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It is important to help the poor access their rights

A rejoinder to MKSS by Alex Tuscano, Ganesh Iyer and Narinder Bedi

Pulished: Mar. 11, 2016
Updated: May. 02, 2016

Are advocacy, yatras, social audit and online services sufficient to enable the rural poor to receive rights given through legislations?

This is a question which all serious minded NGOs must ask of themselves. MKSS is a committed pro-poor NGO and we respect them, therefore we are responding to the article in your Civil Society issue of February 2016 titled “Online Service Delivery is a Complete Nightmare.” The article is based on an interview with Nikhil Dey of MKSS. 

We open the debate by saying “it is easier to legislate a pro-poor right for rural working families, than it is to enable them to demand and receive those rights.”

Unfortunately the position of most politicians and parties is “we have helped the rural poor to get rights, now it is up to them to access those rights, our responsibility is over.” Another position is “we struggled to get this pro-poor Act legislated now it is up to the state governments to implement it.”  

We disagree with both positions because they don’t take the history of rural poor peasantry into account. The poor peasantry comprise of women, Dalit, ST, BC’s and minorities; in the past they have never been trained nor organised to demand their rights.

For convenience the Left parties organised urban corporate based labour but left 30 per cent of the rural population, the poor landless and landed peasantry, unorganised.

Then come political parties who give them: Land Reforms Acts, women’s rights to property, bonded labour rights, Justice Against Atrocities Act, child rights, Panchayat Raj Act, right to education, and finally right to work, and right to food security. They then say to the rural poor now it is up to you... Is it that simple?

The rural poor have been oppressed and exploited for centuries. They are mostly undereducated, they ...

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