Dialogue or Advocacy Tools

There is a generic difference between mobilization- and advocacy-related tools. For this reason we have dealt with them separately. Some of the advocacy tools are dialogue tools but some of the advocacy tools back up the mobilization making it more credible like the aforementioned “umbrella sit-in” during the Madhya Pradesh yatra in 2000.

Advocating that the state should distribute or regularize land for the poor is done through identification of cases. In the meantime public opinion is built up as a pressure point. What one is advocating is that the livelihood rights which are constitutionally guaranteed must be carried out. If they are not being carried out, there is a legitimate role for people to advocate either through the political or administrative structures or through the courts and if there is no response after due process, then civil disobedience is the acceptable alternative. (Carr-Harris 2002)

Gaining the attention of the media in building public opinion: Working with the media is essential for public opinion making. The manner in which that was addressed in the different land rights movements is to:

  • produce press releases and press briefings/conferences especially with the victims themselves.
  • interact with local journalists in a manner that you are also interacting with state and national journalists simultaneously.
  • Network continuously with the journalists through exposure visits, and provide them with good stories.
  • Ensure that actions get into the print media.
  • Prepare films of the issues and on the techniques/tools used
  • Work to educate editors
  • Maintain a log of press clippings so that analysis after events can be used in planning future media events.

These are indicative of the tools used with media work.

Building up public opinion/communication capacities to influence people nationally and internationally: The importance of networking cannot be understated, from building synergies, to getting information disseminated, to having people from outside of India raise various issues. This is easier as the internet and web-sites have provided a larger network visibly on the land movement.

Creating a Mechanism so the Government can Act – The Task Force: One of the tools that Ekta Parishad helped to catalyze through the MP Government was the Task Force. This is a committee formed by the state government (Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, and Orissa) at the district, sub-district (tehsil) and state levels to address the issue of land redistribution and regularization.  The creation of a Task force is not an end in itself, it is only a means towards the realization of the objectives raised by the land movement. The Task Force is a permanent arrangement made for the possibility of a dialogue between Ekta Parishad and the Government. Initially the first Task Force was set up in Madhya Pradesh, but gradually the four other important states were also included.

Collection of Grievances/Petitions: This is one of the core activities of the land movement in India. Unless concrete cases are exhibited in front of the administration or courts, there is no veracity in the claims. Many of the tribal communities do not have any documentation of their claims as they have ancestoral rights. This therefore requires different legal approaches.

Conducting Conferences, Seminars, at State, National and International Level: There are many kinds of conferences that are called at various levels to give voice to the poor communities and to legitimize their land rights. These are tools to “voice people’s problems” which are outside of middle class people’s perceptions; but also to create alliances at many levels. Land is a very basic building block for national development and must be seen in terms of the political economy of the country. The conducting of conferences is a way to link land rights back to livelihood and human rights.