Saturday, March 19, 2011
Declare 9 December as human rights defenders day and strengthen complaint system against the violation of rights of human rights defenders
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Savitri Bai Phule Mahila Panchayat/Savitri Bai Phule Women Forum(SWF): यही सोचती कि क्या मैं सचमुच डायन हूँ
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Peoples' Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR): Declare 9 December as human rights defenders day
Friday, March 11, 2011
Tuesday, March 08, 2011
Orissa Government accepts NHRC recommendation; abolishes 'bartan' system of bonded labour
New Delhi, March 8th, 2011
With the intervention of the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, and relentless efforts of the petitioner, Mr. Baghambar Pattanaik, since the year 2006, finally, the Government of Orissa issued a notification on the 17th February, 2011 abolishing the practice of extracting work from the barbers and the washer men by the upper caste families in the State under the customary ‘bartan’ system for which they were paid a pittance like 15 kg of paddy for the whole year.
The State Government through its Panchayati Raj Department has impressed upon all the District Collectors to instruct the field functionaries to ensure that such an evil practice is discouraged at all costs by taking stringent action against the culprits under the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976.
The notification records that “since time immemorial communities like barbers and washermen have been rendering certain kinds of services to other people in a customary and traditional manner. It is seen that some of these customs and traditions are exploitative and beneath the dignity of human beings. Some have gone to the extent of forcing the barbers to wash the feet of guests during social ceremonies like marriage etc. The barbers are sometimes forced to lift leaf plates containing leftovers at the end of ceremonial feasts.”
During the course of the proceedings in the matter under case no.13/18/2006-07 register on a complaint by Mr. Baghambar Pattanaik, linking several complaints of people working under ‘bartan’, the Commission described this practice as a bonded labour within the definition of ‘bonded debt’ and ‘bonded labour’ as defined under Section 2(d), 2(e) and 2(g) of the Bonded Labour System (Abolition), Act, 1976. It also held the stand taken by the Panchayati Raj, Department of the Government of Orissa in its letter number 3364 dated the 8th April, 2004 as erroneous in saying that the barbers and washer men working in rural areas cannot be identified as bonded labour.
The Commission in its recent camp sitting in Orissa on the 18th January, 2011 again asked the State Authorities to stop ‘bartan’ system and take action against those who failed to stop this illegal practice or abetted it.
Mr. Pattanaik in his complaint to the Commission had alleged that under the custom of ‘bartan’ the upper caste families in District Puri of Orissa gave an advance of a little quantity of paddy for each married male in a village at a particular time of the year and in return, that person called ‘sewak’ had to render services to all the members of the family including the relatives and guests during social ceremonies through out the year without any other remuneration. The Commission found the enquiry report furnished by the Collector of Puri on the issue factually incorrect that no ‘bartan’ system existed in the District.
The Commission also observed that "If the pledge of egalitarian society made in the Constitution of India is to be redeemed the public servant entrusted with the task of implementing social welfare legislation shall have to imbibe the values of justice, liberty, equality and fraternity enshrined in the Preamble of the Constitution."
Orissa Government accepts NHRC recommendation; abolishes 'bartan' system of bonded labour
Friday, March 04, 2011
Thanks for your kind support for support.
With warm regards,
Executive Director/Secretary General -PVCHR/JMN
Mr.Ram Kumar is my ideal to follow as Dalit activist for democratisation of India through Dr. Ambedkar ideology.
Ram Kumar: a resume
Childhood formations: social and filial context
Born in 1963 in an ordinary Dalit (flaying) family of Mominpur village in Unnao district of Uttar Pradesh, the childhood formation of Ram Kumar was shaped up by the sight of slaining of his father, when he was barely five years old. This was a part of series of killings by Brahmin landlords in the region.
After this incident, he was sent to a local primary school. With no wherewithal in the family, he could not continue his education. A couple of years after, one maternal uncle came to his rescue and took him along. This is how he could resume his studies and accomplished with a graduation degree from Kanpur 'Varsity in the year 1984.
Mass mobilization and organization
While at college, way back in 1983, he plunged into political action. The formation of Pragatishil Chatra Sangathan, a student organization, in Kanpur, which continued to fight for democratic rights of students for three years under his leadership, happened to be his first assignation with socio-political activism. After finishing degree, he returned back home and found himself in the midst of agrarian labourers. His mobilization strategies led to the organization of Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan, Unnao in 1985 to fight against the killings of Dalits by Brahmanic forces. A number of strong movements were organized under this banner, followed by a series of arrests, including that of the Secretary, Ram Kumar. He was jailed as well.
The quest for livelihood brought him to Saharanpur in 1986, where he organized Ghar Kshetra Mazdoor Morcha, and became his founder secretary. He led several movements for the rights of forest communities, with explicit focus on oppressive system of contract in forest areas. The movements of forest communities soon expanded to encompass Rajaji National Park, which he led from the front, with explicit focus on upholding the traditional and natural rights of forest dwellers.
In the beginning of 90s', while continuing the ongoing struggles, the problems of both urban and rural youth, the question of their rights and self-respect appeared on the map of activities. The formation of Dalit Naujawan Adhikar Morcha in 1990 at Saharanpur enabled the youths, the Dalit youths in particular, organize and educate themselves and wage democratic struggles for upholding their rights and ensure participation in the development of the society. This thrust was further articulated in the organization of Uttar Pradesh Voluntary Action Network (UPVAN), a State level composite platform of voluntary agencies (NGOs), in 1990 itself, as the founding member of the network, Ram Kumar has actively been involved in strengthening the outfit for advocacy of social and organizational issues. In the same breath, he took initiative to respond to the challenges of communalization of polity and society as the aftermath of Babri Mosque demolition in 1992 by organizing the civil society organizations, social and political activists, media personnel, artists and writers groups etc. The organization of Sampradayikta Virodhi Abhiyan, Uttar Pradesh and its quarterly journal, Sarokar : these are still being reckoned as the most effective intervention. This shall be remembered as one of the biggest milestones of his career.
In 1995-96, after the onset of the regime of globalization marked by social and ideological crises, when the disruptive forces of Brahmanism and capitalism had their sway, Ram Kumar found himself involved in organizing democratic forces. This is how Janshakti Manch, Uttar Prtadesh was formed through collective efforts under his leadership. The formation of Janshakti Manch created and enabling environment for greater mobilization of Dalits, Muslims and Backwards and bringing them together with the broader objective of the development of 'social democracy'. It was, thus, in 1998, a network of civil society groups and mass organization – the Dynamic Action Group (DAG), Uttar Pradesh – was formed and Ram Kumar was elected its Founding Coordinator, a position which he continues to hold till date through subsequent elections.
The formation of DAG created enormous rooms for the process of Dalit assertion and democratization of society. There were, therefore, spurts of activities. The Public Hearing (October 2001) on Land Rights (October 2001), Mass Rally (December 2001) against land-related atrocities and, again, a Public Hearing (October 2004) on atrocities against Dalit women etc.: These are some of the most significant milestones of his organizational work.
The discovery of Public Hearing as the powerful medium of educating and organizing Dalits for future course of struggles enabled him to continue with this program. The subsequent Hearing was , therefore, organized in 2008, with focus on 'Dalit atrocities'.Besides, his organizational and leadership role in the state chapter of Dalit Swadhikar Rally (January 2005) was largely evidenced by the success of the program. This Rally was flagged off by the then President, KR Narayanan from Delhi and finally converged in the World Social Forum, held at Mumbai.
Finally, there remains two more organizational works of Ram Kumar, which are worth mentioning: The first being the organization of state level platform of Dalit women, Savitribai Phule Dalit Mahila Morcha (2007) and, the second one has been a mass organization of rural agricultural labourers, the Uttar Pradesh Gramin avam Khetihar Mazdoor Union (2007). He was also elected as its General Secretary. There was yet another state level public hearing on Right to Food (2007) in his organizational leadership.
Participation in international conferences
Ram Kumar has also been active on international front s right since January 2003, when the first Conference of Asia Social Forum was held at Hyderabad. The participation in this Conference obtained for him a space to socialize the issues of descent-based discrimination and atrocities on international level. Further, in June 2003, he addressed a session of a UN Conference on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in Chiangmai, Thailand. The World Social Forum (January 2006), Paulo Ellegra in Brazil was another major event which solicited his participation.
Memberships of national/international human rights organizations
NCDHR (National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights): this was the first major human rights organization to have recognized his leading role in building an enabling environment for Dalit assertion of rights and nominated him as the State Coordinator in December 2004. Subsequently, in 2006, he was nominated as the executive member of the Coordination Committee for the National Forum for Land Rights. Again, in the year 2009, the State unit of PUCL took him on the board as the Vice President. He is also the State Committee member of the Right to Food campaign since 2009.
Project coordination/team leadership
The Oxfam-sponsored project – Anti-Communalism Campaign (1994-2001) was the first program which he implemented in the professional capacity of Project Director. It followed the Dalit Empowerment Project (2000-2003) under his Coordinator-ship with the support of Billance, Netherlands. As the head of implementing agency, he was also in-charge of the EDHR (2007-2009) project of the European Union. Presently, there are two projects on Dalit Empowerment, being implemented under his direct supervision. The first one was initiated with the support of Christian Aid in 2005 and the other one came in 2009 from IPUP funds of DFID. And both of them are still continuing.
Ram Kumar commenced his professional career as social activist with Vikalp Social Organization, a Saharapur based development agency in 1985-86, and graduated to the level of 'Treasurer' in 1995 – a position which he held until 2003, the year when he shifted over to Lucknow and organized a development group, the Society for Aid in Development in 2003. He continues to work with this organization as the Secretary and Executive Director.
Dynamic Action Group (DAG)
301, Sukrat Enclave,
Old RTO, Latouche Road,