Land rights in India

Land is life. Land is shelter, security, a livelihood, an identity, a home.

Land is life. Land is shelter, security, a livelihood, an identity, a home. In rural areas, it is the bedrock of a self-sufficient livelihood and often the first rung out of poverty. In urban settings, land and a secure home is the only sure way to establish an identity and connect to society and the mainstream economy. When people are denied access to land and when their rights ignored by more powerful interests, they are invariably made transient and insecure, which creates vast amounts of individual suffering and widespread social instability. Equitable access to land for the poorest and most marginalised is therefore an essential pre-condition to a stable society and economy.

We teamed up with Ekta Parishad, the Indian peasants movement, who have been fighting for land rights for decades and who we knew were reaching an inflection point in their struggle. Ekta’s agenda is very mature, and clearly stated in a 10-point plan that adequately meets the criteria for being a national articulation of valuing the ‘social function’ of land.

Our global petition in India was a ‘virtual jan satyragahra’ (peaceful demonstration) and was about the citizens from around the world standing in solidarity with the landless in India. As P.V. Rajagapol, the leader of Ekta Parishad, states in his video message to /TR’s membership, ‘because of the voice of the global public, the pressure made the Indian government complete the obligations they weren’t willing to complete’.

On April 12th 2013 the government announced a plan to meet 70% of Ekta’s demands, including the provision of homestead plots for all landless people in India. Rajagopal PV, Ekta’s leader, made a video for our supporters around the world, thanking them and explaining the difference their support made at a crucial moment in the campaign.

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Trump: Join us in connecting the dots

The election of Donald Trump has left millions, maybe even billions of us in shock. Although we may be looking with bewilderment at the US today, we should remember that he is not an isolated phenomenon. He is a symptom of a sickness that is raging all around the world. People are hurting, disillusioned with mainstream politics and increasingly angry at a neoliberal economic system that is destroying lives and the planet with increasing ferocity. And in their desperation they are willing to consider extreme measures to make themselves heard.

Demagogues thrive amid fear and insecurity, which is why they paint the world in such dark terms. It’s a strategy that has put right-wing populist leaders in power in an Axis of Egos: from Brazil to Turkey, the Philippines to Russia, authoritarian strongmen like Trump are on the rise. Meanwhile, many centrist liberals, like the Democratic Party in the US, have been so intent on rejecting left-wing populist solutions, and so sure of their ability to beat anyone running on a white supremacy platform with its misogyny and homophobia, that they opened the door for Mr. Trump to walk straight through. Their preference is always to maintain the status quo that has served them so well.

As dangerous as the election of Trump is for the world, we can also see in this moment the truth that we simply cannot rely on the electoral political system to save us, because it is designed to prevent the fundamental change we need. Its own survival is at stake and it will marshal all its champions and resources to defend itself and stop the emergence of a new system. But when we work, or continue working for change from the ground up; when we build or keep on building new ways of living and being with each other where we live; when we construct or keep constructing the future we know is possible with our own hands, rather than hoping distant leaders will build it for us, we find our true power. Finally, when we combine that with the unbending hope that has powered change through the ages, we know our power has meaning.

A 400-year-old economic system is dying and another is struggling to be born. Change on this scale is not going to be smooth or easy. We should not be surprised, then, that moments like this — where the establishment is dealt a body blow — become more and more common. We can despair when that blow comes in the form of right-wing extremists, or we can step-up. We are the ones we are looking for, who can and must grasp the opportunities in these crises that are undoubtedly there.

So it’s time to come together, taking time to remember the earth. Remember all the successful struggles for justice that came before us, and imagine all those to come. Remember that social movements are growing all over the world and realising the common struggle. Remember life. Then, organise. Find each other and help midwife the inevitable transition that brings forth from the ashes of neoliberal capitalism a system that works for the good of all life on Mother Earth. This is not just activism; this is our responsibility as human beings alive as this all unfolds.

This is why we are here.