Sunday, October 7, 2012

Month-long march for land in India

The New York Times headline is "A Massive March for Land, Years in the Planning," and in it Niharika Mandhana asserts:
Over the last decade, India has substantially expanded its net of welfare policies, aimed at lifting its millions from poverty.  A right-to-food bill, which guarantees subsidized food grains to the country's poor, is in the works, and a right-to-work program, called the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, ensures 100 days of employment to the rural poor. 
 * * * 
India already has a rural housing program, called the Indira Awaas Yojana, which gives cash to those below the poverty line to build a house.  But, activists say, the program is too narrow to help a large number of people and doesn't solve the fundamental problem of landlessness.  
The march, organized to demand land rights for the poor, is designed to facilitate the participation of all, "the young, old, rural, urban, educated and uneducated."  The walkers will cover 15 kilometers a day.  "It uses the strengths of the poor," one of the organizers commented.  The walk was nearly averted by discussions with India's development minister, Jairam Ramesh, but when those talks failed, the walk--largely organized by Ekta Parishad, a non-profit group--went ahead.

Read here my own analysis of the human rights issues associated with deprivation of first-order needs to food, education, and health care in India.  My critical lens there is grounded in the rural-urban axis, and gross disparities in access to services along that axis.

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