Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Yatra for rights

Public hearings for women and children is taking place in six districts of MP A special 'Yatra' has been organised in six districts of the Madhya Pradesh, which will engage communities to seek accountability from the state

'RIGHT TO FOOD’ campaign is an informal network of civil society organisations and individuals in the state of Madhya Pradesh. They are holding a month long campaign to raise concern and press for their demands for universalisation of Integrated Child Development System with quality and dignity, increasing minimum wages to Rs 133 per day and that in public distribution system, entitlement is given to beneficiaries with dignity.

Both these networks are committed to the realisation of the right to food and work. They believe (rightfully so) that the primary responsibility for guaranteeing basic entitlements rests with the state. The Constitution of India also upholds this.

In Madhya Pradesh, this group is actively raising concern on the issue of food rights, livelihood issues, and promoting debate on the issue of food sovereignty and the role of the state. A special ‘Yatra’ or a walk was organised in the six districts of the state of Madhya Pradesh, which engaged communities to seek accountability from the state for their rights. These districts are Chhattarpur (two blocks), Tikamgarh, Bhind, Panna, Ashok Nagar and Satna.

This one month long yatra started on October 26, 2007 and will cover 98 villages of these districts. The focus will be on driving towards better implementation of various government schemes like National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, Integrated Child Development Scheme and Targeted Public Distribution System, which will aim to benefit communities, especially women and children of the state. During this yatra, participating organisations are going to collect field data relating to implementation of state’s various schemes. ‘Right to Food’ campaign will compile the data at the state level and release a comprehensive report on the status of welfare schemes in these six districts.

Volunteers from each organisation will mobilise communities by moving on foot in the district for 6-7 days, and culminating the yatra by holding a public hearing at the end. Local member of legislative assembly members, the minister in charge and district administration will be invited to be a part of the public hearings. Community meetings to help build the momentum will precede these and will be held during the campaign. This whole campaign will not only help to support better implementation of these schemes but even contribute in increasing awareness within communities about these schemes, and how they can avail them.

Anil Gulati

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