Monday, November 27, 2006

UDHR - Heroes

UDHR - Heroes

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Understanding Between Seven Political Parties Alliance and Maoist

Understanding Between Seven Political Parties Alliance and Maoist

Respecting people's aspiration for democracy, peace and progress expressed through repeated historic people's movement and struggles since 1951,

Reaffirming commitments to the 12-point and 8-point agreements, and 25-point code of conduct between the seven parties and the Maoists along with other agreements, understandings, code of conducts and letter sent to the United Nations stating similar perspectives by the Maoists and the Nepal government,

Pledging for progressive restructuring of the state by resolving prevailing problems related with class, ethnicity, regional and gender differences,

Reiterating commitments to competitive multiparty democratic system, civil liberties, fundamental rights, human rights, complete press freedom, rule of law and all other norms and values of democratic system,

Guaranteeing the fundamental rights of the Nepalese people to cast their votes in the constituent assembly polls without any kind of fear,

By putting democracy, peace, prosperity, progressive social and economic transformation, independence, integrity, sovereignty and prestige of the state in the centre-stage and to implement the commitments made by both the sides to hold the election to constituent assembly by mid June 2007 in a free and fair manner, the following decisions have been taken from the meeting of the top leaders of the seven parties and the Maoists today, November 8, 2006.

I. Relating to the Implementation of the Past Agreements

1. Implement all the agreements, understanding and code of conduct signed earlier - fully, sincerely and strongly

2. Form a high-level commission to investigate and publicise the whereabouts of citizens stated to have been disappeared by the state and the Maoists in the past

3. Accelerate the process of returning the houses, land and properties confiscated in the past. Ensure the environment so that displaced people would be able to return to their villages. For this purpose, committees would be formed in districts comprising representatives from both the sides. Complete all these works within one month.

4. Make public announcement regarding the withdrawal of all accusations and charges leveled by the state at the leaders and the cadres of the CPN (Maoist) and release all political prisoners from both the sides.

II. Relating to Management of Arms and Army

In order to hold the elections to constituent assembly in a peaceful, free and fair environment and for democratisation and restructuring of the Nepali Army as per the feelings expressed in 12-point agreement, 8-point understanding, 25-point code of conduct and 5-point letter sent to the United Nations, the following works would be carried out:

Relating to Maoist Army

As per the commitments expressed in the letter sent to the United Nations by the Nepal government and the Maoists on August 9, the combatants of the Maoists would be sent to following cantonments. The United Nations would do the necessary verification and monitoring of them.

Main Camps would be in the Following Places:

1. Kailali, 2. Surkhet, 3. Rolpa, 4. Palpa, 5. Kavre, 6. Sindhuli 7. Ilam. There would be three smaller camps located in the periphery of each of these main camps

All the arms and ammunitions would be securely stored in the camps except those needed for providing security of the camp after the Maoist combatants are sent to the cantonments. They will be put under a single lock system and the concerned side would keep the key of this lock. For the UN to monitor it, a device with siren as well as recording facility will be installed. When there is need to examine the stored arms, the UN would do so in the presence of the concerned side. Prepare the details of technology including camera for monitoring as per the agreement among the Nepal government, the Maoists and the United Nations.
On completion of cantonment of the Maoist combatants, Nepal government would take up the responsibility for providing ration and other facilities to them
The interim cabinet would form a special committee to carry out monitoring, integration and rehabilitation of the Maoist combatants
Make arrangement for the security of the Maoist leaders as per the agreement with the Nepal government

Relating to Nepali Army

1. The Nepali Army would be confined to the barracks as per the commitments of the letter sent to the United Nations. Guarantee that its arms would not be used for or against any side. Keep similar quantity of arms of the Nepali Army in the store, seal it with single-lock system and give the key to the concerned side. For the UN to monitor it, a device with siren as well as recording facility will be installed. When there is need to examine the stored arms, the UN would do so in the presence of the concerned side. Prepare the details of technology including camera for monitoring as per the agreement among the Nepal government, the Maoists and the United Nations..

2. The cabinet would control, mobilize and manage the Nepali Army as per the new Military Act. The interim cabinet would prepare and implement the detailed action plan of democratisation of the Nepali Army by taking suggestions from the concerned committee of the interim parliament. This includes works like determination of the right number of the Nepali Army, prepare the democratic structure reflecting the national and inclusive character, and train them on democratic principles and human rights values

3. Continue the works of the Nepali Army such as border security, security of the conservation areas, protected areas, banks, airport, power house, telephone tower, central secretariat and security of VIPs.

III. Relating to the subjects of the Interim Constitution

1. Relating to Interim Constitution

1. Finalise the interim constitution presented by the interim constitution drafting committee as per the agreements reached today

2. The reinstated House of Representatives would promulgate the interim constitution and the newly formed interim legislature would endorse it.

2. Relating to the Monarchy

1. No rights on state administration would remain with the King

2. Bring the properties of the late King Birendra, late Queen Aishwarya and their family members under the control of the Nepal government and use it for the welfare purposes through a trust.

3. All properties acquired by King Gyanendra by the virtue of him being the King (like palaces of various places, forests and conservation areas, heritage having historical and archaeological importance) would be nationalized.

4. Determine the fate of the institution of monarchy by the first meeting of the Constituent Assembly through simple majority vote.

3. Relating to Interim Legislature (parliament)

The interim legislature would be unicameral of the following type:
There would be 209 members of the seven parties and others who are members of the present lower and upper house (excluding those who opposed the people's movement). Since the Left Front does not have its representation in the current parliament, its representation in the interim parliament would be determined based on understanding.
ii. 73 members from the side of the Maoists

iii. 48 members from among the sister organisations and professional bodies, oppressed ethnic communities and regions and political personalities (to be nominated based on understanding)

(total number: 330)

But those who stood against the people's movement would not be given membership in the interim parliament.

1. The reinstated House of Representatives and National Assembly would be dissolved once the formation of the interim parliament is complete.

2. The people's government, people's court run by the CPN (Maoist) would be dissolved on the day of the formation of the interim parliament.

3. Run the interim parliament as per the political understanding

4. Relating to Interim Government

1. Form the interim cabinet as per the understanding

2. Determine the work division and structure of the interim parliament as per understanding

3. The interim government would work as per the aspiration of the people's movement, political understanding and culture of cooperation

5. Relating to Judiciary

1. Follow the norms and values and concept of the independent judiciary

2. Make the judiciary committed to the aspiration of the people's movement, democracy and interim constitution

3. Institute a constitutional court to finalise disputes regarding the constituent assembly

6. Relating to Constitutional Bodies

1. A new constitutional council will be formed that will include the Prime Minister, Chief Justice and the Speaker of the interim parliament, which will recommend appointments at the constitutional bodies. Such appointments will be based on specific criteria.

2. The appointments in the Election Commission will be completed on the basis of understanding.

7. Relating to Local Bodies

Interim local bodies will be formed in district, city and village level on the basis of agreement between the seven political parties and the Maoists.

8. Relating to Citizenship Problem

Distribute citizenship to all Nepalis who have been deprived of their citizenship certificate before the election of the constituent assembly
Considering mid-April 1990 as the base (cut off) year, all Nepalese citizens who were born before that date and have been continuously living in Nepal since then will be provided with citizenship certificate.

Other provisions regarding citizenship will be according to the provisions mentioned in the law.

9. Regarding the Election of the Constituent Assembly

The interim cabinet will be given the authority to ascertain the date to hold the election of the constituent assembly by mid-June 2007.

The election of the constituent assembly will be based on mixed electoral system. 205 members will be elected through First-Past-The-Post system. 204 members will be elected as per the proportional representation system on the basis of votes won by the political parties. A law in this regard will be made after consultation with the Election Commission.

While appointing the candidates, the political parties should ensure proportional representation of oppressed groups, region, Madheshi, Women, Dalit and other groups.

16 members will be nominated by the interim Council of Ministers from among distinguished persons.

The total number of members of the constitutional assembly will be 425.

Nepalese who are 18 years or above at the time when the interim constitution is promulgated will be eligible to vote.

Monitoring of the election of the constituent assembly will be done by the United Nations.

10. Structure of the State

To end discriminations based on class, ethnicity, lingual, gender, cultural, religion and region and to deconstruct the centralised and unitary structure of the state and to reconstruct it into an inclusive, democratic and forward looking state.
A high level commission will be formed to suggest on the restructuring of the state.

Final decision regarding the restructuring of the state will be made by the constituent assembly.

11. Directive Principles of Socio- Economic Transformation
To end all forms of feudalism, a common minimum program will be prepared for socio-economic transformation on the basis of mutual agreement and they will be implemented.

Formulate policies to implement scientific land reform program by doing away with the feudal land ownership.
To adopt policies that will protect and promote national industries and resources.

To ascertain the rights of the citizens on sectors like education, health, shelter, employment and food security.

Policies will be adopted to provide land and socio-economic security to backward groups like landless, bonded labourers, tillers, Haruwa-charuwa and other such groups, which are socio-economically backward.

To adopt policies to take strict actions against the people who have worked in government positions and have amassed huge amount of properties through corruption.

Prepare a common development concept that will help in socio-economic transformation of the country and will also assist in ensuring the country's prosperity in a short period of time.

Follow policies ascertaining the professional rights of workers and increase investment on sectors like promoting industries, trade and export and increase employment and income generating opportunities.

IV. Relating to the Management of the Conflict Victims
1. Provisions will be made for providing proper relief, respect and resettlement for the family members of the people who have died due to the conflict and for the ones who have been disabled.

2. Provide relief to the family members of the people who have been disappeared on the basis of the report presented by the investigation commission.

3. Carry out special programs to rehabilitate the people who have been displaced due to the conflict; to provide relief in case of destruction of private and public properties; and to reconstruct the destroyed infrastructures.

4. Conduct investigation about those who were involved in gross violation of human rights at the time of the conflict and those who committed crime against humanity. Form a high level Truth and Reconciliation Commission to create an environment for social reconciliation.

V. Miscellaneous

1. A high-level committee will be formed as per understanding to monitor if the agreement have been implemented.

2. The government will take action against anyone involved in acting against the code of conduct, agreement and laws.

3. At the time of the election of the constituent assembly, the political parties will be free to present their policies regarding republic, socio-economic transformation, referendum, election system and other such issues in which an agreement has not been reached now.

VI. Time Schedule

1. To conclude comprehensive peace agreement between Nepal government and the CPN (Maoists) by November 16, 2006

2. That all the Maoist combatants would gather into the camps by November 21, 2006 as stated in 2(1) and store the arms. The United Nations would do their verification and monitoring.

3. As stated in 2(5), the Nepali Army would remain confined in barrack by November 21, 2006, keep the specified number of arms in the store and the United Nations would conduct its monitoring.

4. To complete the interim constitution by November 21, 2006

5. To promulgate the interim constitution by November 26, 2006 , establish the interim legislature and dissolve the House of Representatives and National Assembly

6. Form the interim cabinet by December 1, 2006


Chairman, CPN (Maoists)

Girija Prasad Koirala
Prime minister and president of the Nepali Congress

Madhav Kumar Nepal
General secretary of CPN (UML)

Sher Bahadur Deuba
President of Nepali Congress Democratic

Amik Sherchan
Deputy prime minister and chairman of People's Front Nepal

Bharat Bimal Yadav
Vice president of NSP (Anandi Devi)

Narayan Man Bijukchhe
President of NWPP

C. P. Mainali
Chairman of Left Front

November 8, 2006

Note of dissent by the UML

Agreeing for the implementation of the subjects stated above as all other parties have agreement on those, our party has following differences:

1. The UML believes that the issue of whether to keep the monarchy or not should be determined through the referendum along with the election to constituent assembly

2. The UML believes that it would be most democratic to adopt the proportional system for election to the constituent assembly.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Declaration adopted at the Satyagraha Conference.

Declaration adopted at the Satyagraha Conference.

Noting that:

The key objectives of the conference are:

· Analyze causes of conflict and violence
· Begin to broaden conversation around Satyagraha
· To examine how to improve impact of the pro-peace movement
· To examine the possibility of setting up a Centre for Nonviolence in South Africa.

Key points raised were:

1. Education

Ø “Value-based education”, together with non-violence and Satyagraha principles must be integrated into school curriculum and programmes.
Ø We must work with educators to develop new non-violent ways of managing children. Their needs to be a Paradigm shift from punishment as the answer, to changing people through love- agape.
Ø Education is key to raising spiritual awareness, which is important as it makes us fearless.
Ø We need to learn from the illustration of how the pioneering and visionary approaches of Gandhi and Mandela set new standards for peace, justice and reconciliation, not only for South Africa and for India but for the world.
Ø Films as educational material are important. It is easy to make a violent film, but quite difficult to make a philosophical film based upon the teachings of Gandhiji and Nelson Mandela.

2. Gender:

Ø We need to have programmes to break down gender stereotypes, which need to find expression in the content and structure of the school curriculum.
Ø We need to address the issues of patriarchy globally because the values we imbibe from our mother and father are the determinants of what kind of society is built.

3. Globalization:

Ø We need to extend Satyagraha to strategize around a response to globalization and international economic exploitation.
Ø We must work with global social movements and strengthen them to keep in check the negative effects of globalization being cognizant of the fact that Global social movements are no match for the ideological propaganda of the global powerful.
Ø With the combination of industrialization and technology, it may be possible to make a truthful anti-structural violence within a needs-based framework, not just a rights-based framework.
Ø Rather than a replacement of the free market, the focus should be on intelligent, principled intervention by government.
Ø Market forces do not exist independently- it functions because people engage in the process. People can use their power to influence the forces that be through disengagement. Non-cooperation can be a powerful tool.

3. Individual transformation:

Ø Gandhian ideals are not only about action, but about individual transformation, and personal search for Spiritual Truth.
Ø The power of meditation and silence is important but we must be mindful that meditation without service to humanity is narcissistic. Action without meditation can be self-serving!
Ø We need to clarify within ourselves whether we are only concerned about the spiritual lessons of Gandhiji or about Satyagraha, for we need a combination of the two to achieve our goals.
Ø Ubuntu needs to govern our lives once more

4. Use of arts to transform society:

Ø We need to promote a change in our mindsets and government policies that promote arts and explore the connection between the arts and peace and the dynamics between the two.

5. International support:

Ø It is time to form an anti-colonialism forum which can assist Satyagraha movements.
Ø We need to seek out the commonalities between oppressed communities and unite to help each other by using our combined voices to get support from bodies such as the UN.

6. Intolerance Discrimination and exploitation:

Ø Religious intolerance needs to be highlighted and exposed.
Ø We need to ensure that the Faith Based Organisations (FBO) and civil Non governmental organizations are brought together and are directly involved in the policy-making process with regard to women and children.
Ø FBO’s must be the conscience of governments.
Ø Encourage communities to testify on behalf of the children whose voices are not heard.
Ø Begin immediately with a longer term approach of ensuring that there is a change of attitudes to child-raising.
Ø Mediators do not solve problems, they establish environments for the disputants to solve their own problems.
Ø If we opt out of a problem situation we deserve what we get. Nothing!
Ø The people of goodwill must speak out

7. Power of Media:

Ø Independent media that reports on what happens on the ground is an important precondition to fighting injustice.

8. Politics:

Ø There is no politics without religion, and no religion without politics.
Ø Lobby national government to expedite the process of enacting important legislations.

9. Youth participation:

Ø Another key recommendation was to ensure that Satyagraha interventions target young people.

10. Demilitarization:

Ø Agreed that there is a need for greater mobilization of communities who will campaign for demilitarization.

It was suggested that we have a small follow-up group to think through how these ideas will work in practice, or raise it in plenary as a key recommendation.

Now therefore:

We, the peace activists from 14 countries and 107 organisations, who gathered in Durban, South Africa from 11- 13 September 2006 to commemorate the centenary of Satyagraha, declare:
1. That the growing economic and political inequality in the world is leading to escalating violent conflict, deepening poverty, disease, environmental degradation and dehumanizing of people;
2. That there is continuing conflict in various parts of the world resulting in loss of life and livelihoods which is particularly affecting women and children;
3. That the exploitation of workers, in particular farm workers, and resources of the world is unsustainable and leads to escalating poverty, the sacrifice of human dignity and places the very future of our planet in jeopardy;
4. That the use of religion, ethnicity, culture and language to create social cleavage resulting in conflict and loss of life, is increasing;
5. That the situation, outlined in paragraph 1 to 4 above, if left unabated will lead to the irreversible destruction of the world
Further that:
I. We understand Satyagraha to be a philosophy informed by the highest standards of ethics and morality and its essence to be:
1. respect for all life
2. tolerance of diverse views and opinions
3. the abhorrence of all types of violence, exploitation, genocide and injustice at all levels and
4. the pursuit of Truth
Accordingly we affirm that:-1. Satyagraha as a tool is more relevant today than ever before,
2. Satyagraha enables solidarity among all people across barriers of ethnicity, class, caste, gender or religion
3. Satyagraha restores dignity to oppressed people and empowers them to establish peace through nonviolent action
4. It is incumbent upon each one of us to rededicate ourselves to the values of Satyagraha, the precepts of Ubuntu, or Ujamaa as guiding principles.
5. These humanist philosophies which reawaken human qualities in each one of us will contribute to the quest to restore the dignity of all humanity
We therefore pledge to take forward the struggle for nonviolence and the peaceful resolution of conflict whether in our own lives, or in our organizations, locally, nationally or internationally by uniting together to work together as participants at this conference to:-
a. establish Centres for Non-Violence based on the principles of Satyagraha and Ubuntu;
b. Lobby for the inclusion of the basic principles of Satyagraha within local regional and international fora such as the World Social Forum
c. Continue our dialogue and
d. Broaden our engagement with organs of civil society to create a global movement for peace and non-violence through Satyagraha, and to work to end injustice, dehumanizing violence, destruction and economic exploitation and oppression of a large section of society.
Acknowledging Gandhiji’s words:
“Willing submission to social restraint for the sake of the well-being of the whole society enriches both the individual and the society of which one is a member”
We acknowledge that tolerance, respect, willingness to listen and submission to higher values of love compassion and justice must guide us and the leaders of nations in the quest for solutions to the many complex problems faced by society at local, regional and international levels.

Report of Conference: Satyagraha –A Pro Peace Agenda

11-13 September held at the Fred Crooks Sports Centre Durban University of Technology

Opened with an interfaith prayer/meditation in the amphitheatre outside the sports hall, conducted by Rev. Ellen O’Brien

First session: ( open to the public- about 400 people attended) was chaired by Mr. Paddy Kearney who explained that the objective of the conference was to recognize Satyagraha as the most important means to solve conflict. It is to be seen as an integral part of the lives of people across the world. More specifically, it is hoped to prepare a Conference Declaration and to establish a Centre for non-violence in Durban
The key objectives of the conference were:

· Analyze causes of conflict and violence
· Begin to broaden conversation around Satyagraha
· To examine how to improve impact of the pro-peace movement
· To examine the possibility of setting up a Centre for Nonviolence in South Africa.

The Vice Chancellor Prof. Goba welcomed the guests to the Durban Institute of Technology and in his address recognized the importance of such a conference and the need for the promotion of nonviolence and peace in today’s violent society.

Deputy Mayor, Logie Naidoo welcomed the delegates on behalf of the City

He emphasized that given the significance of 9-11, it is hoped that a powerful message of a new peaceful world order could ring across the world today. Gandhiji’s message of peace, tolerance and understanding is now more important than ever.

Whilst the celebration of Satyagraha is important, more critical is the underlying message. He argued that a further key challenge is to allow the message of peace to resonate in the continent. In fact the importance of developing Africa as a strong and vibrant economy relies on a foundation of peace.

Satyagraha / Sarvodaya in India by Consul General of India, Mr. Shringla

In tracing the history of Satyagraha movement, he pointed out that this philosophy which struck at the fundamental nature of government depended on the will of citizens. He explained the importance of Sarvodaya (fusing the individual with the greater self or the welfare of all). It is about reconstructing the human mind, and re-orienting human society.

He noted that these two concepts which were developed in SA were popularized in India. He also stressed the strong relationship between India and South Africa, noting that the Prime Minister will be visiting Durban, the first city ever to be officially visited in Africa!

He closed by echoing the sentiments of the Deputy Mayor, stressing the importance of Satyagraha as it relates to Ubuntu, one of the founding principles of Africa, and the need to develop the continent of Africa.


Speaking about the application and significance of Gandhiji’s humanism, he challenged us to think about how to take Satyagraha further in everyday life. He emphasized the importance of adaptation, and made note of the fact that one of Gandhi’s strengths was that he was able to adapt his methods to new conditions and situations- though it may seem a bit inconsistent, Gandhi had an underlying consistency to what he was doing. Non-violence is not a ready-made device or an easy way out, but demands constant refinement and re-application to the world around us. In the critical years ahead, Mr. Seedat urges us, not to be found wanting.


Mr. Meyer argued that various reasons have been put forward from punitive measures by international agencies against South Africa to local struggle and pressure from the people. He argued that the acceptance of the need to have “unconditional dialogue” as common South Africans was the underlying reason for the change.

Mr. Ebrahim Ismail Ebrahim

Mr. Ebrahim argued that it was the Gandhian philosophy that underpinned the struggle against apartheid. The NIC, he noted kept this philosophy alive through the defiance campaigns.

He reflected on the role that former President Mandela played in emphasizing two key principles; majority rule and ensuring that the fears of the white minority were addressed. These laid the foundation for reconciliation during the negotiations process in South Africa.


As a student involved in the sit-ins in the US and having gone to jail 27 times, Prof LaFayette reflected on the importance of non-violence which provided a powerful alternative to violence as a means to transformation.

He argued that Gandhiji helped them to understand:
· that we are also part of the problem, and that real change begins with the individual. People need to make a conscious decision that they will withdraw from being part of oppression.
· the need to mobilize communities as a critical tool to achieve transformation
· the importance of intense training of leadership so that they share a common philosophy
· that non-violence must be applied in our organizations. It must be used not just externally but also internally within organisations.
· He noted the need to begin to internationalize non-violence in order to achieve world peace



In outlining four imperial episodes each of which responded to historical disjunctures, Prof Terreblanche argued that the US has been establishing over the last sixty years international open markets. He argued that a neo-liberal system of rampant capitalism has developed a system of rewards and penalties for all countries, with transnational companies co-opting local elites and penalizing the poor and that there is no room for hope. What is recommended however is the need to question the legitimacy of the global empire.

2. The Socio Political Context of the World by Anil Kumar Nauriya

Mr. Nauriya began by making the observation that Gandhi is to be seen not just as a symbol of non-violence but as a symbol of non-violent resistance.

Whilst over the last 100 years great shifts in the distribution of political and economic power has occurred we are still confronted by issues of hunger and poverty. He argued that the weaker sections of the world community still need to achieve economic independence, and one way to do this is to refuse to collaborate with exploitation. We need to explore the possibilities of initiatives such as the India-Brazil-South-Africa as important mechanism to strengthen South-South co-operation.


Prof Bukurura argued that Satyagraha and ujamaa are very similar in that they are multi-dimensional and challenged the same ills. For Julius Nyere, ujamaa was a way of life and socialism a state of the mind. Ujamaa was understood to be an all encompassing way to organize people’s lives, with strong and weak individuals each making their contribution. It represented the exact opposite of modern capitalism. In discussion he said that the institution of traditional leaders was abolished after four years of independence in Tanzania, for the sake of national unity and to achieve objectives of ujamaa

Closed Sessions- for delegates only: 311 Delegates came from 107 organisations and from 14 different countries. The discussions centred around the following issues in parallel sessions.

Session One: Role of Spirituality in our Materialistic World where corruption appears to be the norm?

1. Spirituality in the context of universal values – the critical importance of silence as the ground for peaceful dialogue, non-violent action and the ability to pursue truth by Rev. Ellen Grace O’Brien

Starting off with the premise that Satyagraha cannot be separated from spirituality – the truth of our own existence. Spirituality supports and sustains Satyagraha.

O’Brien argued that spirituality levels the playing field. Often disenfranchised and oppressed have spiritual resources which they need to strengthen.

For non- violent practitioners it is critical that:
· We study the philosophy, and its history
· Accept that there are no exceptions to Satyagraha – it is all encompassing
· Have faith in the fundamental witness of life (must believe that Truth and Love will always prevail)
· Demonstrate a willingness to practice self-discipline
“Who you are speaks so loudly, I can’t hear what you say”

To reveal this soul force it is argued, that one of the greatest help is the practice of SILENCE. This practice of silence, she argued:
· allows us to discern right action – illumines the path for each of us
· supports us to live in integrity – consistency with our motives, intentions, thoughts, speech
· fosters a sense of unity which is not sought externally, but discovered within

She stressed that peace and freedom only when found within, can be shared with others.


Prof Oehrle argued that the arts enable empowerment and the acknowledgement of diversity. She used two examples to demonstrate this assertion viz. a community art project and a publication.

The Durban-based Ugusa, is a Durban based community arts project that allowed disadvantaged YOUNG persons the opportunity to develop themselves through learning to dance, sing, play music and dramas. It is hoped that the process of self-actualization can happen through these performance genres.

The second example “The Talking Drum” is an example of a publication that acknowledges and celebrates the musical diversity of Southern Africa.

Session Two: Communities living under oppressive Conditions


Prof Tekale presented positive stories of how Satyagraha has been utilized by tribal groups in India. India has the largest tribal population (next to Africa) of 8% of the population, and that of this, only 28% of them are accessible by roads. These groups have no infra structure and no services

In one case implementation of Satyagraha for 48 days had a direct result of an increase of land allotted to them and a promise of support for 5 years. A people’s movement was successfully organized in another place to stop the construction of a development project that would displace thousands of tribals. In another area there was an interesting story about women who banded together and succeeded in changing a village from alcoholism and domestic violence to a state where they have a regulation that anyone caught producing alcohol would be fined 100 rupees, and the alcohol destroyed. Today in the same village Malnutrition has decreased, Schools are functioning properly, children are much happier, and brutality has decreased, production of craft and agricultural activity has brought prosperity to the village, health services are not only accessible, but freely used, Women are getting more respect and the girls a proper education.

2. AUNG SAN SUU KYI: NON-VIOLENT STRUGGLE IN BURMA by Myo Naing: From Free Burma Campaign in South Africa

For the past 44 years, Burma has been under control of harsh bloody military rule.
The Junta closed the country to the outside world, and banned political activates.
August 1988, spontaneous demonstration against the Junta took place, and it was brutally crushed. Eventually the Junta promised to create a civil government- that is to allow elections and then to step down, but they reneged on their promise. The conflict is between the military power of the Junta and the masses. Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of the people was born in 1945, the daughter of a national hero. Her father was assassinated, and when her mother was dying she retuned to Burma to find her country in turmoil. She emerged as the most articulate and effective leader. She believes that if they use violence, they will simply be perpetuating the damage the Junta has been causing. One must overcome fear, because fear is the most powerful factor in keeping someone from instituting change. She wants the Junta to realize that their true goals are with the people, and to fight is to work against themselves. The 3 steps to disarming the Junta are:

1. Disarm the power and authority of the Junta by educating the masses, and creating a mass movement,
2. Economic disarmament through disinvestments and boycotts by foreign countries
3. To render the army morally groundless.

An obstacle in the non-violent struggle is that the Junta is getting economic support from Asia, and UN resolutions that have been passed are not binding, so they have often been disregarded.

What can the international community do?
Ø send petitions (urge/request) to the UN Security Council to intervene in Burma’s crisis as soon as possible
Ø request the South African Government to actively join the international actors in finding the solution for the Burmese crisis
Ø request Burma’s Junta to unconditionally release Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest.

3. HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUES AND NON-VIOLENT STRUGGLE OF THE TIBETAN PEOPLE Sonam Tenzing: Representative of Dalai Lama in South Africa

In 1950, Tibet comprised a people and territory, who were acting in an independent manner, recognized by the international community, and active in the world at large on their own. Tibet was annexed by China in 1950. Since this time, the Tibetans have been oppressed by the Chinese regime, and been denied access to services such as medical support. 40 years have elapsed since the last UN resolution, but unfortunately nothing else has happened in regard to the occupation of Tibet.

China denies Tibetans basic human rights and does all it can to repress anything resembling political thoughts/freedoms. There has been increasing curtailment on religious freedoms, and Tibetan Buddhism is in danger of being eroded. Beijing fears the Monk’s ability to mobilize the masses, and consequently makes sure that they disappear, go to jail or face severe government repercussions. China exercises constant surveillance and censorship on the media and also keeps an eye on what images of Tibet get exposure to the world at large.

The Dalai Lama has led a nonviolent struggle for the 6 million Tibetans. Following Buddhist thought, he shuns the use of arms and embraces nonviolent means. He follows what is called the “middle way” approach- the middle between the wishes of the Tibetans and the demands of the Chinese. The vision of the middle way approach is drawn from the experiences of Buddhism, and from international examples (of which the Satyagraha movement is one). The aim is that a peaceful change will lead to a stable Tibet that can work democratically and effectively with China in the future.
What can we do?
Ø Put pressure on China to negotiate a settlement with Tibetans
Ø Call upon China to release all Tibetan prisoners
Ø Abolish the death penalty in China
Ø Urge China to allow Tibetans free movement without fear of arrest.
Ø Urge China to let Tibetans in on development projects and be employed so that they can better their situations.

Session three: With the development of modern society, materialism is flourishing, how can we ensure that basic values and humanism continue to be a part of our lives?


Fr. Prakash explored some of the dimensions of Gujarat reality and the response to a society that he argues has been divided in the name of religion.

He suggested that the lived reality of the people in the state of Gujarat was indeed very different from the imagery that was captured in the “Mystique India” production.

He situated his presentation in the February 2002 Gujarat Carnage where 2000 Muslims were killed. What is problematic for him is a tendency to even demonize certain people, four years after the event.

What is heartening in his presentation, is that in spite of the rather bleak picture painted, he does offer a ray of hope in the form of Satyagraha. He presented some of the efforts that are required in four related areas:
· Justice
o Supreme Court has now demanded the re-opening of 2000 cases of the Gujarat carnage which is a critical first step in restoring confidence
· Reconciliation
o Work is being done in bringing together children of different communities at different times, and facilitating groups that work for reconciliation
· Advocacy and networking
o He suggested that networking at the micro and macro, local and global is not just essential but mandatory
· Truth
o He argued for the necessity to stand up for the truth


Dr Kaye’s basic premise is that poverty needs to be addressed through spiritual means. In her presentation she argued strongly for the need for a link between science and religion. Development, she declared needs to be understood as a spiritual process, and hence a bigger “holistic world civilization” view needs to be imagined. She argued further that the concept of spirituality is meaningless unless we understand what we do with each other.

For her, what is fundamental is that there needs to be a balance between rights of society and the individual. Furthermore, leaders in society must be able to serve. An interesting approach that she postulated was to begin with the development of a new VISION. In this new approach, she argued that:

· The fundamental spiritual principle is the ONENESS OF HUMANITY
In addition she proposed the development of spiritually based indicators and an adherence to five foundational principles:
· Unity in diversity
· Equity and justice
· Equality of the sexes
· Trustworthiness and moral leadership
· Independent investigation of Truth

In her approach to Economic Development, she was clear that whilst aspiring for wealth may be praiseworthy, clearly the co-existence of inordinate wealth on the one hand and abject poverty on the other is unacceptable in society. She stressed that the economy is only a MEANS for development and NOT AN END in itself.

3. Gandhian Thought and the Literary Imagination – South African Literary Writers by Dr Betty Govinden

She suggested that Gandhi and his legacy have been seen as defining motifs in the literary landscape. The rise of the Indian novel may be attributed to Gandhi’s philosophy and life. She highlighted the South African local literary tradition (drama, poetry and fiction) which draws freely on Gandhiji, mentioning the works of Imraan Coovadia, Saira Essa, Fatima Meer, Deena Padayachee, Ansuya Singh and Dr Gonam

She then shared extracts from her paper on Sita Gandhi’s memoir and her life during the 1930’s in Phoenix, Durban and her relationship with Gandhiji in the 1940’s in India. This work she suggested represents a unique cultural formation that developed organically and holds a promise of a social contract that was held sacred in the past.


Ms Hashmi picked up on the theme that Fr. Prakash explored earlier. She lamented the fact that India was what she termed on “a journey from secular to fascist State”. She argued that it was worrying that the collective consciousness of the Indian psyche has changed into one of demonizing minorities.

Her presentation focused on her observation that over a period of time there was a conversion of tribals into Hinduism. This, she argued was followed by an attack on Christian missionaries. Even today, she continued, homes of the Muslim rich are attacked, their businesses looted and a bitter struggle to win the hearts and minds of the people is currently being waged.

Ms Hashmi’s impassioned plea to South African activists to monitor the flow of funds to organizations that spread hatred and fascism was met with a reprisal from fellow Indian citizens who felt that Ms Hashmi had presented a very one sided picture of the situation and her views were biased and did NOT accurately represent the situation on the ground. It was suggested that India is a varied country and this greater totality needed to be projected, given that the country is in a process of transformation.

Session four: With More and more emphasis on religious rituals, how can we ensure that ethics and morality continue to inform the behaviour of our society?

INTRODUCTION by the chairperson Dr Ari Sitas:

We began by recognizing that violence is of 3 kinds:
1. That the other is surplus or removable
2. The other is useful and not removable but nevertheless forced to do a whole range of things in everyday social practice (exploited/abused)
3. The other is a non-entity- therefore excluded, disallowed to move within the parameters of regular society.

How do we understand the increase of the social emphasis on religious rituals? What meaning do they reveal to us? Are they a way through which ethics and morality proliferate, or are they another form of violence? Is it another way to exclude the “impure” or is it an inclusive process of searching for a greater truth?

These are some of the questions that face us as we contemplate this larger question.


Over 25 years of study of Gandhi, Professor Lal concludes that the usual arguments about Gandhi are often not particularly useful. In today’s society the accepted thresholds of violence have reached staggering dimensions.

The inescapable question posed is: Even though the need for a Gandhi has never diminished, what kind of Gandhi do we seek to invoke? One of the enduring aspects of his life is that he never allowed himself the comfort of platitudes. And so if we envision or keep alive a vision of Gandhi who allows that, we weaken the message. Gandhi offered Satyagraha to the world as an ethical political and a consummate lifestyle.

He contended that the language of peace lends itself easily to corruption. Gandhi used words very consciously and we should do well to pay close attention to them.

He said that the Satyagraha practiced at home is no lesser creature than the kind that posits itself against colonial powers. Gandhi did not abide by the distinction public/private; he remains unimpressed by this distinction through the belief that privacy may be a form of secrecy and deception. Satyagraha may not use secrecy as surely as they may not use violence

Gandhi in effect creates an argument against secrecy. If you understand the relationship between Satyagraha practiced at home and at the state level, then it becomes clear that any form of secrecy are counter to your aims. But in the world today, secrecy has been normalized in politics.

The normalization of secrecy has a direct connection to the normalization of violence. And with secrecy taking over as the social norm, contemporary society has turned us all into nefarious secret-keepers. He contended that Gandhi would be against such practices.


Mr Mruthyunjaya based his conception of human rights on the Charter of Human Rights drawn up by the UN assembly. In the first paragraph of the charter, moral authority is given as the basis of all human dignity. Freedom, justice and peace rest upon the dignity and worth of the human person. What then is the identity of the human person? What is the dignity in them? And from whom/from where does this dignity come?

Distinctions of race, creed, colour, act as roadblocks to peace and justice.

As we speak of rights, we must remember the duties that accompany them. Like Gandhiji, we must recognize the only way is to enact and lead by example, if the self is not changed, we cannot change anything outside of us either.

Let us realize before it is too late that a man must know his real identity and base relationships on it, rooted in values of respect and basic human rights of all people.


The question that Patrick Batson asks us is how can we apply spirituality in daily life and situations? He began by identifying some universal social values:

Society, today is inconsistent in its application of our highest values- It creates ‘norms’ and becomes desensitized to the need to follow these norms by saying “this is how things are” and yet- every choice, every situation is driven by values. If we live by our highest spiritual values at all times, we will be working in harmony with Truth and not working for truth. In this path we need to be aware of our feelings and be able to control them by applying higher values at all time.

For as long as we keep the religious rituals or rites sacred and in the highest good of a deity, the ritual is an ode to the universal values we aspire to. The deity acts as an embodiment of the values we seek to embody. We should walk our talk at all times. We must challenge our leaders and keep them truthful, if we want enlightened leaders. But we cannot expect of others what we don’t embody ourselves.

4. History of Gandhiji by Prof Sankar Kumar Sanyal

Prof Sanyal spoke of the life of Gandhiji and emphasized some of the key points in his life and what we can learn from it.

Sept 11 1906, of course is the seminal day for Gandhi and the Satyagraha movement. The eternal pacifist and staunch believer in alternative movements, Gandhiji created Satyagraha, nonviolent but active resistance. This was created, or born to fight unjust laws. But to get the full importance of the movement, the full self must be immersed.

In Satyagraha, there is no place for animosity- it is a spiritual state of self-reliance. Satyagraha is self-purification. Satyagraha excludes violence under ANY circumstances. Patience and sympathy are the only weapons, because what is true to one is not true for others. Gandhiji knew that a calm united front through peaceful means, will erode the forces that oppress a people.

Session five: What are the key features in addressing and transforming violent situations into nonviolent negotiations?

1. A Violent future. Can it be avoided? By Mr. Gunvant Govindjee

Mr. Govindjee, from the Ceasefire Campaign which addresses demilitarization and human rights, spent much time contextualizing the global picture. He asserted that the September attack on 9-11 was not necessarily the worst atrocity in history. The loss of life in Vietnam, DRC, Iraq, etc were much greater and arose in fact as a result of US intervention and support. Having access to the right information, not influenced by media from the global north is indeed critical.

He explored the origins of structural violence. Argued that there is a collusion between propagators of neo-liberalism and national leaders worldwide. He argued that the wars in Afghanistan, Balkans, Lebanon, Iraq, etc have resulted in large amounts of pulverized depleted uranium, which will cause cancer in those that breathe them, years after the wars.

He noted that in fact more deaths are caused by small arms and light weapons, half of which are transferred from the US or US operations.

He made the following key proposals:

- Teaching of conflict resolutions in schools
- Work towards creating a non-violent language (e.g. remove phrases like “killing two birds with one stone”)
- Forcing film industry not to portray violence
- Having national parades with children, rather than military and air force
- Monitoring of military spending and conversion of arms industry
- Petitioning the hosting of arms conference and Arms Bazaars
- Mobilizing for the closing down of military bases at home and abroad
- Campaigning against depleted uranium and cluster bombs
- Petitioning for the criminalization of war
- Joining the campaign for social justice and peace, through use of technology
- Ensuring that youth are mobilized and are at the forefront of the campaigns

Mr. Harris began by providing a basic understanding of economics, explaining that in the free market economy both the production and consumption decisions are meant to be left to the market. In addition, price structures are determined by price signals from the market, which get distorted by government, and need to be corrected. Hence, he noted that in this model government should not be playing a role in the economy.

Mr. Harris then traced the traditional beliefs of the Free Market system, before expanding on the shortcomings and limitations of the model. He focused here on inequality and the absence of acknowledgement of power relations.

He then explored the terrain of peace studies, which examines structural violence which significantly claims the lives of 36 times more people than war. Peace studies is concerned with the means rather than the end, and emphasizes the fact that humans are social beings that learn and can re-learn.

Mr. Harris also explored the relationship between peace and economics, noting that war is indeed profitable for its producers and that the free market system actually leads to structural violence

He closed his presentation posing the question “can violence be transformed?
Unlike free-market economics, he suggested that peace is both a means and an end. Whilst we need to change the economic system, this is very difficult. Rather, it was suggested that we focus on building on non-violent actions. It was acknowledged that this requires decades of hard work. In this process, he concluded both academics and activists are required.


Mr. Ndaba examined how to transform structural violence in South Africa. Democratization of the South African state, he argued opened up the door to globalization. In determining the success of our democracy we must ask two questions:
- Has poverty been addressed?
- Has all forms of structural violence been overcome?

In a sobering address, he argued that twelve years after democracy little has been done to address poverty and overcome structural violence amongst black people. He noted that global competitiveness favours only the rich north. Development needs to be locally-owned or else smaller countries like South Africa are forced to be controlled by strong multilateral agencies like the World Bank and IMF. Hence, we are trapped into cycles of structural violence.

His Assertions were:
- Response to be guided by Gandhi and Martin Luther King’s wisdom that espoused win-win solutions
- Engage owners of big business and SMME about the need to distribute wealth.
- To clearly define the essentials of a pro-peace agenda
- Explore the institutionalization of peace, through a new Ministerial “Peace Portfolio”

Prof Varma began his presentation establishing Satyagraha as a politico- religious tool that encompasses sathya, ahimsa, tapasya and fasting.

He outlined the particularity of Satyagraha by Gandhiji:
- Put into practice what he preached
- Had immense moral will-power
- Impressive basket of political tactics
- No enmity in fighting injustice

In the second part of the presentation, he focused on the relative success or failure of Satyagraha. Basically here, Prof Varma argued that as a political tool, Satyagraha won the main war of independence. However, this tool also lost a few smaller battles, especially in the field of industry.

The third part explored what the preconditions would be for the implementation of Satyagraha today:
- Needs a leader of very high moral stature, honesty and highest integrity
- Loyalty of first, second and bottom layers of supportive leadership and masses
- Presence of disaffection impacts on mass movements lasting a longer period
- Support of international public opinion

Session 6: How can we make more meaningful use of our African Humanist Philosophies?

Sharmila Virkar addressed the use of Bhrama and Ksatra positions. Some of us have a tendency to fight, and some have a tendency to forgive, which way is good/right? She asserted that Lokamanya Tilak believed that one should fight evil with equal force, while Gandhi believed in leaving evil unpunished. Gandhi, however, said that giving up nonviolence was not a choice, and his ideas go much closer to the African idea of Ubuntu. Tilak believed that violation of ethical principles are allowed in certain situations, while Gandhi says no, they are never allowed, no matter what the situation.

There has been a push for a move away from the ksatra to the brhama- to presume one’s own inner strength. Mandela sought reconciliation, not retribution, a need for understanding, not for vengeance, and a need for Ubuntu, not victimization.

Ubuntu reads much like Gandhian thought in that there is no revenge or punishment. There is a belief that the oppressor may be freed as surely as the oppressed through the use of Satyagraha.. The use of ubuntu in restorative justice, has the effect of rehabilitating both the victim and the offender.

Ubuntu brings out the healing of breaches, the restoring of communities and acts as the glue for the community. It is similar to the Brahma-dharma and Gandhian philosophy instead of the ksatra-dharma or violence.


Ms Nussbaum started off by Defining Ubuntu as the quality of being human, being people in communities, sharing, cooperating, developing a spirit of participating in life. Ubuntu is alive- a living process. It can bring about collective discussion and transformation. It is self rooted in community in traditional African cultures. African personhood denies that one can be described in terms of physical or psychological properties on their own without communities.
“A person is a person through other people”(Zulu phrase) you are because I am. We are so interconnected that your pain is mine, my wealth yours, and your salvation mine. Ubuntu is deeply linked to spirituality and a universe of unity, everything is related to everything else. As much as the miracle of South Africa was and is a result of the inhabitants, it is also largely a part of Ubuntu, which provided the underpinnings to many institutional changes. She went on to recount a number of examples of ubuntu experiences by renowned personalities and ended by stating the hope that people will claim Ubuntu’s place in South Africa’s history.


In September 1963 he escaped from South Africa because he was banned. He was shot at and imprisoned. He was told by the guards that “this is the cell where we kept Gandhi many years ago” and he was inspired and felt Gandhi’s presence.

Prof. Brutus lamented that while 100 years later, instead of Gandhi’s ideas diminishing in impact, he is now more widely studied/examined than ever before and that there are many organizations that spread his ideas/ideals of Satyagraha, that these organizations fail to work together to create a global movement that could be incredibly effective. He talked about the biggest march in the history of the planet.- against the war in Iraq- up to 13 million people. On EVERY continent, they declared their desire for peace and opposition to war.

How do we relate events in Durban to the meeting of the World Social Forum(100,000 delegates) in July next year in Nairobi. We need to consider taking Satyagraha and ubuntu to the World Social Forum. If the ideas of Gandhi can in fact reach 100,000 coming from 100 countries we would be able to actively engage so many people and spread the important message of Satyagraha! Gandhi’s ideas include a passionate commitment to justice, a decent life, jobs for everyone, homes for everyone, a decent education for everyone, not just for privileged.

He recommended that there should an effort to contact other organizations with similar interests to reach out and coordinate efforts to create an immense chain of nonviolence. Offer courses on Gandhi, and Satyagraha. Consider linking Satyagraha with the World Social forum. With 13 million people engaged in civil disobedience, we would make war impossible.


1906- Satyagraha
2001- New York
1973- When Pinochet overthrew Allende

With the help of US, Chile, set up a military that destroyed Allende’s government and life resulting in 3,200 people losing their life in a week. 20-30,000 killed or disappeared, and Pinochet set up Operation Condor, an agreement with other dictators to kill across state lines.

He said that there are 2 forms of terrorism: 1. anti-imperialist terrorism. The attackers were motivated because they believed the US economic/military power is dominating the world(true, but means were wrong) the attackers were anti-imperialist as the Indians were. 2. imperialist terrorism: Chileans, in the overthrow of Allende- most were taught at the American school and their terrorism was motivated/helped by the imperialist powers.

The two types of terrorism act as bookends of violence. Imperialist terrorism kills, Anti-imperialist terrorism kills. Satyagraha is the only way to end terrorism according to Gandhi. Between 1906 and 1909, he spoke to all the would-be terrorists he could possibly find and told them he agreed with their aims, but that using violence would not provide them with the desired solution.

In 1919, when the British were seeking to suppress Gandhi he saw that their counter-terrorism groups were simply a different kind of terrorism, and a kind that is more pernicious because it is done in the name of the people and that hurts the people.

Gandhi was seeking truth(divine truth) and love is a central feature of that You cant get to truth without love. Nonviolence is an aspect of love. Service alone does not transform the world. To overcome the lower self, to live as loving beings, serving without expectation of aggrandizement. This follows an impulse of the human heart to connect to all that lives

3 pillars of Imperialism were Ideology, Economic- to extract goods services for the aggrandizement of those in power and Military.

We have three pinnacles of the US- Feb 15, 2003, millions no longer agree with the US empire, it is not a justifiable war in Iraq. The ideology is weakening, the military is not proving effective and this is moving towards the final crumble. The empire is wearing no clothes, and we, the Americans, and the world are seeing him walk around naked.

Plenary Session- Strategy and non-violent action: The South African Premiere of a Force More Powerful- The game of Non-violent strategy.

Screening of the documentary “A Force more Powerful”

Panel Discussions:
There are three options when confronted with situations of injustice:
· Do nothing
· Use violent methods of change
· Use non-violent methods for change
In the tradition of Gandhiji who stressed that means actually determines the end, the third option is far more sustainable.

Prof LaFayette emphasised, speaking on the experience of the Nashville movement, the need to plan, organize, strategize and mobilize. Non-violence, he continued involves breaking old habits and developing new ones. This training requires discipline.
Key pointers in this struggle strategy involved:
· Leadership that must exemplify non-violence
· Make sure that they regard their adversaries as potential allies
· All actions must represent the goals that they want to achieve (must win opponent over)
· Whenever attacked, must remember that attackers wish to frighten resisters to stop the action, therefore we need to act with courage
· Identify creative options of nonviolent strategies
· Must win the support of the majority (by not ostracizing people)
· Organize telegrams of support from superstars
· Organize international embarrassment incidents
· Organize press conferences

Srdja Popovic-

He talked of the commonality of approach even though the struggles are different. He emphasized the need for unity of purpose, cause and organizational unity.

If you throw stones at police they will shoot you, if you bring flowers, you are seen as no threat. Nothing should happen by chance. Plan your everyday life, plan in detail. Pick your battles, People will flock to the successful movement. Where are we going? And how will we get there? First is answered by your goal, but never forget main purpose.

You will never win by being defensive, you must stay on the offensive, but a peaceful offensive. Always prepare for default, prepare for all options, plan B. Always learn from mistakes

Never underestimate your task. Never overestimate your capacities. Never assume your resources are unlimited, people will follow leadership they trust.

Shaazka Beyerle, spoke about a key trademark that cut across all movements: viz. a strategic approach to resistance. The key principles that underpinned it were: Unity, focus, strategic choices and Non-violent discipline.

She then demonstrated the computerized game.

2. Screening of the Documentary- Together They Lit up the Sky- Gandhi and Nelson Mandela in South Africa. 25 minute documentary written and directed by Bettina Corke and presented in lieu of a paper.

After the screening of the documentary, Bettina Corke said that the documentary had been produced in the Gandhian and Ubuntu spirit and tradition of collaboration and co-operation, under the banner of a Decade Media Central Italy Film & Communications Co-operative. The film was made to use as a teaching tool.

Session seven: The Rise in Social Pathology and domestic violence- How can we bring about changes in power relations dominated by a patriarchal society?

1. Women in Management of Domestic violence by Geetha Suraj-Narayan

Ms Suraj Narayan presented extensive findings of a research that she had conducted in the Durban area, in which it was found that 30 % of women respondents were abused by spouses (physical abuse, emotional and psychological abuse). Five key strategies recommended by her were:
· To use Satyagraha at professional, community and family levels.
· Need to dismantle patriarchy utilizing Ganhiji’s philosophy
· Empower women through spirit of Ubuntu
· Explore implementing a new “Corporate Satyagraha"
· Re-think activism in terms of Satyagraha


Ms Murugu argued that girl children are facing many issues such as female genital mutilation, rape, wife battery and other forms of violence. She found that many Kenyan women chose to stay in such relationships because of social status.

Child marriage for sexual services was identified as a key challenge in Kenya. The custom of wife inheritance as a custom is also resulting in violence. The Ministry of Health in Kenya is attempting to deal with these issues and so are many NGOS.

She identified the following as consequences of abuse:
· HIV and AIDS
· Internal displacement of women
· Traumatization of children
· Girl children suffer at the hands of rich “sugar daddies”

She argued that there is an urgent need to devise solutions to address these issues.

Key actions suggested
· Training of girls around abuse issues
· Building defense mechanism to save the lives of women and children


She argued that a peaceful nation begins with peaceful children. But the present scenario is bleak:
· crimes against children are increasing in South Africa.
· child protection legislation remains on hold

Referring to Corporal punishment in schools she said:·
Research done showed that 70 % of educators still believe in corporal punishment. They blame their inability to use corporal punishment for the problems they experience.
· not enough educator training is done to change their efforts to discipline in other ways that are not abusive
· where training has taken place, the focus has been on changing behaviour, and not their beliefs and attitudes.

She then explained why physical punishment is inappropriate:
· Teaches children that hitting is a solution to interpersonal problems
· Damages children sometimes physically, but also psychologically and emotionally
· Opens door to physical abuse
· Impacts on child development
· Not effective in the long term
· Acknowledge that we don’t hit adults, yet we are allowed to hit children

She then identified some key opportunities to change, including the new Children’s Bill and the removal of “reasonable chastisement” as a defense. Argued that as a country we also need more support to both parents, and greater encouragement to involvement of men in parenting tasks.

As a way forward she suggested that we need to integrate Satyagraha principles into school programmes.

4. CHILD ABUSE by Dianne Lang

Ms Lang who works in the Eastern Cape, drew on her experiences in that Province. She used personal stories of young children to deliver a moving account of the atrocities of child abuse.

She noted that 26 000 children in South Africa get abused every month. Her organization has
helped little children to reconstruct their lives. She argued that very little if nothing gets done about abuse of children in South Africa. Adults don’t care, and abused children get further abused by government departments. More importantly, she lamented that ordinary people in society don’t take up these issues strongly enough.

Police she argued are the first line of defense. Perpetrators need to be charged. However in the Eastern Cape Province there is no Child Protection Unit. Policemen don’t know what to do with abused abandoned children. Of the 23 cases of abuse, there has been no prosecution made to date, mainly because children refused to declare what had happened, to male policemen

Social workers she argued are the second line of defense. Unfortunately, she maintained that social workers have not been effective.

Session eight: How can humanist philosophies based in our traditions be invoked again to meet the challenges of the present world?


Ms Naomi Cligaro began by presenting an overhead covered in small dots, which she said represented the world. Our job, in this life is to connect the dots, and as she began to do so, what emerged in the world? God, Love and Peace.

She maintained that there are higher laws in the universe, which we break at our peril, and the current military defense system is not in tune with these laws, which is why it is faltering so badly. A military response to terrorism is no response at all, because it is a human problem requiring a human response. If you bomb the country looking for peace you will not get it. We need to find other viable forms for the defense of the people. Ignorance in action is highly dangerous- Goethe. Military is a very diseased tree- Mankind is trained to regenerate it, to pretend that it is still healthy- but we cannot deny the dying roots.

She argues that the existing approach of defense/military is manifestly failing to provide a sense of security, and that this is symptomatic of the death throes of our old paradigm. We need to search for a new defense paradigm.

Her solution is: Alternative Defense forum- New Defense Paradigm. Everything in the universe really based on energy vibrations. And so to work with these deepest vibrations will help to heal the world and lead the way forward for humankind. Our job is to create a master manual for the planet for people to follow- and Naomi stressed that she does have proven scientific evidence for this which she had for our perusal if we wanted to see it.

Master menu
Consciousness raising-The Vedic approach is the most exciting of these
Music- if all the world is based on rhythmic-waves, than working with sacred music is of great importance.( For example- When sand is exposed to the sound ohm, it organizes into a beautiful pattern- so if the world is exposed to the right sound/waves than the smallest particles within ourselves will arrange to their most perfect possibility)
Mind(healing energies)
Psychodynamic work- a new paradigm- a consciousness paradigm, from which energy work becomes key


Charles Alphin was born in St Louis Missouri- experienced racist violence since the time he could remember and as a result began the use of violence as the best means to obtain results, until he met Prof LaFayette who showed him how to fight without destroying people. Through Lafayette he was introduced to Dr King’s philosophy and really started working towards nonviolence.

He has over the years initiated police-officer training in non-violence. At one session, police officers struggled with “love” because it was too mushy. Charles gave them an hour to come up with a replacement, but after an hour they said that they couldn’t remove it because without love, all of non-violence means nothing.

Nonviolence changes- You
Psychological violence, economic violence, gender violence is often more violent than the military or bombs.
73% of people who kill know each other. Violence happens in home, to people you say you love
We have to look and see how much we participate in violence by omission
Nonviolence asks- can you treat people with dignity who are not being dignified?

He talked of 3 types of love
Filio- love of family
Agape- love of all

We recycle garbage, and throw away people, but everyone has a spark of divinity- so we cant throw them away. King’s philosophy of reconciliation is to turn opponent into ally. Not to win over opponent, but win opponent over

We fight because of fear, Violence is a learned behaviour, so we can un-learn it. Nonviolence will work if you know how to work it. Nonviolence takes brainpower, not brawn, and it takes a long time, you must have the endurance, invest in the long run. True peace is not the absence of tension but the presence of justice.


Conflict - Is a state of tension, which exists when one person perceives that their needs/goals are being threatened by another. It is a struggle between a people or nations with different views and levels of power.

With competing rights and interests- we will have conflict while living in the world. These tensions are not positive or negative, they become interpreted as such. Different forms of conflict-resolution have different levels of participation and empowerment

Force- one party in superior power, imposing solution on others
Adjudication- parties in dispute approach a 3rd party to make a decision(imposes a decision)
Arbitration- here the level of participation is higher, and parties choose a decision maker
Negotiation- no 3rd party, they dialogue with each other and achieve an outcome, and enforce it themselves
Mediation- Negotiation assisted by a third party, who acts as facilitator, and equalizing factor
Reconciliation- the ideal outcome of conflict- mediation has potential for reconciliation, but goes in search of outcome, while reconciliation has spiritual impact.

Needs that may be satisfied by adjudication are:
Public Hearing
Justice is seen to be done

How can we move away from these feelings which assuage the ego? Should we move from an adjudicatory system to more mediation? Why Mediation? It is management of conflict between two parties- where parties retain ownership of dispute and outcome. The parties remain empowered. The mediator simply facilitates but does nothing by force. Mediators create the paradigm shift where the opposing parties are invited to transform mutually acceptable outcomes.
Satyagraha, Ubuntu and Mediation- All three seek to connect all living beings with each other, a gentle positive exploration in the sharing of space with all others. They share the desire to create a different future.

Mediation is a life-skill and social art, drawing on honesty, empathy and intuition that should be trained in schools and valued as the important tool that it is. Embrace the tool, and embody the change we seek.

Plenary session- The way Forward

A Draft declaration was proposed by a group but aroused much debate. Some of the issues were:

Ø It referred to one center of oppression viz. Gujarat and ignored the other centers identified during the course of the conference.
Ø It was not clear as to who the resolution was aimed at.
Ø There were differences of opinion about the actual nature of the oppression referred to in the resolution.
Ø The resolution was not in keeping with the philosophy of what was averred at the conference viz use of persuasive rather than antagonistic language, approach that is in keeping with the principles of Satyagraha, reconciliation and love of the opponent.
Accordingly the resolution was rewritten and the new resolution was discussed. To the new resolution there were several amendments that were suggested. However because we did not have sufficient time we had to vote on the resolution as it was, and a majority of the delegates voted for the resolution.

In keeping with the idea of an ongoing dialogue among the group it was felt that we look at rewording the resolution to incorporate some of the amendments suggested. Accordingly the new resolution was circulated. Some further amendments were suggested, mainly in respect of language while accepting the spirit and the content. The new resolution together with an edited version of the report and the key suggestions emanating from the conference are now included herein.
Draft Declaration adopted at the Satyagraha Conference.

Noting that:

· “value-based education” to be included as part of the Conference Resolutions
· Need to extend Satyagraha to strategy around a response to globalization and international economic exploitation
· How do we balance on the one hand the growth of 13 million people demonstrating against economic injustice versus 3 trillion US dollars being spent on arms?
· To what extent can global social movements, inspired by Satyagraha keep in check the negative effects of globalization?
· The economic and political power is in the hands of the US. Global social movements are no match for the ideological propaganda of the global powerful yet it is important that we connect Satyagraha with World Social Forum

We, the peace activists from all over the globe, who gathered in Durban, South Africa from 11- 13 September 2006 to commemorate the centenary of Satyagraha, declare:
6. That the growing economic and political inequality in the world is leading to escalating violent conflict, deepening poverty, disease, environmental degradation and dehumanizing of people;
7. That there is continuing conflict in various parts of the world resulting in loss of life and livelihoods which is particularly affecting women and children;
8. That the exploitation of workers, in particular farm workers, and resources of the world is unsustainable and leads to escalating poverty, the sacrifice of human dignity and places the very future of our planet in jeopardy;
9. That the use of religion, ethnicity, culture and language to create social cleavage resulting in conflict and loss of life, is increasing;
10. That the situation, outlined in paragraph 1 to 4 above, if left unabated will lead to the irreversible destruction of the world
Further that:
II. We understand Satyagraha to be a philosophy informed by the highest standards of ethics and morality and its essence to be:
5. respect for all life
6. tolerance of diverse views and opinions
7. the abhorrence of all types of violence, exploitation and injustice at all levels and
8. the pursuit of Truth
Accordingly we affirm that:-
1. Satyagraha as a tool is more relevant today than ever before,
2. Satyagraha enables solidarity among all people across barriers of ethnicity, class, caste, gender or religion
3. Satyagraha restores dignity to oppressed people and empowers them to establish peace through nonviolent action
4. It is incumbent upon each one of us to rededicate ourselves to the values of Satyagraha, the precepts of Ubuntu, or Ujamaa as guiding principles.
5. These humanist philosophies which reawaken human qualities in each one of us will contribute to the quest to restore the dignity of all humanity
We therefore pledge to take forward the struggle for nonviolence and the peaceful resolution of conflict whether in our own lives, or in our organizations, locally, nationally or internationally by uniting together to work together as participants at this conference to:-
e. establish Centres for Non-Violence based on the principles of Satyagraha and Ubuntu;
f. Lobby for the inclusion of the basic principles of Satyagraha within local regional and international fora such as the World Social Forum
g. Continue our dialogue and
h. Broaden our engagement with organs of civil society to create a global movement for peace and non-violence through Satyagraha, and to work to end injustice, dehumanizing violence, destruction and economic exploitation and oppression of a large section of society.
Acknowledging Gandhiji’s words:
“Willing submission to social restraint for the sake of the well-being of the whole society enriches both the individual and the society of which one is a member”
We acknowledge that tolerance, respect, willingness to listen and submission to higher values of love compassion and justice must guide us and the leaders of nations in the quest for solutions to the many complex problems faced by society at local, regional and international levels.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Peace Roadmap: An Appeal to the Leadership of the Eight Parties

Peace Roadmap: An Appeal to the Leadership of the Eight Parties
(Published originally in Nepali, Kantipur daily, 21 Sept 2006)

Sri Girija Prasad Koirala, Sri Madhav Kumar Nepal, Sri Sher Bahadur Deuba, Sri Amik Sherchan, Sri Narayan Man Bijukchhe (‘Rohit’), Sri Bharat Bimal Yadav, Sri Prabhu Narayan Chowdhary and Sri Pushpa Kamal Dahal (‘Prachanda’)

Before peace and democracy, fought for during the 2006 People’s Movement, have been attained, the country is entering a vortex of human insecurity. The forces that defeated royal authoritarianism by means of the 12-Point Agreement are growing apart, and this provides opportunities for reactionary elements to become active. Steps must be taken immediately to reduce the confusion and mistrust between the seven parliamentary parties and the Nepal Communist Party (Maoist) during the interim period before the elections to the Constituent Assembly. We appeal to the leadership of the eight parties to reach a wide-ranging agreement with regard to a peace settlement before the upcoming Dasain season. In our opinion, once the roadmap for peace is decided upon, the very maturity of the people will lead us through to the Constituent Assembly elections and the new Constitution. We urge the eight parties to put behind them questions of who has or has not conformed to their stated responsibilities thus far, and to move ahead with a new mutual understanding.

In our view, the central focus of the eight parties must be the people of the villages and districts, who are in the process of losing hope and trust. The eight parties must work together in order to create a comprehensive roadmap that will pave the way to both the Constituent Assembly elections and to lasting peace. In our opinion, such an agreement between the parties should include understanding on the following points:

1. The Interim Constitution
Neither the peace process nor the preparation for a Constituent Assembly will move ahead without the incorporation of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) – one of the forces that participated in the April People’s Movement – into the government. The Interim Constitution is required in order to achieve this inclusion, but the recently submitted draft Interim Constitution is incomplete because the parliamentary parties and the CPN (Maoist) were not able to agree on the key issues. Since it has already been agreed that the Constitution for a new Nepal will be created through the Constituent Assembly, an interim constitution should be made through general consensus and in a manner that it does not contradict the proclamations of Parliament.

2. The Interim Parliamentary Order
Since it is the reinstated Parliament that has been able to guarantee the gains of the People’s Movement through its national legitimacy and international acceptability, for now one does not see an alternative to this institution. At the same time, as a group without representation in Parliament, it is not possible for the CPN (Maoist) to be accountable to the House when it is in government. To get around this problem in a practical manner, we suggest that a People’s Consultative Committee be established by agreement between the eight parties. All political decisions would be taken by the Committee, which would be given the stamp of approval by the government and Parliament. The committee must function under the directives of the leaders of all eight parties.

3. Management of Arms
In our understand, the ‘management of arms’ involves, on the one hand, the bringing of the Nepal Army under full control of the government and Parliament and to make it committed to the democratic and pluralistic system of government. On the other hand, ‘management of arms’ refers to, from start to finish, the process of Maoists setting down their arms. It is important to make the officers of the Nepal Army who are implicated in atrocities during the conflict and who were part of the royal takeover to be held accountable for their actions. Meanwhile, at a time when the police and army are confined to their posts and barracks, it is a fact that the people at large in the villages and districts are having to live under the threat of armed Maoist groups, in an environment of fear. Even though guns are not being fired under the ceasefire, the citizens are yet to be freed from the fear of weapons. It is our conviction that the Maoists cannot backtrack from their commitment to management of arms, under the letter and spirit of the 12-point agreement and the 5-point letter to the United Nations. Therefore, in order to afford the people psychological relief, it is necessary that the CPN (Maoist) place all of its armed personnel in specified camps under the supervision of the United Nations. Meanwhile, nationally and internationally, we will have to guard against the possibility of atrocities against Maoist supporters who have been separated from their arms. In our view, it will be timely to implement the suggestion contained in the 5-point letter, to put all armed personnel in cantonments, while putting aside for the time being the question of when the full disarmament of the Maoist fighters and militia is to take place.

4. Ceasefire Agreement
Even though the Maoist’s ceasefire declaration is of the phased kind, it has brought relief to the people. The roadmap to permanent peace, however, requires the Government of Nepal and the CPN (Maoist) to sign a bilateral ceasefire agreement. Such an agreement must contain adequate mechanisms for supervision and mutual communication.

5. Agreement on Human Rights
Given that disregard for human rights lies at the root of the violence and bloodshed that the Nepali people have suffered, it is important that the government and the CPN (Maoist) show commitment to respect the basic principles of human rights and humanitarian law, to sign an agreement on human rights and humanitarian law, and ensure its implementation and enforcement.

6. Public Security
The Nepali people are experiencing insecurity and lack of peace, and the absence of government throughout the country is a matter of utmost concern. The Government of Nepal has failed in its responsibility of delivering human security, and this can be considered disrespect of the mandate of the People’s Movement of 2006. In this context, it is important for the government and the CPN (Maoist) to cooperate in giving the citizens a sense of law and order. Logistical support to the Nepal Police should be enhanced immediately, and there should be a move towards re-establishing police posts all over the country. This is important in providing a sense of rule of law nationwide. Simultaneously, in order to provide a sense of security in the interim period, the government has to proceed with providing the basic elements of human security through the provision of public health, education, essential items, and so on. Both the government and the CPN (Maoist) have to agree that in order to provide security to the people, the police force, administration and the court system have to be activated and made visible throughout the country.

In conclusion,
The Nepali people are today involved in making space so that a group that has been engaged in revolt for more than a decade is able to enter open competitive politics with respect and self-esteem intact. We believe that the character of Nepali society as well as the goodwill and understanding between the CPN (Maoist) and the government provide ample reason for this campaign to succeed. The successful implemenation of the peace roadmap following extensive homework between the parties, we believe, can make Nepal a ‘model country’ in front of the world community. Further, the process that begun with the People’s Movement of 2006 to promote pluralism, democracy and lasting peace will ultimately lead the country at long last towards progress. Through the Constitution that will be drafted by the Constituent Assembly, a people that has been cheated throughout history will at last enjoy respect and prosperity within an inclusive structure of governance. Under this process, the CPN (Maoist) too will convert from a ‘rebel group’ to a responsible national party, gaining the opportunity to serve the people and be part of the exercise to create a New Nepal.

If lasting peace were to be achieved through the points made in this appeal, we believe that Nepal is capable of moving ahead with the constituent assembly process. In doing so, through reasoned discussion, the citizenry will successfully address the many sensitive pending issues in order to introduce a new state structure befitting our soil. We ask the eight parties that have been working together from the 12-point agreement to the 5-point agreement not to underestimate the people’s good sense, and to sign a Understanding for Peace and Democracy, before the upcoming Dasain season. As you thus draft the roadmap that will take us to the Constituent Assembly, we also request you to please keep the interests of the people in the villages and districts foremost in your thoughts.

Signatories to the Appeal:
1. Amrit Gurung
2. Bhimarjun Acharya
3. Binaya Kasaju
4. Bipana Thapa
5. Bishnu Nisthuri
6. Dhurba Basnet
7. Durga Baral ’Vatsayan’
8. Dr. Gauri Shankar Lal Das
9. Dr. Gopal Krishna Shiwakoti
10. Hari Bangsha Acharya
11. Kanak Mani Dixit
12. Kapil Shrestha
13. Kedar Bhakta Mathema
14. Kedar Sharma
15. Kiran Krishna Shrestha
16. Kundan Aryal
17. Lhakpa Norbu Sherpa
18. Madan Krishna Shrestha
19. Mandira Sharma
20. Manoj Gajurel
21. Nilamber Acharya
22. Nisha Sharma
23. Prateek Pradhan
24. Rajesh KC
25. Renu Rajbhandary
26. Sapana Pradhan Malla
27. Dr. Saroj Dhital
28. Shambhu Lama
29. Shanta Basnet Dixit
30. Shanta Lal Mulmi
31. Shobhakar Budhathoki
32. Subodh Pyakurel
33. Sulochana Manandher
34. Sunil Pokhrel
35. Sushil Pyakurel
36. Tashi Zangbu Sherpa
37. Tika Ram Bhattarai
38. Dr. Tirtha Bahadur Shrestha
39. Yubaraj Ghimire

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Interview with Martin Macwan, founder of Navsarjan.

`System has become more pervasive'

Interview with Martin Macwan, founder of Navsarjan.

Martin Macwan, one of 11 children born into a Dalit family, has worked ceaselessly for the cause of Dalit and tribal rights in Gujarat. As a young lawyer and an activist, he founded Navsarjan in 1988, a charitable trust working for the elimination of caste-based discrimination. Since then he has served as the national convener of the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights, has helped found the National Centre for Advocacy Studies, and was awarded the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award in 2000. The public campaign against manual scavenging began in 1996 in Ranpur, where Macwan stumbled upon safai karamcharis who were still carrying human excreta. Within a year, Navsarjan filed a petition in the Gujarat High Court. Since then, the struggle for ridding the State of the practice has been an exhausting, endless one.

Excerpts from an email interview with him:

What are the major obstacles to the elimination of manual scavenging in Gujarat?

Navsarjan raised the issue of persistence of manual scavenging in Gujarat in 1997. Although its campaign has generated national and international debate, elimination seems to be a distant dream.

1. For the State as well as civil society at large manual scavengers are not equal citizens. The State denies the existence of the problem, but continues to receive special assistance from the Central government for rehabilitating manual scavengers. The State, and all its panchayati raj institutions, is one of the major employers of manual scavengers.

2. The Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, 1993, is conditional legislation. It denies an individual the right to file a complaint directly. Only appointed authorities can file complaints, within a stipulated time frame. Hence, to my knowledge, there has not been a single complaint filed under this law.

3. Scavenging is done primarily by Balmikis, who are the lowest in the caste hierarchy; [they are] treated as untouchable even by other Scheduled Castes. Their isolation and exclusion is historical, bringing about an internalisation of despair, hopelessness and cynicism. This degradation of [their] humanity has confirmed the belief that they could be secure only with their present status. Hence, there is very little willingness on their part to free themselves.

4. Most scavengers are women, who do the filthiest work, whereas the supervisors are men. The men of [scavenger] families do not mind women doing this work as long as they continue receiving money and leftover food.

5. Discrimination is rampant in public schools, resulting in a higher dropout rate. In many schools, even today, children from scavenger families are forced to clean urinals and toilets. The only option left for these children is to join the same occupation.

6. The State has left the implementation of rehabilitation schemes to commercial banks, who are not interested. Gujarat Safai Kamdar Vikas Board, founded after Navsarjan petitioned the High Court, has been doing little towards rehabilitation, apart from ensuring that the Chairperson and the Managing Directors are, by and large, from the Scheduled Castes.

What is the current status of the petition Navsarjan had filed?

Navsarjan filed a PIL [public interest litigation] in the Gujarat High Court in 1997, which directed the State to abolish the system and work out a concrete plan of action towards the elimination of the practice and the rehabilitation of scavengers. But the practice continues. Navsarjan has joined some others in a petition before the Supreme Court, which is pending disposal. However, my experience says that whatever the verdict, the practice shall continue, because the nation does not have the political will to eliminate the practice.

What has the response of the Gujarat government and State administration been like over the last decade to Navsarjan's efforts?

What can one expect from a State that, even after being reprimanded by the High Court for filing a false affidavit, continues to do so even today?

During a hearing in the High Court, one of the defences that the Gujarat government offered was that Navsarjan was into conversion activities! While there are some sensitive bureaucrats, by and large political parties do not think they have anything to do with the issue, except when using it to embarrass their opponents.

Gujarat has 13 Scheduled Caste MLAs and Parliament has 79 MPs from the Scheduled Castes, but manual scavenging is no concern of theirs.

How strong a role do caste and gender play in the continuation of the practice?

In Gujarat and in the rest of the country, too, scavenging is a caste-based occupation and the state, the panchayat bodies and the private sector make sure that they only employ a particular sub-caste, the Balmikis, for sanitation jobs, even when Balmiki youth are better qualified and have applied for other jobs. There is a lawyer just 25 km away from Ahmedabad practising law in a Sanand court but his identity as a Balmiki does not get him cases, except from his own sub-caste. When he does not get work, he does scavenging work.

Women, being unequal partners, and further down on the ladder of castes and sub-castes, do the filthiest work. Yet, no women's commission in the country has taken up the issue from a gender perspective. Most NGOs [non-governmental organisations] also shy away from addressing it because their leadership structure is parallel to the caste system.

How do you intend to carry forward the struggle?

We are doing the following:

Continue raising the issue in the court and in the media.

We set up the Dalit Shakti Kendra, which provides vocational education to Dalit youth, including those from scavenging families.

Navsarjan has started three primary schools that give priority to children from scavenging families.

We did a major padayatra for 100 days, covering 475 villages and 44 taluks, against untouchability practised by sub-castes within the Scheduled Castes. For the first time, 200,000 people had water and tea from common cups.

Navsarjan has formed a union of sanitation workers, which raises demands for more wages, better technology, prohibition on lowering human beings into manholes, better education for children, implementation of the law, and filing of cases when there is violation of minimum wage rules. All union members have been insured under a special Central scheme, although insurance companies are not willing to continue such schemes since they are loss-making ventures.

Could you give us a historical perspective on the origins of manual scavenging in India?

As human settlements grew larger and cities came to exist, the necessity for a sanitation system grew. One finds evidence that during the Harappan civilisation, people had created a system of disposal of human waste and grey water. As the caste system grew stronger, people who were considered impure were forced to do this work. One finds mention of the sweeping of public places as a caste-based occupation in Buddhist literature. During British rule, there were numerous mentions of conflict between scavengers and those who were not in the profession. Gandhi was the first national leader who raised the issue and linked it with independence. He himself took up the job of cleaning toilets.

On October 15, 1947, a private members' Bill was moved in Greater Bombay to abolish the practice. This was followed by the setting up of several commissions and debates in Parliament. The U.S. Congress also passed a House Bill saying that the U.S. would vote against any water and sanitation projects (of the World Bank) in India if it did not prohibit scavenger labour. It became a major subject of focus for Five-Year Plans. Navsarjan's campaign has once again drawn national attention to the issue but the system has become more pervasive.

"Ours is a battle not for wealth or for power.
It is a battle for freedom. It is a battle for the reclamation of human personality."
- Dr BR Ambedkar