18th November 2011
Shri Manmohan Singh
Prime Minister of India
Government of India
Sub: Plight of the Marginalized on Land Issues in India
Dear Manmohan Singh Ji,
First of all I want to congratulate you for your role in SAARC Meeting. I appreciate your position vis-a-vis Pakistan and other South Asian countries, as you are trying to promote peace in the sub-region.
As part of the Jansatyagraha Jan Samwad Yatra that was flagged off from Kanyakumari by veteran Gandhian leaders like SN Subbarao Ji, Bal Vijay Ji and Radha Behn. I have already covered about 35 districts across Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. The marginalized communities like Dalit, Adivasis, Fisher folks, Nomads and urban poor are very happy to learn that the National Council for Land Reforms headed by you will be meeting soon to formulate a policy guideline, to support them in terms of their control over land and livelihood resources.
As I am travelling through the rural India, certain things are becoming clearer to my mind:
1. The marginalized communities are getting further marginalized, as their land and livelihood resources taken away for industrialization, SEZ, Thermal Power Plants, Highways and many other infrastructural activities. Direct and indirect impact of these projects on the marginalized communities is tremendous, that amounts to cruelty on these communities.
2. In spite of our good intentions the FRA is facing a setback. Even in states like Andhra Pradesh and Kerala, I found that the act is not being implemented in letter and spirit. Otherwise a powerful act like FRA could have changed the life situation of a large number of Adivasis by this time. Some mechanism needs to be developed in order to counter this resistance at the bottom.
3. The Balakrishna Renkey Commission report has made many interesting recommendations related to Nomadic communities. The life condition of many nomadic communities demands immediate attention of the government. Because of various developmental projects they have become jobless and forced to the level of starvation. The commission has recommended land based rehabilitation for majority of nomads.
4. Inefficiency and insensitivity of government officials at the bottom is shocking and alarming. Poor people are repeatedly going to the officers, giving applications after applications, also bribing the officials at that level, but still things do move for the poor. This is leading to higher level of frustration among the marginalized communities and I think this is where the seeds of violence get sown. Unless we deal with it urgently, I am afraid the situation may go out of hands in many places.
5. I have already visited some 200 peoples struggle related to land and livelihood resources. I want to bring it on record that all these struggles are non-violent in nature, and they would like to keep it so in nature. The delay and lethargy of the system in responding to their calls will be the only reason, if any one of them will become violent. I think non-violence is very natural to the people of this country, but the government officials have a tendency to push them to violence by not responding to their calls, even if it is within their reach.
6. By and large I found that the Dalit, Adivasis, Nomads, fisher folks, and urban poor are in great difficulty. I was also touched by the conditions of thousands of Muslim women who came to meet me. To be frank, I have no problem that the middle class people of this country have made their life better through economic advancement, but it is a matter of great concern, that the above said communities have not benefitted from this process of advancement. Unless the country initiates an action by which land and resources can be transferred to these communities because others can manage without these resources, is the only way by which we will be able to deal with this huge problem of deprivation.
I am sure you are equally concerned about all these issues, but you are totally dependent on the present system to deliver what you want to deliver. According to my understanding there are about 6 Lakhs well-meaning voluntary organizations in this country. We should take their services in bringing the issues of the marginalized communities for a better understanding.
It is my strong hope that you being the face of the national, would surely want to take up the above mentioned points into your agenda, and look for ways for a better and dignified life of poor and marginalized communities in India.
With thanks and regards
Member-National Council for Land Reforms, Government of India