Monthly Archives: July 2013

Recommendations of the GLP

The Ground-Level Panel comprises 14 members from diverse backgrounds living in poverty and experiencing marginalisation who came together for five days to deliberate on their responses and recommendations to the United Nations High-Level Panel report on the post-2015 global development framework. They were not members of any government, private or non-governmental organisations or associated with any political parties or trade unions. Instead, they drew on their own experiences of marginalisation and exclusion to provide a ‘ground-level’ reality check to the High-Level Panel. The group represented several identities – there were seven women, one transgender and six men in the team, of whom three were children, one was over 60 and eight hailed from rural areas whereas six were from urban areas and nine were landless. The group had four Muslims, one Christian, a free thinker and the rest Hindu. There were six Dalits and three tribals, one person each from a disaster affected and conflict area and three persons with disabilities.

The following are the recommendation of the group after the five day deliberative.

THE RECOMMENDATIONS

 Goal 1: Establish a corruption free society and state:Corruption is all-pervasive. Even national-level movements on corruption have been sidelined by political parties.

Goal 2: Promote Equity: The state shall recognise the need for creating a level-playing field so that everyone has an equal opportunity to realise their dreams. Therefore, there is need for reservation and targeted support, be they are poor, Dalits, tribals, minorities, women, the elderly, transgender, children, slums dwellers and people with disabilities.

Goal 3: Establish robust accountability mechanisms:There should be more transparency in the way that the state works and more information should be made available to the public, free of cost. This needs to build on the right to information and be proactive in sharing information. There should also be better grievance redressal mechanisms. An emphasis should also be placed on collectivisation of people.

Goal 4:Provide identities not doles: Groups that are excluded and marginalised – including the transgender community, people with disabilities, Dalits, religious minorities should all be recognised as equal citizens. Care should be taken to ensure that identities, rather than labels are established.
Goal 5: Create institutional spaces: to promote people’s participation in local governance and policy-making processes.

Goal 6: End discrimination and stigma: based on identities such as caste, language, disability, sexual orientation, gender, age, religion and region.

Goal 7: Abolish such traditions and practices that sustain discrimination in society:as the caste system, dowry system, female foeticide and purdah system.

Goal 8: Create stringent restrictions on the sale and promotion of alcoholic and other addictive substances: and sever the profit motive of the state in the sale of alcohol.

Goal 9: Facilitating awareness, sensitisation and collectivisation of citizens:of all groups of citizens, on issues of excluded and marginalised groups as well as laws and policies. At the same time, create an environment to facilitate the creation of collectives of people to achieve this.

Goal 10: Promote a safe and secure home environment: so that vulnerability at households does not expose family members, especially children, to more risk. It is also important to maintain their emotional health.

Goal 11: Promoting interests of agricultural labourers, poor farmers, peasants, tribals and slum dwellers and their rights: They should be protected from advancing corporate investments on land and resources.

Goal 12: Protect the environment: by creating stringent systems which deter companies and other business establishments from polluting the environment.

Goal 13: Enforce mechanisms to prevent tax evasion by corporates: This tax should be rightfully paid to Governments who can in turn use this for the development of the poor.

Goal 14: Creating and implementing rigidly, such systems that protect workers’ rights, including their minimum wage and social security: for all private enterprises and bring parity between government and private wages.
Goal 15: Promote gender equality and safety in public spaces: this should apply to men, women and transgenders.

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Voice for Change book series

As part of various initiatives to influence Post-2015 development agenda, Praxis has produced a “Voice For Change” series that attempts to enhance the participation of vulnerable communities to analyse, dialogue and voice their perspectives on development goals. Praxis acknowledges that participation is not a technical or a mechanical process that can be realised through the application of a set of static and universal tools and techniques, but rather a political process that requires challenging the existing power structure. It sees communities not as objects but as agents of change.

The first issue in the Voice For Change series, Collective Action for Safe Spaces by Sexual Minorities and Sex Workers is focused on members of the transgender, sex worker and homosexual communities who are often left out of development processes because of the stigma attached to their identities. The second book in the series, CityMakers Seeking to Reclaim Cities They Build, looks at the narratives woven together by communities of homeless, slum dwellers and the urban poor – collectively called CityMakers because of their role in making cities livable.

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Striding forward, hoping for success

“The poor give up under the weight of their predicament” (कठिनायों से लोग (गरीब ) थक के बैठ जाते है) : Usha, Indigenous Community, Gujarat, Panellist.

“We stride forward in the hope of success” (कामयाबी के उम्मीद लेकर हम चल रहे है): Nandalal, Citimaker from Delhi, Panellist.

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Burdened by predicament and angst on the one hand and energised by hope on the other, the Ground Level Panel comprising of 14 people from across India, living in poverty and experiencing various forms of marginalisation, deliberated on development goals (MDG and Post 2015) as it currently is, and how it should be. “If democracy binds us as a family, then why do we get excluded and treated differently”- wondered the panellists.

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The panel dissected this and many more issues threadbare, not from an academic perspective, but from their own and their communities’ life experiences. They did not stop with raising issues, but went on to look at the role of different players, stumbling blocks, a way forward and institutional mechanisms for bringing about change. Ground Level Panels are definitely emerging as a powerful tool for democratising policy making and for intra and inter community dialogue.

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It was a truly humbling experience to listen to this unadulterated, grounded take on the Post 2015 agenda. The breadth and depth of lived experiences that were shared during the deliberations make you wonder why, why are we deaf to the voices of people living in poverty, while making policies and taking decisions? Ravi, one of the panellists, struggling to form words due to his Cerebral Palsy, echoed the sentiments of the panel: “Is it that the government doesn’t understand our issues? No, they have deliberately chosen not to respond”. Shamsul, one of the panel members from the North East of India, likened it to the practice of cats being fed just survival ration, so that they would hunt rats – keep people in poverty and give them just enough crumbs to make them stand in lines to vote, once in five years. इनाम नहीं, नाम – “not doles, but identity and rights”, was the unanimous voice of the panellists.

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How long can we be deaf to these voices? How long will we keep them on cat ration? Not for too long if the energy and optimism that the panel reverberated are any indication. Let us stride forward in the hope of success.

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Tom Thomas, CEO, Praxis.

Tom Thomas, CEO, Praxis.

 

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“I got a job i…

“I got a job in a private company because I was the best candidate they had. But my appointment letter was withdrawn as soon as they came to know I lived in a resettlement site for slum-dwellers. I do not want reservation, but why discriminate against me because the government chose to uproot me from where I lived because I am poor?”

– Resident of a slum in Chennai.

Is the market democratic and non-discriminatory for those who have experienced poverty and marginalisation?

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July 17, 2013 · 11:08 am

Since last year…

Since last year, the government has been objecting to people like me selling flowers on the streets, saying street vendors add to the traffic congestion in the area and are a public nuisance. If the government and the police have their way, we will lose our livelihood.”

Street vendor in Delhi

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July 16, 2013 · 2:11 pm

Ground-Level Panel kicks off in Gurgaon,

Ground-Level Panel kicks off in Gurgaon, NCR with 14 participants from different parts of the country who have come to share their experiences and through collective knowledge evolve a response to the United Nations High-Level Panel on post-2015 development goals.
On Day One, participants spoke about where they came from and created an identity for themselves about the marginalisations they faced. Questions about caste-based discrimination, gender violence, apathy of the government, lack of opportunities for quality healthcare and education were some of the experiences that were shared. Why does the government expect physically and mentally challenged people to be looked after by their families? Why did one mother have to lose her child because she did not have anything to pledge for a loan to save him? What will make the state sit up and take notice about floods destroying lives, livelihoods, property year after year? Why should a transgender not have the right to adopt a child? How much fear of getting married at a young age can drive a girl to flee home? Is the Right To Information Act a panacea for all ills? These and many more questions came out of discussing key points in life and sharing them with the group.
The forthcoming days will look further at how to integrate these questions into the existing development policies and pave the way for a new one.

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The Panelists

The Ground-Level Panel consists of 14 members from diverse backgrounds living in poverty and experiencing marginalisation, who have come together for five days to deliberate on their responses and recommendations to the United Nations High-Level Panel report on the post-2015 global development framework.

They are not members of any government, private or non-governmental organisations or associated with any political parties or trade unions. Instead, the panelists draw on their experiences of marginalisation and exclusion to provide a ‘ground-level’ reality check to the High-Level Panel, co-chaired by the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and the Presidents of Indonesia and Liberia.

The panelists come from different parts of the country. They belong to different castes, religions and regions but what brings them together is their experience of being on the fringes of development.

As one participant says, “my only source of income – a phone booth I run – is threatened by the advent of mobile culture.” Another participant speaks about the annual floods that have marked his life, forcing him to move to the city looking for other sources of income. Millennium development goals notwithstanding, a participant remembers the shock with which she learnt that women in other parts of the country can choose their life partner. The construction of a commercial boating complex in a developing city meant the loss of home for one participant.

The idea is to understand how those who have experienced poverty feel about the way the High-Level Panel plans to “end extreme poverty in all its forms irreversibly in the context of sustainable development” and whether they are hopeful of it making a change in their lives. More significantly the aim is to enable people living in extreme poverty to evolve an inclusive development agenda – one that is of the people, for the people and by the people.

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