Swaraj Maharashtra

SWARAJ- MAHARASHTRA

Maharashtra has long traditions of social reform movements and its literature abounds with support for such movements. The tradition goes back to the middle of the 20th Century, when saints like Dnyaneshwar and Tukaram brought religion to the common people, at a time when it was the bound within the exclusiveness of the upper caste Brahmins.

In the 19th Century, at a time when worldwide, the aggression of imperialism was reaching its zenith and India was subjugated to British Imperial Rule, other leaders then set in motion the reform movement which had a lasting affect and was one of the pillars of the Indian Freedom Movement. Leading lights in these regards, included Mahatma Phule, Chatrapati Sahu Maharaj, Justice Ranade and Babasaheb Ambedkar. Mahatma Gandhi was the National Leader of the Indian Freedom Movement but he did lead the Movement to a vast extent from this part of the country.

After Independence, the Marathi speaking state of Maharashtra was carved out of the bilingual Bombay State in 1960. The formation of the state did not mean that “All’s well!” The process of exploitation of the Bahujan (The Majority) comprising, Dalits, Adivasis, Women, Other Backward Classes, Nomadic Tribes and Minorities did not subside. As the years of Independence passed and the euphoria was over, exploitation and oppression again raised its head.

The Sugar Lobby comprising Cooperative Sugar Factories, an overwhelming majority of them in drought-prone talukas, had its stranglehold on the State’s economy, whichever the political party or grouping was in power. There was water for sugarcane; a crop that requires plenty of it the year round but it is in short supply for humans and animals. Nothing is worse, than in Central Maharashtra and Marathwada, which are in the Godavari Valley, from where it flows beyond into Andhra Pradesh till it empties into the Bay of Bengal.

The issues in the Valley are representative of the issues of State has. A factor to remember here is that the Godavari Valley has been treated as the backyard of the development processes in India.

The participants in a PSP workshop.

There are currently 18 voluntary organisations working in 200 villages in the region with whom SJ-Maharashtra is in constant touch. These organisations which its associates, have been in the field for the last more than five years. A few of them have been working for more than a decade.

Maharashtra joined the Swaraj process late and although many NGOs, people’s organisations, social action groups etc. working with dalits, women and other weaker sections showed interest and took part actively in the PSP process, the programmes did not take off. The process was revived in 2000 and the activities are centred in a few villages in Loha taluka of Nanded district. The focus is largely on dalits and women. There was only one fellow working in the region and since June this year one more fellow has joined.

PSP Process in SJ-Maharashtra

In these deteriorating socio-economic and political conditions, some activists in Maharashtra decided to involve themselves with the PSP Process early in 1999.

There was a PSP workshop at Fardapur near Aurangabad in Marathwada. Twenty representatives from various organisations took part in the Workshop. Another workshop was organised between 8th and 12th June 1999 at Malegaon in Nashik District. The third workshop was held at Biloli in Nanded District, just before the National Consolidation Workshop, that is, between 4th and 8th July 1999.

Following critical issues and Strategic Issues came out through PSP process based on the status of Dalits, Adivasis, Backward Classes, Women, Landless Labour, Minorities and those Below the Poverty Line, in the State.

CRITICAL ISSUES

STRATEGIC ISSUES

1.       Casteism.

2.       Communalism.

3.       Corruption.

4.       Poverty.

5.       Diminishing Cottage Industries.

6.       Drought.

7.       Pollution of water and environment.

8.       Reduction of Soil Fertility and excessive use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

9.       Atrocities against Women.

10.    Deserted Women.

11.    Dowry.

12.    Oppression of Dalits and Minorities.

13.    Indebtedness, especially in the Rural Areas.

14.    Migration.

15.    Child Labour.

16.    Bonded Labour.

17.    Unemployment.

18.    Landlessness.

19.    Lack of Irrigation for Foodgrains Crops but Irrigation Facility for Sugarcane.

20.    Marketisation.

21.    Invasion of Western Culture.

22.    Lack of Common Property Resources.

23.    Rapid Degradation of Forests.

24.    Degradation of Adivasi Culture.

1.       Casteism

2.       Fundamentalism

3.       Communalism

4.       Corruption

5.       Poverty

6.       Diminishing Cottage and Handicraft Industries

7.       Water Pollution

8.       Drought

9.       Oppression of Women

10.    Child Labour

11.    Alcoholism

12.    Unemployment

13.    Illiteracy

14.    Migration,

15.    Caste Conflicts

16.    Degradation of the Environment

17.    Drinking Water Shortage

18.    Displacement

19.    Rehabilitation

20.    Globalisation

21.    Bonded Labour

22.    Marketisation

23.    Invasion of Western. Liberalisation

24.    Population

25.    Common Property Resources

26.    Forests

27.    Degradation of Adivasi Culture.

 

STRATEGIC THRUST

From the Strategic Issues, “SWARAJ” Maharashtra has decided to adopt the following Strategic Thrust in its future activities:

1.    To struggle for self-rule to re-establish the rights of adivasis and other rural communities on natural resources, which are Common Property Resources, belonging to the community;

2.    To struggle for the utilisation of these resources for productive purpose in a sound and sustainable development through the decision-making processes of Gram Sabhas;

3.    It will strive for social transformation towards Gender Equality and struggle for restoration of culture, heritage and work against fundamentalism and casteism;

4.    It will raise its voice against the onslaught of the New Economic Police and external forces like the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organisation and Trans-National Corporations, imposing the policy.

AREA OF OPERATION

DISTRICTS FELLOWS INTENSIVE WORK VILLAGES CONTACT VILLAGES TOTAL
2 2 10 35 40

INTERVENTIONS ISSUES AND IMPACT

–        Strengthening gram sabha, Panchayati Raj awareness programme by organising workshops, encouraging dalit and women to take part in PR election.

–        SHG formation of women members and skill development training, legal assistance centre for divorcee women, awareness building on women and law. Restoration of harmonious relation between various communities,

–        Women voice / agitation against illicit liquor sale.

–        Farmer’s committee to get proper govt. facilities towards removal of agro purpose loan, availability of market / society.

–        Promotion of organic farming

–        Indigenous seed protection

–        Making effort for employment guarantee for labours under various government schemes.

–        Farmer’s committee to get proper govt. facilities towards removal of agro purpose loan, availability of market / society.

–        Promotion of organic farming

–        Indigenous seed protection

–        8 women SHGs are formed.

–        5 youth groups formed.

–        200 rural labourers working under the Employment Guarantee Scheme (EGS) from 15 villages have been organised for securing their rights and better wages.

–        Counselling and legal aid centre set up for destitute and deserted women. 53 cases have been solved so far.

–        Regular interaction and support for dalit members elected to the panchayats.

–        State committee is inactive at present.