Counterview, 31 Oct 2014, Pune: The tenth biennial conference of the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), an apex body of several grassroots organisations and NGOs spread all over the country, has called for “united action” in the face of “neoliberal onslaughts”. Held against the backdrop of continued political advance of the Narendra Modi-led BJP, which is seeking to amend “positive features” of the new land acquisition Act, water down environmental and forest rights laws and the rural jobs scheme, participants at the NAPM meeting said it is the “need of the hour” to come “together to challenge the neoliberal communal onslaught.”
Insisting on the need to defend the “gains” which the people’s movements won during the UPA government’s period, at least three important participants — Aruna Roy, ex-member, National Advisory Council under Congress chief Sonia Gandhi; well-known social activist Medha Patkar; and top educationist Anil Sadgopal — called for the need to fight “dilution of hard won legislations like the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS), the new land acquisition Act, the forest fight Act and environmental rules.”
A statement issued in the wake of the NAPM meet, however, did not clarify as to with whom would such a “united action” would be launched. The statement said, the main issue of discussion was on the theme of “politics of development and social justice today”.
However, it added, “Activists discussed various issues confronting the nation.” Issues ranged from control over natural resources and community rights, strengthening secular forces, electoral reforms, role of farmers and workers in agrarian economy, and rights of unorganized sector workers.
Chaired by Aruna Roy and held at the Rashtra Seva Dal campus, Pune, more than 500 activists representing social movements from 15 states attended the convention. Various political and organisational issues were discussed. A compendium “NAPM @ 20: Alliance in Struggle and Reconstruction” illustrating various struggles of people’s movement all across the country was released by tribal rights activist BD Sharma.
“Patkar discussed the role of the NAPM in transformative politics and developments in last two decades and underlined the contribution of people’s movements in resisting the neo liberal onslaught on the right of community over natural resources”, the statement said, adding, “She recalled how people have fought against coke plant in Plachimada and Enron in Maharashtra, which brought forth the need for community role in local planning.”
“Sadgopal delivered the keynote address and said that public land is being taken away in the name of education. Government schools are being shut down in thousands so that private corporations can benefit”, the statement said, adding, Roy, who chaired the inaugural session, insisted that “people’s movement should connect with the youth of the country and bring them to the leadership of movement like NAPM”, adding, “Youth are being fooled in the name of Jobs but where are the jobs?”