of the three days Convention of Social Development Foundation and Uttar-Pradesh
Land Alliance at the Chhedi Lal Dharmshala, Lucknow 21st-23rd
& UPLA have been organizing their annual conventions every year
since 2004. The first meeting to start Uttar-Pradesh Land Alliance was
organized in Ghazipur, followed by Shaheed Udham Singh Nagar, Chauri
Chaura, and Kushingagar. This was the fifth convention where the organizations
working on the issue of land and livelihood came and discussed their
issues. For the first time after the inception of the UPLA, the convention
was organized in Lucknow to enable people from other states to join
the meet and share their experiences with us.
300 participants from over 150 organisations, community based organizations,
individuals, joined the discussions for the two days. The participation
ranged from states like Uttar-Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhatishgarh,
Uttarakhand, Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, and Goa. The Uttar-Pradesh’s participation
covered almost all the regions of the state. A rainbow coalition of
communities was visible in the meet. It is rare that people from
different communities came forward and discussed the issue confronting
them. Moreover, the social movements are ultimately witnessing a change,
as women as set to take over the change. Its going to be women’s leadership
in future leading the social movements.
programme began with Mr Ram Chandra Prasad and Mr Raj Kapoor Rawat,
Coordinators of UPLA as well as Social Development Foundation, made
their Presentations for the last one-year programmes and activities
undertaken by the organizations.
first session was devoted to ‘Miracle Exposure’. SDF is a secular
humanist organization and it understands that superstitions are imposed
on the exploited communities in the garb of cultural practices. These
outdated practices become source of exploitation and particularly women
bear brunt of it. To keep in mind, as most of SDF-UPLA member, member
organizations comes from Dalit-tribal background, it was important to
educate them on the issue. Apart from this, a very large chunk of our
members hail from Muslim community, which has faced the traumas of the
fundamentalist threat from outside as well as from within the community.
Hence the issue of ‘ Secularisation of civil society’ was an important
agenda item to discuss. A large number of fundamentalist mindset have
now started shifting the agenda of the civil society and hence it is
important to question this intrusion in the civil society agendas by
Nayak, President of Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations, had
kept the participants spell bound with his expose of the miracles. Prof
Nayak remain a favorite of the participants since he had his first direct
interaction some three months back in Kushingar where a large number
of SDF-UPLA partners participated in his training workshops. For nearly
three hours, despite his bad throat, Prof Nayak explained the ways of
the quacks that exploit the rural people in the name of Gods and miracles.
The reason for his instant hit programmes are the socio-cultural environ
around us where people particularly rural poor particularly women face
the worst of such practice routinely. We cannot really keep away from
the incident of terming women as Dayan, whore or under the influence
of evil spirit.
of Civil Society was an important discussion point initiated by Vidya
Bhushan Rawat. He pointed out how the radical right were also participating
in civil society actions and silently pushing their agendas. Women and
children become their victim. In Uttar-Pradesh and other north Indian
states, the condition is grim as old parochial people have started trusts
and societies and are using ‘civil liberties’ and NGOs for their
own nefarious purposes. In the name of NGOs people are on the land grab.
They are acquiring huge track of land for false purposes. This has to
stop. UPLA will oppose any such land grab by the so-called civil society
organisations. VB Rawat also outlined the aim of UPLA and why we have
a stated position on certain issues. UPLA has its constituency from
the Dalits who were denied human rights for long in the name of traditions.
These cultural values were completely alien to the Dalits and were instrumental
in their subjugation and their justification. Therefore UPLA’s official
stand is against imposing a culture of value and tradition on unwanted
communities. Secondly, UPLA cannot keep quiet on the growing target
on its member constituents because of their religion and caste. The
current situation is quite depressing as far as the civil society is
concerned and is a challenge to meet. Some time, the civil society networks
glorify the past and communal identities become powerful to lord over
the individual identity. Identity works to certain extent but also keep
people subjugated to certain thoughts that outlived their utility. When
communities like Mushahars, Bansfors, Scavengers work with us, we can
not ask them to stick to their traditional occupations. They will have
to look for new. That those professions which were unclean became their
entrypoint to a hell where they are still trapped in.
as the modernization and science can not remain unquestioned as one
friend Ram Bhuvan question about the mechanized farming and inorganic
products. When UPLA support modernization
‘ will it support’ contract farming and mechanized farming he asked.
‘ Yes, the question is very important and delicate. You have to choose
between tradition and modernity. Our stand is that not everything is
bad in tradition. There is ample knowledge among our communities. That
knowledge need to be documented. In fact UPLA will take lead in doing
so. Secondly, UPLA is not an organization ingrained in some tainted
vision of ideology. It look ahead and learn a lesson from history. It
reflect in diversity. Despite not believing in caste, we
still try to bring various caste identities. Between the human rights
of a peasant or ideology, we will definitely be with the rights side
of a community. That is why UPLA is always with the struggling masses
and so many people, beyond our expectations here, are a tribute to the
work of UPLA activists.
it is still in the nascent stage, that is why this ideological discussions
are taking place. These discussions here are meant to upgrade us as
well as you about the latest happening in civil society. A civil society
is first a civil society and later working on a particular issue. Hence
we should adhere to basic ideas of human liberty, rule of law, non violence,
respect for the marginalized, physically challenged, women and minorities
and provide them space and opportunities in our forum. That is one reason
why we have so much of discussion on various issues but all of them
ultimately revolve around land and livelihood.
important part of the first day’s programme was the book
‘ Bhumi Shaksharata ki aur’ compiled by Vidya Bhushan Rawat. The
book contains short narratives regarding land movements in India, its
current issues, administrative problems, and practical tools for the
grassroots activists to know about the measurement of land etc. It has
human rights treaties and issue of SEZ and other challenges that today’s
land rights movement have. This apart, the book, had provided information
regarding reports writing and institutions for their remedies.
book was released by five girls from Mohammdabad, Ghazipur where SDF
is successfully running a women’s development programme including
change in mindset and providing alternative module to the scavenger
girls. Deep Mala, who is now volunteering with SDF, apart from her education
said that the book would definitely be a milestone for activists as
they would learn from it about their right and fight more competently
for the land rights?
other activists shared their opinion about the book. Munni Begum said
that it is a great work, which will help women like her to learn
their rights so that they can fight with more confidence and get the
justice. Suman Singh also praised the work. Mr Ram Chandra Prasad mentioned
that the book could be a good tool to spread land literacy movement
all over the state.
Sujatha from Hyderabad said that the book land literacy will be a milestone
for every activist at the grassroot. She expressed her desire to develop
a similar manual in Telugu, for the Andhra Pradesh activists.
the release the girls from Mohammadabad danced and sang a humanist song
penned by SDF’s coordinator Raj Kapoor Rawat.
issue of hunger and starvation has rocked Uttar-Pradesh. The authorities
and the government might not agree that there are hunger deaths but
if living conditions and the governance is any criteria then we seem
to have failed. In fact, recently Commissioners to the Supreme Court
of India have given report on the existing farm crisis in Bundelkhand
region. In fact, most of the persons dying and starving of hunger are
those who have lost access to their livelihood. Whether it is fishermen
or Mushahars, Bansfors ( bamboo workers) or scavengers ( who clean shit),
all of them are facing worst crisis of their lives. Forest communities
in Uttar-Pradesh have rarely been recognized.
The Tharus in the Tarai and Kols in Bundelkhand have virtually no access
to forest produce and are victimized by the forest department officials.
Mushahars used to depend on forest but if they venture today, they are
caught and arrested.
so-called anti poverty programmes have miserably failed. The condition
of NREGA is worthy of mentioning here. It would be asking for too much
if individuals got employment for even 30 days under this scheme. Wrong
entries, card held up with the Sarpanches, women being denied equal
wages and work with machines are some of the
‘hallmark’ of the NREGA programme in Uttar-Pradesh.
conditions are prevalent in Uttar-Pradesh, MCK Food for Hungary Foundation
joined hand with SDF and UPLA and adopted a village in Malwabar Mushahar
Bastee and is supporting the mid day meal programme for the school children.
Though, the school is still informal and it need an overhauling of the
society particularly in the village to bring the habit of study among
the students as well as their parents. It also shows that mere talk
of rights will not work. Rights have to be preceded with charity so
that rural poor is not fed with an artificial dose of ideologies to
sidetrack his issues.
Food for Hungary Foundation is developing a
‘Zero Hunger Act’ proposal on behalf of the civil society. UPLA-SDF
team has been supporting them in this initiative. Two of their representatives,
Ms Baby Rani and Gufran, made two separate presentations related to
this. A wide discussion was held on the issue. Both the participants
from MCKS Food for Hungary Foundation informed the members and participants
of UPLA that further consultation need on this important issue. It was
decided that national regional consultation would be organized to understand
the entire issue and find out new ideas before submitting it to the
government, as it would be difficult for participants to give input
to an issue that they have not thought so far.
Challenges & the livelihood of marginalised
mentioned a number of time that the local distilleries as well as sugar
mills have played havoc with the livelihood of both the farmers and
fishermen. Mr Ramashraya Nishad, General Secretary of Uttar-Pradesh
Machchua Mallah Sangh, said that his community is worst affected from
the river pollution. The chemical affluent being flown into various
rivers of Poorvanchal (eastern UP) has virtually decimated river, lake
and Taals and therefore jeopardizing livelihood of thousands of fishermen.
Nishad has launched a war against the polluting companies under UPLA
and his organization in the region. There was a time, when the fishermen
would get a handsome catch over night but now not only they do not get
anything, but also face severe health problems. The water they drink
is completely polluted.
are migrating to big cities in search of job. Being untrained labour
they work as non-skilled labour at the very low rate. The families of
fishermen are facing severe hardship. Pollution Control Board has done
very little for the cause of the fishermen as Ramashray has time and
again written to many in the Ministry, but of no avail.
Sahni, from Tal Ratoy Machchua Mallah Samiti, Maryadpur, Mau narrated
his experiences. Several years back, with the support of SDF under International
Land Coalition’s CEF programme, the fishermen of the area worked hard
and developed a Taal, which had virtually become defunct. It was one
of the biggest initiatives of our time in independent India as hundreds
of fishermen worked on redeveloping the lake. The farmers also joined
hand and the result was that over 500 acres of land which was inundated
in water for years, was recovered. Today, many of those who had no access
to their land for the past fifty years, are tilling the land. This was
a great mobilization. Not only the farmers got benefited from it but
also the fishermen. But since, it is not just issue of development.
The powerful forces in the village, which create differences between
different communities, were active again. While farmers and fishermen
joined hand, the feudal forces used all tricks to destabilize this unity.
Politics is the backbone of the village. Politicization is good but
over politicization for narrow personal gains is dangerous aspect of
the Indian village system, which is divided on caste line, and every
caste is a village and nation.
the Uttar-Pradesh government is trying to divide the community and eyeing
on this lake to develop it for ‘tourism’ purposes. SDF had predicted
this thing long back that if the fishermen and farmers do not unite,
the government will sell the wonderful water of Ghaghra. Rajinder Sahni
is a worried man but he is determined. All the organizations with
active support of SDF and UPLA plan to launch a Cycle March in the area
to mobilize people against this so-called water tourism. The campaign
for environmental sustainability has already been raised in the area.
Suresh Yadav, leader of the Bharatiya Kisan Union and a solid supporter
of UPLA and SDF in the Mau region lambasted on the policies of the government
which were anti farmer. Yadav said that the sugar mills have destroyed
the farmers in the region. They do not pay the farmers due rates. Farmers
have lost their crops to sugarcane, as sugarcane growers cannot really
shift to another crop easily. The farmer is over burdened particularly
when he feel that the government would provide him money from the sugar
mills. While to send the cane to the mills the farmers have to procure
everything in cash from the market but the sugar mills never pay him
back the cash. Their own money is given to them years after and for
that too, the farmers have wage a fierce battle. The sugar mills are
enjoying the fruits of the work of the farmers. On the one side, they
get huge credit from the farmers and on the other side; their rich chemical
affluent is destroying our environment, our land and water. It is the
Yadav also talked about the failed land reform in Uttar-Pradesh. The
so-called Gandhian methods failed the people. Vinoba’s Bhoodan was
a clever ploy to stop people from capturing land. Where is Bhoodan lad
now? Those who ‘donated’ their land have
‘got’ it back through various acts of omissions and commissions.
The family of many donors approached the court and got the stay. So,
Bhudan was one of the biggest lies of our time.
was generally suggested that Poorvanchal provide an important entry
point for the civil society to intervene on the issue of livelihood
and sustainable development. It is a rare opportunity, that the issue
of environmental degradation has been directly challenged by the victimized
communities and they understand its implications.
In fact, Mr. Suresh Yadav, Ramashray Sahni and Rajinder Sahni are planning
a anti-environmental campaign with protest marches, sittings at the
block headquarters in their respective districts of Mau and Deoria in
the coming days. This massive mobilization
of fishermen and farmers will ultimately pave way for their coming together
and joining hand on various related issues and is a very positive sign.
Both SDF and UPLA have pledged their support for the farmers and fishermen’s
struggle for sustainable environment and clean water.
before the Dalit Bahujan Women
was one of the most fascinating sessions chaired by Ms Surepally Sujatha
and the voices of women that came to be heard during this period grabbed
the attention of every one. This also showed the great organizational
and ideological clarity among women. That they are ready to take on
any fundamentalist onslaught. Those sharing the dais with Sujatha were
women from the very field, the scavenger women, who had never had the
opportunity to speak on a microphone. There were others who are developing
as new leaders of the UPLA movement. There was Suman Singh from Kanpur,
Deep Mala, from Ghazipur, Urmila from Chitrakoot. Apart from this, many
others spoke like Munni Begum, from Pratapgarh, Prem Lata Maurya from
her inaugural statement, Sujatha Surepally who has been actively involved
in the Dalit Women’s movement in Andhra Pradesh and fought for the
rights of tribal women too, said that women’s struggle against patriarchy
is a must before we start any other process. She said that women had
inherent power in her to face the challenges and her work is not
recognized. Women should not just succumb to pulls and pressures but
also question and challenge. She has a right to enjoy her life
in her own way.
scavenger women from Mohammadabad, Ghazipur spoke of their anguish and
wished to leave the work they have been forced into. WE are not
interested in doing this dirty work but we do not have any alternative.
We have no economic resources to stand on our feet, no land, and no
other social security in a village, which is totally dominated by the
Mala, who is a student of 11th standard and has been associated with
the youth wing of SDF, spoke highly of the community initiative taken
by SDF in Mohammdabad. ‘ I would not have been here and speak in front
of you had SDF not supported me for the past 5 years. I owe it to the
organization for taking care of my education and giving me opportunity
to excel and speak in front of people like you. I know how difficult
it is for the person hailing from a community whose tradition has been
scavenging but then she wondered why we do not take a strong stand against
it. In her own case, her father, who was jobless, rejected his parents
demand to allow his wife to do the
‘cleaning job’. He was so determined that he left his parents house
after the marriage and shifted to his mother in laws place and told
them that his wife would not in any way be involved in scavenging work.
Today, Lal Bahadur’s daughter Deep Mala is growing in front of all
of us and giving a new direction and sense of achievement to our work
among the community. Deepmala the younger face of the community wants
more emphasis in education and economic development. She felt that cultural
changes are also important for us so that this baggage of the past is
Singh spoke about the problems of the women farmers and how they have
to face problems. She said it is the women who are working on the field
and do not get legitimate acknowledgement for the same. Women are not
given priority in the NREGA, Indira Awas Yojana and all other schemes,
which are totally dominated by men. It is important that we focus on
the work of women and organize them.
Lata Maurya was equally vociferous on the issue of male chauvinism with
in the organsiations. Women find it difficult as there is virtually
no encouragement and solidarity by the male colleagues. It is important
that women be encouraged and given task and support by the male friends.
most thought provoking statement came from Urmila, from Chitrakoot.
Narrating her own struggle and growing patriarchical values even among
the ‘civil society’, she hit them hard. The loud voice with emotion
actually rattled the audience and all those who witnessed her speak
realized that women’s day has finally arrived in Uttar-Pradesh. Gone
are the days when you would find submissive women working in civil society
and adhering the patriarchical values. Now, the things are changing
fast and women are deciding about their choices and preferences. She
was very unhappy with some of the male members attitude towards women.
‘Even the social sector men have not got rid of the tainted vision
and attitude that they have towards women’, she lambasted. The challenges
before the Dalit women are double as she has to fight not only the caste
forces outside her community but also the patriarchy with in the community.
The identity politics does not allow the issues of women to be highlighted
for the fear of changing power equations. Urmila said that a fight for
women’s right can not happen unless we take a strong stand against
the patriacarchical forces, demand women’s right over property and
land. Women’s struggle has to be inclusive and not in isolation
as many of us might feel. It is not just economic battle but battle
of mind, culture and society, she said.
Urmila finished her remarkable speech, she got a standing ovation from
all the women particularly the girl students from Hyderabad. It was
thought provoking and equally inspiring presentation.
has a substantial Muslim populace. Uttar-Pradesh had in past some of
the most influential Muslim leaders of the country. It has some of the
oldest Muslim lineages, sufi shrines, Mosques, Imambaras which reflect
the rich cultural heritage that Islam has brought to India. During the
freedom struggle the Muslim fought with Hindus in liberating India and
the combined cultural heritage and mutual understanding of the traditions
of each other had been the hallmark of Muslim rule in India.
the independence, Uttar-Pradesh was dogged in a number of communal disturbances.
A large number of Muslim dominated towns like Meerut, Moradabad, Aligarh,
Kanpur, Lucknow were the target of the communal agenda.
became hotbed for communal and caste politics and at the end of the
day Muslims became further isolated in the entire scheme of things.
Their marginalisastion was systematic and nobody was interested in saying
that they too had a problem. Once you raise the issue of backwardness
of Muslims, it is easier for the communal and sectarian forces to term
you as ‘appeasing’ the Muslims. The condition of the poor and women
remain a matter of grave concern among the Muslim community. The drop
out rate is high and the civil society organizations have rarely reached
them. Unfortunately, there have been little efforts to develop civil
society organizations in the community. Most of the civil society work
is the religious-charitable and therefore on contenscious issues like
education, health and empowerment, not much have been
achieved. We do not find women’s Self Help Groups among Muslims. A
very limited number of people or activists understand the predicament
of Muslims. Without understanding the socio-cultural environment of
the community, we try to become judgmental on each
issue they face. The activists do not go there with a feeling of working
with them but more with a loud mouth to preach them. It is here that
a number of young Muslim minds joined hand and decided to start a network
named as ‘Rehnuma’, which means leader.
with her strong viewpoint, Mohammad Nasim Ansari, from Tarun Chetna
Sansthan, Pratapgarh said that time has come to focus on the poverty
and educational issues of the Muslim community. The community is legging
behind and the developmental programmes are not reaching the community.
No attempt is being made to involve the community in the social sector
and it is a matter of grave concern, said Ansari. He cited Sachar Commission’s
report to point out the growing isolation of Muslims. Time has come
when the community and Community Based Organisations should take charge
of it and do something. Nasim bhai said the Mirco finance is a must
to provide support to Muslim organizations in the rural sector.
Bhai of the Sadbhavana mission was more categorical about the community’s
issue. Today, being Muslim is a crime. Your identity is the baggage
you have to carry all the time. You do not get houses on rent, nor even
at the hotels once the owner comes to know that you are a Muslim. He
said that the community must focus on women’s development, health
and education. Land Right campaign for Muslim women is essential if
we want to mainstream our work, he said. He blamed the Muslim political
leadership for betraying the aspirations of the community. He also said
that nothing specific has been done as a civil society among the Muslims.
He wanted that even SHGs among the Muslim women are very rare and his
organization is now trying to venture into the micro finance. Unfortunately,
things move very slowly for the Muslims and support does not come from
the donor agencies. In many areas, the condition of Muslims remain a
matter of concern and they are legging far behind from other marginalized
communities like the Dalits and OBCs.
Begum wanted that the first and foremost priority should be to provide
education to the Muslims. She further emphasized that girls education
was a must for the Muslims. ‘ How can we gain from reservation, if
there are not enough people’, she opined. She also spoke against those
men who keep their women inside their houses. Today, she said, if I
am here, it is because of our own grit and determination.
Azma Aziz mentioned that need of the hour is to look inward also. She
said that as Muslims, we face many problems which are related
to terrorism and extremism but not all Muslims are like that. The danger
of stereotyping has made the community more conservative.
‘ We need to come out at our own. Our parents must support us. She
thanked her father for her bringing that despite from a Nawab
family, she was still not wearing a Burqa.
Sehroj Fatima, from Chitrakoot opined that Muslim women have to come
out from the purdah system. We can not allow our women to sit at home
and remain uneducated. Education was the key. The organizations must
support Muslim women in their endeavour to progress.
Aftab Alam, Behraich, talked about Muslims problems in general and wanted
all the organizations to join hand. He also spoke about the Islamic
session on 23rd of January, 2008
Mr Ram Chandra Prasad
Report of activities
four regional workshops with the support of International Land Coalition,
Rome to develop land literacy movement in four regions of Uttar-Pradesh.
are the details of the workshops
1. March 21st-March 22nd 2007 : First Workshop in Chaurichaura,
by the local partner of SDF-UPLA, Jan Kalyan Sansthan, in which about
80 participans took part from various districts of Deoria, Kushingar,
Maharajganj, Gorakhpur, Basti, Siddhartha Nagar, Sant Kabir Nagar, Ghazipur,
Balia, Azamgarh, Mau. Some other participants came from state of Bihar,
Chhatisgarh and Uttarakhand. Local Forest officials and revenue officials
May 19-20 : The workshop was organized in Chandan Chowki, amidst the
Dudhwa National Park, Lakhimpur Khiri and the main aim was to involve
the Tharu tribal community in the entire land process which is facing
threat from the forest department. About 65 community activists from
various districts of Lakhimpur Khiri, Maharajganj, Gonda, Shahjahanpur,
Sitapur, Maharajganj and from Uttarakhand state participated in the
18th-19th, 2007: Two days workshop was organized
in Varanasi. The focused area was Kaimur area of the tribal who are
facing threat to their livelihood. The training was joined by over 80
participants from districts of Sonbhadra, Chandauli, Varanasi, Ghazipur,
Sant Raidas Nagar, Koshambi, Allahabad and Chitrakoot. Participants
felt that the land movement in the tribal areas need to be strengthened
the tribal and Dalits should be given more training about their rights
so that they can stand against illegal displacement.
October 6th-7th, 2007: The land literacy-training programme
in the last phase was organized in Chitrakoot to cater the needs of
the people of Bundelkhand. Over 104 participants discussed various issues
related to land in two days and understood other mechanism to ensure
the mapping and measurement of the land. Bundelkhand is facing severe
drought and the farmers are committing suicide. The aid agencies are
working yet people remain poor and hungry. Mr Hari Shankar Singh of
Chitrakoot Sewa Ashram trained the participants in the basic measurement
techniques. Prof Amarjeet Singh and Prof Vinod Shankar Singh from Chitrakoot
Gramodyog Vishwavidyalaya also participated in the programme. The participants
came from Banda, Chitrakoot, Jalaun, Jhansi, Urai, Allahabad, Kanpur,
Varanasi, Koshambi, Fatehpur districts.
of UP Land Alliance:
kilometer long Padyatra was conducted by SDF-UPLA and other partners,
which started from Ghughali town of Maharajganj district and culminated
at Chaurichaura town of Gorakhpur district on June 22nd,
2007. The Padyatra covered over 170 villages in four districts of Maharajganj,
Kushingar, Deoria and Gorakhpur and raised the consciousness of the
people about their land and livelihood rights. The Padyatra covered
many rivers like Chhoti Gandak, Badi Gandak, Rapti, Kurna Nala, Gurra
and Rapti. It raised the issue of environmental degradation and its
impact on the livelihood of the farmers in the region. Over one thousand
people participated in the March from Tilakwania village to Ghughali
town with the Padyatris on the very first day. A similar number of farmers
predominantly women farmers participated in the rally on the last day
Convention: Over 300 activists from different organizations, individuals
participated in the convention at the Chhedi lal Dharmshala from January
21st, to January 23rd. The two days were made to discuss various
issues confronting the society and the third day the UPLA’s business
of Land Literacy Manual
four workshops in different regions and interactive sessions with different
communities made things easier for the literacy manual: Bhumi Sakhsharata
ki aur’ and the manual was out in the Lucknow Convention. It has been
welcomed by all the activists at the grassroots, who do not find information
on their basic needs. With the books they felt that they have been empowered.
The manual will help organizations to spread land literacy movement
to further heights.
Survey for the landlessness
is being conducted by SDF and UPLA regarding landlessness vis a vis
communities. Perhaps such community survey has not been done in the
past because basically the enumerators club all the Dalits and all the
OBCs and gives an entirely generalized picture. Keeping in view of the
different identities among the Dalit-Bahujans in Uttar-Pradesh, SDF
developed a questionnaire and circulated it to many communities in UP.
The survey work is still going and will have some more time before we
come out with a detailed analysis of the landlessness among the communities.
issues related to land in UP (a brief analysis of the various view points
in different workshops including the Lucknow Convention)
Land is in the papers but people do not have its possessions.
Many poor have been tilling the land for years but do not have any papers,
Many people have land in the forest area. They have land papers but
forest department refuse to accept them
Problem of cadastre management.
Communal land in the possession of the powerful land grabbers.
Bonded labour in their own land. This problem mainly exists in both
the Terai region where the tribal can not sell land to non-tribals.
But over the period their entire land has fraudulently gone to the outsiders.
The land in the name of ponds, rivers also grabbed by the powerful people
of the village.
Land Ceiling Act has rarely been implemented.
New instruments of land grabbing in various parts of Uttar-Pradesh particularly
Bundelkhand by the politicians, NGOs, CBOs, powerful people in
the name of temples, mutths, Gaushalas (cowherd), Schools and various
other ‘public welfare trusts’.
Bhudan Land and Ceiling land issues have been pending in various courts.
Many people from outside got the land entitlement fraudulently particularly
in Bundelkhand, Allahabad, Deoria, Kushingar which are the bordering
districts with Madhya Pradesh and Bihar.
Issue of environmental degradation resulting in pollution of rivers
The changing pattern of rivers in Eastern UP with new
embankment every year, thousands of hectares of land is wasted with
Issue of hunger and starvation and loss of livelihood of the most marginalized
Implementing problems of NREGS
Issues of Dalits and tribal and violence by
the state and other powerful actors.
Demand for women rights over resources.
Need to document the community knowledge of farming, land tilling and
even conflict resolution.
1. Land literacy is much in demand everywhere including other states.
2. Land Manual in the local language has helped the grassroots activists
understand various issues, which were not available to them earlier.
3. Diverse Dalit communities joined hand and are part of UPLA and feel
an ownership. First time, an organization represents one of the widest
sections of communities.
4. Growing women’s participation and representation in the main body
of UPLA. UPLA has been able to train women leaders of the marginalized
communities and its determination to change the entire system of the
land rights movement to make it women Oriented has been welcomed
5. Mushahars in Mahrajganj used UPLA’s tools to get access to communal
land. Today several families have acquired the communal land of the
village and are tilling it.
6. In Deoria, UPLA’s Convenor, Ram Chandra Prasad, unearth a big scam
in the rural housing schemes meant for the Mushahar Community. UPLA
stood by the people and now the corrupt officials are behind the bar.
7. Developing leadership from the most marginalized communities in Uttar-Pradesh
has been of historical importance. It has been rare to see this transformation
in a state, which has been dominated by the upper elite civil society
movements. Even within the Dalit movements, the most marginalized communities
got marginalized. To the credit of UPLA, these different communities
are now hopeful.
8. Exchange visits: UPLA members have been able to see other parts of the
state. Many of them were taken to other states also for training programmes.
9. UPLA-SDF regularly monitored and fought for the rights of the Dalit
community in Shaheed Udham Singh Nagar, Uttarakhand. SDF fought the
case with the government and is now in the process of filing a Public
Interest Litigation ( PIL) in the Supreme Court to get the marginalized
UPLA community survey is in the process. It is unique of its kind as
will provide an insight of the landlessness of particular communities.
By the end of the year, we will be able to bring out
this detailed analysis as survey is still continuing. A vast data is
already fed in the computer.
Identity politics and NGOs who work on the different agendas
Gender and caste biases
Illiteracy, superstition and religiosity
Too much political interference
Overcoming lingual difficulty
Too much family rituals
plan of action
Focus on new leadership and new alliances particularly those outside
the so-called civil society and more based on community initiatives
including individual activists.
Supporting the local initiatives for the land and livelihood rights
including forest and water of the communities.
More emphasis on women’s land right and developing women’s leadership
without dividing the communities on gender basis.
Workshops for Land Literacy and human rights to be continued in all
the regions of the state.
5. Special initiative against corruption in NREGS, Indira Awaas, Forest
and other department and advocacy to
be done on case to case basis.
Collaborate with like-minded organizations and network on policy matters.
Providing more opportunities for UPLA activists and leaders for exchange
visits and leadership development programmes in other state as well
as internationally, if opportunity arises.
8. To complete the survey of the community based landlessness
9. Strengthening local farmer’s movement and fishermen movement in Poorvanchal
against the non-payments of dues as well as pollution of rivers by the
distilleries and sugar mills.
Developing community movement for land rights and livelihood rights
in communities like Tharus, Mushahars, Scavengers, Bansfors, Kols and
other marginalized communities.
More direct actions like Padyatras, protest marches, and cycle marches
and boat marches to strengthen the voices of the people and raising
the consciousness of the communities to fight for their right.
UPLA will not be leader; it will create leadership from the hitherto
UPLA’s future action plan is also inclusion of the Muslim community
in the mainstream framework. Muslims face severe bias in India and need
special action plan to raise their issues. UPLA has already developed
a Muslim organizations network named
as Rehnuma, which means leader.
Using right to information for getting more information on land in the
village and further the village mapping exercise.]
Towards a National Land Alliance as Bihar, Chhatisgarh, Andhra Pradesh,
Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh’s dalit-bahujan groups are keen to forge
such an alliance.
invididual as well as institutional members are based on every region
of Uttar-Pradesh. The regular local meetings have provided us enough
material with new people who are ready to take challenges.
with the active assistance of SDF has been very active in raising the
people’s issue. Whenever there is a call for action, UPLA members
reach and help the people in distress. That has emboldened our network.
voices are against oppression and all kind of exploitation. This unambiguous
stand against all kind of fundamentalism and oppression has given UPLA
lead. There are very few organizations and network who are so candid
in their approach against oppression and gender and caste injustice.
UPLA is a frontal organization which has provided representation to
the lowest of the low. In fact, among the major organizations in India
talking about land rights, it will be perhaps the only one, which has
Dalits, Dalit women, Adivasis, Muslim women and other backward communities
in the board. Most of the organizations have these communities as
‘ masses’ with selective elite as
‘leaders’. That makes UPLA different than any organizations of the
resources to develop a secretariat. In the absence of it, it is very
difficult to reach the people and provide them information. It is distressing
despite that fact, that UPLA has grown and reached so many people,
is a tribute to the spirit of UPLA member as well as SDF.
of information technology in the rural areas. While it is easier to
reach the international audiences provided we have information, it is
difficult to reach the rural activists, as many of the areas are still
difficult to reach. The regional organizations need to attach to Internet
and working office for them is the need of the hour.
of fast and immediate legal support network all over the state has depressed
people. As more fund flows for the show of strength by the NGOs, the
people feel betrayed that there is very little meant for them. We need
such support system, which can provide these services at the earliest.
leadership from the victims is a big challenge. They suffer from various
insecurities including a worry for their next meal. It is this reason
that organizations do not show the interest. SDF and UPLA have changed
this dynamism. We are not only supporting and promoting such leadership
but also profiling them everywhere and providing them opportunities.
That challenge needs to be met with bigger support internationally.
Land Alliance’s new board was executed. The previous board had following
1. Mr Raj Kapoor Rawat, Ghazipur,
2. Mr Ram Chandra Prasad, Deoria,
3. Mr Ram Bhuvan, Chauri Chaura,
Ms Rehana Begum, Saharanpur
5. Ms Rubeena Gulnar, Ghazipur
new board elected has following members.
1. Mr Ram Chandra Prasad, Deoria, Convenor
2. Ms Urmila, Karvi, Chitrakoot,
3. Ms Suman Singh, Ghatampur, Kanpur
4. Mr Ramashraya Sahni, Rudrapur, Deoria,
Ms Munni Begum, Pratapgarh
6. Mrs Ram Kali, Mushaharbasti, Malwabar, Deoria
7. Mr Nanda Chauhan, Lakhimpur Khiri,
8. Mr S.P.Tyagi, Lakhimpur Khiri,
9. Ms Hemwati, Lakhimpur Khiri,
Mr Omprakash, Chandauli
are two seats reserved for the Western Uttar-Pradesh and the representatives
will decide on it soon.
member will be ex-offico from SDF being its founder organization.
Executive board took some very important decisions after meeting.
were four committees.
1. Discipline Committee
2. Transparency Committee
3. Management Committee
4. Growth and Development Committee
names of these committees will be decided in the executive board meeting.
Apart from this other issues would also be taken care of.
need for these committees arose after growing demand for membership.
It was decided that we would have to be very careful to include new
members and judge about them. So a committee was constituted. Another
issue comes of transparency, since UPLA is growing and number of organizations
here are civil society organizations, it was decided that there should
be a Transparency committee so that our partners and individuals members
are aware of each action that we take and that no individual or organization
mis-represent us. In India, such things are quite normal when individuals
and organizations hoodwink about resource mobilization etc, therefore
keeping the high standard, we want to make it clear that if any one
has any complain against any of our colleagues behaviour, attitude related
to our network, the complaints could be addressed to the members of
the committee in writing and we will take proper action on that.
aim for discipline committee comes from that when the so-called civil
society and CBOs put their interest before the community and make their
problems look like community problems. It was aimed to bring like-minded
people and not every one and any one.
hope we will succeed in our venture.