the nexus between national to Multinational corporates or large builders and the government working in a way that allows for the daylight robbery of our natural resources and the denial of community and individual rights. We are caught between fighting at the ground level with affected and marginalized communities and pushing for the legal system to bring justice in a fair and timely manner. Rampant displacements, evictions, corruption, deplorable working conditions, denial of basic needs such as food, water, housing and education goes on unchecked, our complaints falling on the deaf ears of the government officials. These are dark times to live in. A socially just and economically equitable system that we are all fighting for, whether it be farmers, farm workers,fish-workers, urban poor, adivasis, dalits, women, gender and sexuality minorities, protected/unprotected workers- seems like a continually deferred dream. Yet, it is the faith that, this dream is to come true someday that we hope this People’s Parliament will also bring forth the common perspectives and present alternative paradigms to the present system.
The fires of our struggles are lit by the passion and undying spirit of our people’s movements that also have a large number of intellectual, supporters from different walks of life, who make a difference. An unbroken and unbreakable spirit that needs to be saluted. A spirit that never gives up even in the face of multiple barriers and hardships along the way. The right to assert that our jungles, waters, land, houses, food are our own and should not be sold to generate profits. The right to say loud and clear that we are not dispensable or second class citizens of the country but actually the communities that contribute the most to the economy with our hard work ,preserve and enrich natural resources, provide services without which cities would remain paralysed. Dignity of labour has been denied to the toiling masses for a long time and now, is the time for all the people from different communities and struggles to come together to be heard as one voice to assert the power of our identities and movements.
We propose that debates and discussions happen in the framework of these broad topics, although narratives that fall outside of these will also be encouraged and heard to uphold a truly democratic process in accordance with constraints of time.
- Community Rights over Land, Water, Forest, Minerals and Right to Development Planning
- Growing Inequality : Unprotected / Unorganised Sector Workers and Labour Issues
- Agrarian Crisis and Food Security
- Assertion of People’s Politics, Sovereignty, Democratic Governance and Electoral Reforms
- Fighting Corporate Corruption : Laws and Challenges
- A People’s Budget : Alternative Visions and Paradigm
The programme is as follows:
v March 19th– Jan Saansads to visit Kanjawala, Farmer’s Struggle by Jan Sangarsh Vahini.
v March 20th,21st and 22nd– Sessions at Rajendra Bhavan,Deen Dayal, Upadyay Marg,I.T.O
v March 23rd– From Bhagatsingh park [10 A.M] to Sansad Marg [in Jantar Mantar]. Public meeting of Jan Sansad to discuss and endorse the outcome of Jan Sansad.
Through the process of Jan Sansad, we hope to bring greater solidarity between our struggles, articulate our collective demands more strongly and effectively question as to whether the present government is actually by the people, of the people and for the people. Our challenge to the present socio political economic system needs to be put in a constructive way and we believe that one of the ways in which we can do this is to propose workable alternatives to present systems. We hope that all of you will also participate actively and make our collective voice stronger and help pose a real challenge to the present state of affairs. We would like you to bring any banners, posters, literature, notes/critiques of present policies, proposed alternatives, your own or your organization’s views on various issues to this platform for wider circulation and discussions. This People’s Parliament will go a long way to bring the representation of our issues onto the national agenda. The issues highlighted will go beyond legal systems to articulate ideologically common positions that are socially just.
We would urge you to think about this process in terms of your own work and in terms of forming larger and stronger alliances with other marginalized groups and people’s movements. The spirit of your and our struggles will get reflected in this process and the national agenda that will evolve as a result of this can be used as a weapon for further battles ahead of us.
We will also have an alternative budget, presented, debated and passed in the Jan Sansad.Our proposals, common challenges, understandings and issues will be formulated into a national agenda and resolutions will be passed through consensus that will function as proposed alternatives to the present system. The resolutions and the people’s budget passed in the Jan Sansad will be sent to governments and members of elected Parliament and circulated widely. We hope that this process will infuse our struggles with new energy and stronger alliances and solidarities across movements will be forged as a result of this.
Brothers and sisters,
Comrades and friends,
We will march hand in hand,
Through the hot sand.
Do not have pity,
For us who toil in the villages and city,
We will challenge all the powers,
And fight till we get what is ours.
For Jan Sansad Organising Committee
Medha Patkar Anand Mazgaonkar Sunilam Gautam Bandopadhyay Madhuresh
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