NAPM meet to challenge ‘oppressive’ policies and politics of India’s current regime
Deciding to hold its 12th Biennial National Convention on at Puri, Odisha, from November 23 to 25, 2019, India’s top civil society network, National Alliance of Peoples’ Movements (NAPM), has said that during its 25 years of “struggle and reconstruction”, and for freedom, democracy and constitutional values, there was never such attack as today on the countey’s post-Independence ethos.
In a theme paper distributed for the proposed convention, NAPM said, today, the core values of our constitutional republic, which is in fact our ideological rubric, are being grossly violated day in and day out”, adding, “Our food habits, life-choices, relationships, identities, each of these are being marked and targeted and being used as a barometer of our ‘patriotism’.”
We are all aware that our country is facing serious political, social, economic, cultural and ideological crises. The powers-that-be and its affiliated organizations are hell-bent on changing the secular fabric of this country in unbridled ways. We are facing a severe economic slowdown. Unemployment is on an uncontrolled hike.
We can feel the effect of growing inflation in our day to day life. Violence of all forms, in particular instances of mob-lynching is on the rise. Every day one hears of gruesome stories of violence against women. More often than not, very powerful people seem to be involved in these cases; and those in power are keenly protecting them.
Marginalized communities, especially Dalits, Adivasis, Muslims and Christians, are being attacked in various ways. Attempts are being made to portray a specific ideology of the dominant ruling party as the voice of the entire nation. Right-wing communal elements are now fully out in the open to actualize their project of a ‘Hindu Rashtra’.
Those who differ in their opinions from those of the current government are being portrayed as anti-nationals and called names like ‘urban naxals’, ‘tukde tukde gang etc and ordinary people are being provoked instigate violence against those who question the wrong-doers.
Concerted and organized efforts are being made to silence, ridicule and defame all the dissenting voices, especially human rights defenders and groups. For over a year many activists have been languishing in jail, falsely implicated ‘Bhima Koregaon’ case where actually Dalits were subjected to violence by the right-wing.
People’s movements are being smothered. The latest example in this regard is that of forceful submergence of the residents of the Narmada Valley, who have been fighting for their land and life over 35 years.
Multiple progressive laws enacted after hard-fought battles including the RTI Act, labour laws, environmental laws, land acquisition and rehabilitation laws etc. are being diluted even as repressive laws like the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and National Investigation Agency (NIA) amendment Bills as well as the constitutionally questionable Triple Talaq Bill are being passed.
An ultra-masculinist nationalism is being imposed on us in the garb of patriotism
The parliamentary processes are being grossly undermined. The dwindling autonomy and independence of the judicial system including the Apex Court is also a matter of deep concern.
We have seen numerous overt and covert attacks on our post-independence ethos. The core values of our constitutional republic which is infact our ideological rubric are being grossly violated day in and day out.
All these values which safeguarded the diversity and plurality of our public life are being eroded. An ultra-masculinist nationalism is being imposed on us in the garb of patriotism. Practically every right that was painstakingly earned through our independence struggle is being contested today and we are being led into a ‘state of surveillance’.
Our food habits, life-choices, relationships, identities, each of these are being marked and targeted and being used as a barometer of our ‘patriotism’. Those who indulge in mindless violence both online and offline are left to run amok and any discussion on any issue is sought to be communalized these days.
While the regions of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and North-eastern states have always borne the brunt of state repression, as of now, peoples of these areas have become absolute survivors of the fascist onslaught of the present government.
While on the one hand, large number of poor persons who have been left-out of the NRC are facing a bleak and uncertain future, BJP is communalizing the entire issue for its political ends and is introducing citizenship based on religion, through unconstitutional measures like the ‘Citizenship Amendment Bill’, which is to extend to the whole of India!
Government seems to take pride in its audacity to ‘show Kashmiris their place’ by ignoring 70 years of complex history
Even as we are able to deal with these issues, we find that one (not-so) fine morning, the state of J&K (including Ladakh) is ripped into two union territories. This Government seems to take pride in its audacity to ‘show Kashmiris their place’ by ignoring 70 years of complex history, abrogating Art 370 and dissolving the statehood of J&K, overnight and virtually incarcerating the people of an entire state for over two months, cut off from communications, basic health care and other essential services.
With no respite in sight for Kashmir, the Naga areas and Naga peoples seem to be the next target for this Government. If the Naga cease-fire of 22 years comes to an unfortunate end, the Prime Minister and his Government’s reckless political approach would only be held responsible.
The economy has been so badly hit that for the first time in our history that the reserves of the RBI have been withdrawn for the sake of waiving off taxes of mega corporates. Failed attempts are being made to salvage the fragile banking system by imposing a variety of taxes on the common people. People are now worried about their savings with the government.
Public sector enterprises are being privatized relentlessly and lakhs of employees are seen protesting these moves. With the imposition of GST in a thoughtless way, many industries have already been hit badly. Labour laws are being diluted and even as the PM goes around the globe claiming to safeguard the planet, back home environmental laws and institutions are being severely compromised.
It is amidst such a charged atmosphere that the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) is marking 25 years of its history of collective struggles. As we know, NAPM is a collective platform for all the voices that have spoken out for people’s issues at the grassroots. It includes in its umbrella, people and organizations with several progressive political views, but those who are committed to values of secularism and who advocate for people’s rights.
NAPM is a collective platform for all the voices that have spoken out for people’s issues at the grassroots
Alongside being a platform for movements, it is also an inclusive space for struggles and reconstructive activities. Be it in adivasis or urban areas, working with children in schools, attempts at organic farming and gainful agriculture, creative engagement with young people, eco-friendly alternatives in power generation, understanding the vagaries floods and drought and working on rejuvenating tanks – the alliance is a space for a whole host of groups.
Likewise, groups working on Gandhi’s model of decentralized Gram Swaraj, collectives taking ahead the vision of Marx to ensure ownership of means of production in the hands of the proletariat, struggles organizing dalits and oppressed around the vision of Ambedkar to annihilate caste, groups working with the social justice spirit of Bhagat Singh, collectives reposing faith in the rationalist and equity based world view of Periyar – all are part of the NAPM process.
Groups working to establish peace and harmony across the country are also associated with the Alliance in a strong way. For us, the ‘last person’ in the ‘line of development’ is the first priority. This includes adivasis, dalits, marginal farmers and workers, women and other oppressed genders.
The Alliance believes in the values of Constitution including equity, self-reliance, non-discrimination, social justice and is committed to the non-monetization of natural resources by corporates, which are lifelines for millions of peoples.
We have all collectively fought and won many struggles in the past few decades. Be it questions of land rights, anti-displacement, forest rights, struggles against large dams, corridors, coastal attacks etc. or right to information, work etc, along with other fora.
NAPM has also received strength from many other networks and has always been available in solidarity with other struggles and groups. We have also been able to compel parties to include many of our issues in their agendas. Our struggles continue and that is why we say: We have fought. We have won. We shall fight. We shall win.
We are very much aware of the global climate crisis and are very much part of efforts at the South Asian level to deal with the same. Be it the melting glaciers of Himalayas of the burning Amazon or the Aarey forests being cut back home – all of these are our shared concerns and struggles.
Our struggles continue and that is why we say: We have fought. We have won. We shall fight. We shall win
In today’s time – groups struggling to preserve lands, forests, commons, water bodies, mineral and coastal resources and livelihoods are also faced with an acute challenge to defence and preserve the plural values of our Constitution. This is the time when we as NAPM need to work more actively with a whole host of networks and groups to defend basis human values and social justice.
Even as acknowledge the fact that over the past many years, lakhs of workers, adivasis, dalits, women, transpeople, students, minorities, fishworkers, farmers, teachers, anganwadi and asha workers, public sector employees and many others across the country have fought valiantly against the oppressive policies and politics of the current regime, there is still a lot more of consistent, collective organizing that we need to do at various levels and in various forms, in order to defend our constitution as well as basic human rights and social justice.
In this context, we are pleased to invite you to the 12th National Convention of the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), as we mark 25 challenging and significant years of our collective journey towards justice and democracy.
The Convention is to be held at Puri, Odisha from November 23 to 25, 2019. It is upon each of us individually and collectively to face and confront the challenges that these trying times have thrown up. We would like to use the occasion of the Convention as a space for reflection and introspection as well.
NAPM has always striven to bring together progressive groups and individuals being in a range of ideologies and issues. Today’s times require such efforts most so that we can work together in defence of the Constitution, for freedom and democracy.
The Convention would begin with a marker of cultural resistance on November 23 at Doodwala Dharamshala, Grand Road, Near Jagannath Temple. The Convention would include many interesting sessions on our contemporary struggles, ideological discourses, our challenges, positions and responses, strategies and actions plans.
On the occasion of this Convention, we earnestly appeal to all who have been raising their voices to ensure dignified life for the ordinary people, social justice as well as have been part of struggles for natural resources including water, land and forests and those who have tirelessly advocated for people’s causes to come together.. Do bring along the colours and histories of your struggles, your banners, posters, badges literature, films etc. Let our spirit of collectivism thrive at the Convention and beyond.