October 4, 2014
We had a really nice launch of the One Billion Rising in Jaipur through a lecture and vibrant discussion which had more than a 100 people participating. The lecture was titled “How Hungry is America”, connecting Hunger from America to Shahbad, in Baran District where malnutrition deaths of more than 12 children occurred last month in the Sahariya community, the onlly primitive tribe of Rajasthan.
Joel Berg, of the New York City Coalition against Hunger delivered the lecture on why there was hunger in America. He began his talk dedicating his learnings to his aunt who survived the great fire of 1910 in a garment factory in New York city and after seeing the hundreds of women and children dying and injured in the fire, she became a trade union worker herself. He was happy that we had connected his lecture to the situation of global hunger and its impact on women and the marginalised.
Gyarsi Bai along with Rukmani Bai from Jagriti Mahila Samiti, Baran first presented their situation of hunger and malnutrition, exacerbated by the Government of Rajasthan taking back their food and NREGA package of 35 kgs of free grain, and 2 kgs each of pulses, cooking oil and a kg of ghee along with 200 days of NREGA along with handing them with their claims over community forest land under the FRA. Part of this was restored after they pursued with the Government. She exposed the dishonesty of the Government, by stating that when the question of hunger had not been resolved in their community, it was dishonest to say that the deaths of children are disease related and not due to malnutrition and hunger.
Shyamji our coordinator of the Rajasthan campaign on the right to food, spoke on the increasing poverty and hunger of the Tribals of Kotra, Udaipur, who are mostly bonded labourers on agricultural farms in Gujarat. The Gujart model of agriculture development, came at the cost of the Rajasthani migrant labout from South Rajasthan, who actually got nothing. He also spoke of how the food security package and NREGA had been literally withdrawn. However, Tribal people were mobilizing and would not give up their claims so easily and were struggling.
Ashok Khandelwal, who was co-chairing with Mamta and the advisor to the Supreme Court commissioners in the Right to Food Case, gave the Indian perspective hunger and food security, within a global situation of neo-liberal capitalism and spoke of how India has been put for sale to the highest bidder, which will cause more impoverishment and marginalisation, which would impact women most. Through illustrations he connected what the reform in labour laws would do to the market wages of the worker and thus further undermine the worth of labour and thus people’s existence.
Mamta spoke at length on One Billion Rising and why hunger is one of the worst forms of violence against women. She summarised the events of the last two years and stated that this time the OBR activities had to be directly connected with women’s struggles for work, food, for school, to have control over the farm land and the right to live peacefully as the present Government in the centre and state are just out to grab people’s land, water, livelihoods and finish the agenda for welfare. She also stated that we had to go beyond tokenism in order to make our struggles effective.
Many of our young women and men activist from the city and village including the disabled rights activists participated.