Ekta Parishad is a non-violent social movement in India working on land and forest rights at a national level. It has been built up over twenty years growing from the local, to the state, to the national and increasingly, to the international level. The purpose of ‘a-massing’ a larger and larger grouping of poor people into a movement, has been to put pressure directly on the central government which is resisting reform and structural change. The structural change that Ekta Parishad is calling for is a complete land redistribution to enable the marginalized and downtrodden, to get out of poverty.
Land reform – giving the poor access to land – s a ‘game changer’, that could bring 40% of the populace out of absolute poverty and reduce substantially the violence that is gripping Indian society. One of the successes of Ekta Parishad’s history is that people have found a social space in which to come together, and demand their rights. In normal society, it is not easy or possible for a marginalized person, like a single impoverished woman, or a bonded labourer, to stand up for their rights (even though they have them). Ekta Parishad is guarding democratic space by bringing groups together in a mass organization. By doing this it is constantly reminding the government that, in case they have forgotten, it is their role as given by the Independence Declaration and the Constitution, to provide that all people basic human rights and freedoms.