More than 5000 landless people from all over India came together at jantar mantar today demanding for homestead land rights. Time line - in 2013 then Governmentaccepted the National Homestead Land Rights Bill but failed to present it before the Parliament; in February 2015, more than 8000 homeless participated in a sit-in demonstration in Delhi and once again the government assured of implementation of the bill but failed again.
We heard interesting analogies and comparisons in todays demonstration from diverse people including the adivasis, dalits, other landless communities, land right activists, MPs, ex-ministers, bureaucrats, swami and so on. Somehow everyone linked the homeless issue to one or more of the on-going narratives on JNU, Rohith, black money, jaat andolan, rapes, land grabbing, malaya debt. And indeed it is so true. One voice that emerged was that all the Governments are same. They never do what they promise so may be time has come to review the methods of protests. The movement for land rights need a new form.
Rajaji in the end asserted that we need to review and improve two things- the Culture of Protest and the Culture of Governance. Improve the culture of protests to make sure that peoples demands are met AND Improve the culture of governance so that governments do what they promise before every election. Clearly unless the culture of governance improve, we can not expect any change in the country.
India is home to more than 10 crore families who are landless (Census 2011). Tomorrow 5000 people, representing these 10 crore landless families, will march to sansad bhawan and if the demands are not met they may give this movement a new form to make sure they get their Right to Shelter.