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India: Ranchi Declaration - Plan of Action adopted at National Convention on Right to Food & Work (Sept 2016)

4 October 2016

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[Declaration adopted at 6th National Convention on Right to Food & Work which was held from the 23 – 25 September, 2016 at Gossner Middle School, Ranchi – Jharkhand]

Ranchi Declaration: Plan of Action

The notes from all the plenary sessions and workshops are being compiled and a comprehensive declaration as well as resolutions and report will be shared soon. The points that have been included here are the immediate action points that emerged and were ratified in the final plenary.

1. There was a consensus that the practice of manual scavenging should be finished from the country, without delay. Members of the right to food campaign will plan to actively campaign for the eradication of all dry latrines and their replacement with sanitary latrines, alongside the liberation and rehabilitation of all persons engaged in manual scavenging. The steering committee and state campaigns will personally ensure that the burden of cleaning in their homes and workspaces is not entirely placed on communities who traditionally did scavenging. All sections of society must be involved in sanitation activities with the focus being on ensuring safety on the job, supported with the latest technology including clothing and equipment. All state campaigns will make plans towards this.

2. In the month of November in a campaign mode, beginning with Madhya Pradesh, dry latrines will be broken by the safai karamchari union, members of the state campaign and other affiliates of the Right to Food campaign will participate along with ensuring the implementation of the 2013 law on ending manual scavenging.

3. The Secretariat will call a meeting on the NREGA in October/November. This meeting should also spend some time to plan the action around PDS.

4. It was decided that the 22nd of November would be the day for state action. (a) Voices would be raised to urge the state and central Government to immediately implement the maternity entitlements of a minimum of Rs 6000 as notified in the NFSA, 2013. Also demand the expansion of the maternity benefit act, 1961 to the unorganized sector workers, which presently is an exercise for only 4 % of the workforce in the formal sector. (b) Voices would also be raised against the destruction of the PDS through POS and Aadhar and attempts to introduce cash transfer and the demand for pulses (dal) and cooking oil (tel) in the PDS would be raised along with fuel for urban dwellers.

5. Advocacy should begin with MPs and with the Government in order to urge them to implement the maternity entitlements. This should begin at the state and national level. One week before the stat action teams from all over should come to Delhi and meet the party leaders and MPs.

6. As a part of the campaign’s commitment to internal democracy within its structure, all state campaigns would organize conventions within the next six months and nominate a team at least two and maximum five persons to the national steering committee. All state campaigns and national networks will make an effort to ensure that the persons nominated by them to the steering committee include Dalits, Adivasis, and Muslims, people of other minorities, women and youth. All members of the steering committee will have a maximum tenure of four years. Once the national steering committee is reconstituted, it should select conveners from amongst the group. This process should be completed by 8 months from today. The meeting of the new steering committee will be held in May 2017. Due to reduced participation of some of the national networks, a half day meeting would be held in November to discuss their role and representation in the campaign and the steering committee. All state campaigns are expected to adhere to the collective statement of the Right to Food Campaign.

7. NAPM would call an urgent meeting in order to plan action on the issue of stopping this increasing resource loot and alienation of the people from land and agriculture. NAPM would also facilitate workshops on combating agriculture distress in each state. ASHA and other groups like Rupantar would be urged to assist state campaigns to form women’s collective and work towards food sovereignty.

8. Campaign for the inclusion of eggs in the ICDS and MDMS for those communities who consume eggs should be planned nationally and a six month plan of action should be prepared for all states.

9. A national children’s right to food convention of the will be held in 2017.

10. Non implementation of the SC orders in the Swaraj Abhiyan case related to drought should be pursued by all state campaigns along with giving an affidavit for the SC that their State Government had not cared to implement any of the orders.

11. All efforts will be made to resist any imposition on the individual’s private food habits. Therefore the ban on cow slaughter and consumption of beef will also be resisted where it is a part of the regular diet of the communities. The politics around the cow should be discussed by all state campaigns so that each member takes an informed opinion on this issue.

12. In relation to Agrarian Crisis, Land Grabs and Food Security, it was resolved that (a) water to be first used for drinking, then for domestic purposes, then for agriculture and finally for industrialization and urbanization; (b) right to food should be understood in the context of seed sovereignty and food sovereignty; (c) there should be a ban on forceful land acquisition; (d) there should be an end on corporate control over food systems and policy; (e) the campaign endorses the struggle against BT mustard and (f) the campaign will work for the implementation of the Forest Rights Act, PESA and other legislations related to land.

13. The campaign for recognition of women as farmers will be undertaken both at the state and at the national level.

14. The workshop on disability and right to food passed a resolution that the right to food campaign should work towards getting disabled persons included in the automatic inclusion lists in all states and that they should be given Antyodaya cards. Further, the inclusion of persons with disability must be ensured in all food and employment schemes along with giving them access to additional schemes designed specially to address their needs.

15. To advocate for all TB patients be provided with supplementary nutrition in the anganwadis or schools through the year.

16. A number of other action points emerged in the parallel workshops on exclusion, urban food security, rights of homeless persons, disability and right to food, PVTGs and right to food and so on. These are all being compiled and will soon be shared. A list of the workshops that were held are annexed below.

17. Three day workshops with youth on knowing their democratic rights and the Right to Food would be organized in every state by the state campaigns. A list of resource persons would be prepared by the national team and given to each State. These workshops should begin in October itself.

18. The law on sedition and AFSPA should be withdrawn from the Indian statute books, efforts would be made with other civil liberties and democratic rights campaign to prevent the alienation or attack of any group activist or peer by the Indian state.

19. Similarly, along with other campaigns there would be an effort made to protect the people’s right to life and liberty in Bastar and that of the human rights defenders working on this.

20. The cultural component of the campaign should be strengthened.