India’s Constitution declares everyone equal and proudly asserts that all citizens have equal rights. The COVID-19 pandemic has, however, magnified inequalities in Indian society highlighting the additional vulnerabilities of the majority of India’s citizens. India’s millions deserve a more holistic and inclusive COVID recovery package with entitlements and social security measures which would last even beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. It is time for all likeminded forces to demand that the Indian state make concrete commitments to a people oriented response to address the widespread hunger, suffering and deepening inequality. We look to our Parliament to step up to defend the constitutional spirit of equality.
The national campaign to fight inequality has the overarching ask to introduce and fund a peoples’ package that addresses the needs of India’s 99% and builds a more equal and fair society. In so doing, it has three specific asks:
Ask 1: Introduce a peoples’ package that addresses the rights of India’s majority and contribute to the creation of a more equal, just and fair society.
Ask 2: Uphold the rights and dignity of all people especially the more vulnerable during the pandemic, including women; introduce a legislation outlawing all forms of discrimination.
Ask 3: Fund this relief through ploughing back some of the windfall profits made by India’s super-rich and ensuring fair distribution of public revenue between the centre and states.
Ensuring this set of asks would entail bringing together those who work on the issues of various sectors that the pandemic has affected- health, education, unemployment, violence, discrimination etc. to protect the rights of India’s poor and uphold the constitutional commitment to equality.
A preliminary set of asks for the mobilization have been drafted (Annex 1), these are purely indicative. Each participating network under the same could include all or some of the asks from within this framework that appear relevant to them based to their experience, expertise and areas of work. More specific messages and materials would be developed for the specific issues under each of the three asks. Those undertaking decentralized mobilization can also develop their own detailed messages as long as they are in line with at least one of the three main asks and contribute to the overall goal.
Those part of the mobilization would shape the agenda and the mobilization. Some of the potential common moments have been identified below,
1. The campaign will kickstart under the name Fight Inequality Campaign, with the aim of demanding a peoples’ COVID package that works for India’s 99%.
2. The first phase will be from 15th September (Democracy Day). Since the growing inequalities are a marker of declining democratic values, our choice of 15th September as a kick start date is extremely significant, to build greater public awareness around these issues. This also overlaps with the monsoon session of the Parliament.
3. A second phase is between 27th September, Bhagat Singh’s birth anniversary to 2nd October to take a pledge to fight inequality. There can be no justice and progress without peace, so 2nd October can act as a reminder to policy makers to create a just society.
4. To hold a national level discussion on 7th October for future course of action.
5. The specific mobilization strategy is expected to be driven by the advocacy needs of each strand. The above moments provide possible common times for convergence, not the sum of the actions planned.
The mobilization is part of the Fight Inequality campaign. We welcome all groups ready and willing to stand together to fight inequality and to demand action in support of the push against inequality to participate in the campaign.
Globally, the Fight Inequality Alliance is a group of leading international and national non-profit organisations, human rights campaigners, women’s rights groups, environmental groups, faith-based organisations, trade unions, social movements and other civil society organisations that have come together to fight the growing crisis of inequality. The overarching vision of FIA globally provides some indication (but is not limited to) the framing for the vision of fighting inequality for FIA-India.
The Fight Inequality Alliance in India is part of the same mobilization, but is not formalized and the invitation is currently for a common campaign.
Those interested in taking part can also either write to Akshay Tarfe at firstname.lastname@example.org or enter their details in this link through which we are maintaining the overall database of participating organizations.