Environmental NGOs and people’s rights groups release pre-poll manifesto

Every public action and policy must be judged through the lens of transparency, equality, participatory democracy and its impact on those who are vulnerable, deprived and marginalised as well as on natural ecosystems, argues a new manifesto released by a group of environmental activists and NGOs.

The manifesto, titled ‘People’s Manifesto for Just, Equitable and Sustainable India’ was developed through the Vikalp Sangam network. The 50 groups who make up the network have asked all political parties to commit to the principles spelt out in the manifesto, released just ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

Some of the well-known names in Vikalp Sangam’s core group include the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), Greenpeace India, Ekta Parishad, Kalpavriksh, CGNetSwara, Centre for Equity Studies, and the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE). Most of the organisations are focussed on environment, conservation and sustainability issues, or community-based land and forest rights.

The manifesto argues that a commitment “to the values of the Constitution of India and to a meaningful, democratic and dignified society” is urgently needed in the context of multiple crises faced by the country today.

“There is a growing tide of social conflicts and tension, intolerance, inequality, ill-health, erosion of cultural (including language) diversity, loss of traditional knowledge and skills, and massive ecological devastation,” it says. “This is caused by currently dominant models of economic development and encouraged by authoritarian, religiously divisive tendencies in the state, all of these building on traditional inequalities and discrimination of various kinds including gender and caste, and beginning to reverse the gains attained by these sections in the last few decades of democratic processes.”

The manifesto lays out 16 different areas of commitment, each with a “talisman” question to judge the validity of any public action or policy. Some of the areas dealt with include peace and social harmony, direct democracy and transparency, livelihoods and employment, ecology and technology, food, water and energy, housing, health and education, law and the media.

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Printable version | May 17, 2021 9:39:39 AM |

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