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.