A bi-monthly from NAPM
Prafulla Samantara is a noted Orissan environmentalist and the President of Lok Shakti Abhijan's Odisha Chapter. His vision for his work is to replace the present economic model of gross consumerism and greed with an alternative, sustainable development model. Prafulla, with various other democratic peoples' movemements, has been battling to protect the natural environment, the right to life, and human rights for the people of Odisha and of India as a whole.
Prafulla works as a coordinator, to unite various peoples' organizations which support movements struggling to protect natural resources from destruction and pollution by various industrial projects such as: Tata Steel Factory in Kalinga Nagar, POSCO Steel Project in Jagatsingpur, Birlas in Maliparbat, Arcelor Mittal Steel Project and Sterlite Steel Project in Keonjhar. He has directly tackled large corporations that are guilty of plunderig India's natural resources, being the first petitioner to the Supreme Court of India against the Vedanta Company. Parfulla was an active participant in the successful movement on Gopalpur against the Tata Steel Plant that saved the Rusukuliya River and Pipalpanka forest reserve.
Roma is a member of the National Forum of Forest People and Forest Workers of India and works for the Kaimur Kshetra Mahila Mazdoor Kisan Sangharsh Samiti (KKMMKSS), a land rights movement in Uttar Pradesh. The KKMMKSS mobilizes Adivasi and Dalit communities empowering them to reclaim their traditional rights to live and work on forest lands. Roma, along with other KKMMMSS activists, has been at the forefront of protests and local actions against illegal mining, tree-felling and the loot of forest resources by a criminal nexus of upper-caste landowners, private corporations and forest officials. Roma's work is increasingly important as reprisals by forward castes and the Forest Department have increased – in the last three years more than 3500 criminal cases have been filed against Adivasis - many of which under Goonda Acts.
D. Gabriele (Tamil Nadu)
Gabriele Dietrich was born in post World War Two West Germany. She is an academic and member of the Democratic Student’s Movement in Europe. She moved to India to explore the interplay between its various religious and cultural traditions with Socialist and Marxist options which fed into India’s freedom and democratic struggle. She moved to Madurai to work in CIS and after forming strong roots in Tamil Nadu, she became an Indian citizen. Since beginning her work in India, her life as an academic and activist has been centered around supporting democratic peoples' movements, womens' movements and working with and for the Adavasi and Dalit communities throughout the country. Alongside her adopted compatriots, she has struggled against anti-democratic forces, communalism, neo-liberalism and the politics of greed.
P. Chennaiah (Andhra Pradesh)
Anand Mazgaonkar is a senior activist with the Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS) as well as the National Alliance of Peoples Movements (NAPM) in Gujarat. Anand started his work in the tribal village of Kantidra 65 km downstream from the Sardar Sarvoar Dam, staying Kantidra until 1999. By this time, he had taken on a large role in issues such as tribal rights, economic policies and communal harmony. To oursue these issues, he decided to move to Rajpipla from where travel and communications were easier. Now, Anand is deeply involved with NAPM in Gujarat. He was apart of the organizational team for the Fish Workers Campaign in Umbergaon and the agitation against Bhaskar Save's brutal killing at the hands of the police. In addition, through the PSS he played a very active role in the Gujarat earthquake and riot relief.
Akhil Gogoi is a peasant leader and a Right to Information (RTI) activist from Assam. He is the general secretary of Krishak Mukti Sangram Samity (KMSS), a peasant organisation that he formed in 2005. KMSS enjoys huge popularity in rural areas of Assam and launches agitations on non-exotic issues such as public distribution system thefts, construction of big dams in fragile seismic territories, non-implementation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, and the Rights to Information Act to name a few. KMSS is not affiliated with any political party and does not swear by any tribal, linguistic or religious group. This being something of a miracle in a region almost balkanised by identity politics. Akhil was awarded the Shanmugam Manjunath Integrity Award in 2008 for his relentless fight against corruption and attempts to bring transparency to the functioning of the government. In 2010, he was awarded the national RTI Award by the Public Cause Research Foundation (PCRF) for his role in exposing the 1.25 crore rupee scam in Sampoorna Gram Rozgar Yojna (SGRY) and 60 lakh rupee scam in the Indira Awas Yojana (IAY) in the Golaghat district of Assam through utilizing the RTI Act.
Dayamani Barla is an indigenous tribal journalist and activist from the Indian state of Jharkhand. She is the National President of the Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF). Barla is most commonly known for her activism in opposing Arcelor Mittal's steel plant that tribal activists argued would uproot and displace forty villages. Barla works for a popular Hindi newspaper called Prabhat Khabar which attempts to bring attention to a myriad of problems facing the Munda people and other tribal communities in the Jharkhand region. Earlier, her journalistic work was supported by a small fellowship from the Association for India's Development (AID). Barla has won the Counter Media Award for Rural Journalism in 2000 and the National Foundation for India Fellowship in 2004 for her work and dedication to the rural communities and their well-being in Jharkhand.
Sr. Celia founded The Domestic Workers Union in Bangalore in 2003. After working with domestic workers for several years, she realised that only through unionisation will the domestic workers be truly empowered. The union was formed so that domestic workers could support each other as well as represent themselves. A pivotal point in the union’s development was the successful case brought by one domestic woker, Papamma. Papamma is a woman who had worked full-time providing domestic help to a middle class Bangalori family for many years. Her wages were a pittance and after falling ill for a short time, she was abruptly dismissed with no provision for retirement. With the help of the union she took her employer to court and got financial redress. Her slow legal battle has paved way for demands for better wages and the fair and just treatment of domestic help in and around Bangalore.
Geo Jose, NAPM Kerala
Bhupendra Singh Rawat
Bhupendra Singh Rawat is a farmer leader who was very active in the movement for the creation of the separate state of Uttarakhand. He has been heavily involved in the agitation against various land grabs from farmers perpetrated by development mafias in the National Capital Region throughout the past few years. He has also actively fighting against the evictions occuring throughout the slums of Delhi.
Ulka Mahajan is a core activist for Sarvahara Jan Andolan (SJA). SJA, based in Raigad District Maharashtra, is an organisation formed in 1990 to fight for the rights of the Katkari tribals and other oppressed people. An initial mobilisation took place on the issue of dali land - land on the hill slopes. The land had been wrongly classified as 'forest land' and the tribals who lived there had been labelled as encroachers. SJA's collective efforts to pressure the government led to the restoration and return of the land to the tribals. Over the years SJA have taken up other issues such as land alienation, forest right issues, labour issues, atrocities against tribals, and the issue of agriculture and food security through systems like the Public Distribution System (PDS). In this process, with their dedicated efforts, SJA have been successful in building the collective strength of the Katkari tribals and other oppressed groups within society.
Suniti S. R., NAPM Maharashtra
Sandeep Pandey after completing his education abroad in the United States, he moved back to India and began teaching at the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur in 1992. He later founded a registered organization called Asha Trust, which now has several chapters across India. In 2008, his team has launched a people's group named Asha Parivar that focuses on strengthening democracy at the grassroots level.
Pandey's work at Asha Parivar is focused on Right to Information and other forms of citizen participation so as to remove corruption and improving the efficiency of governance. He also leads the National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), the largest network of grassroots peoples' movements in India.
Medha Patkar earned an M.A. in Social Work from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, after which she worked with voluntary organizations in Bombay slums for 5 years and tribal districts of North-East Gujarat for 2 years. She left her position on the faculty of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences as well as her unfinished Ph.D. when she became immersed in the tribal and peasant communities in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat. Her work with these communities eventually lead to the organization of the Narmada Bachao Andolan. The Narmada Bachao Andolan began as a fight for information about the Narmada Valley Development Projects and continued as a fight for the just rehabilitation of the lakhs of people to be ousted by large dam projects such as the Sardar Sarovar Dam along the Narmada River. When it became clear that the magnitude of the project precluded accurate assessment of damages and losses, and rehabilitation was impossible, the movement challenged the very basis of the project and questioned its claim to "development." Patkar founded the National Alliance of Peoples' Movements to facilitate unity and provide strength to peoples' movements in India fighting against oppression, further questioning the current ‘development’ model so as to work towards a just alternative.
Aruna Roy is an Indian political and social activist who founded and leads the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathana ("Workers and Peasants Strength Union"). Aruna served as a civil servant in the Indian Administrative Service between 1968 and 1974. She then resigned to devote her time to social and political campaigns. She first joined the Social Work and Research Center (SWRC) in Tilonia, Rajasthan but later in 1983 she disassociated herself from the organization. She is popularily known as a prominent leader of the Right to Information Movement, which led to the enactment of the Right to Information Act in 2005. She has also remained a member of the National Advisory Council for a number of years. In 2000, she received the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership and in 2010 she received the prestigious Lal Bahadur Shastri National Award for Excellence in Public Administration, Academia and Management.
Ram Bhau Patil is the General Secretary of the National Fishworkers Forum (NFF), established in 1978. The NFF is a national federation of trade unions and organizations of fishworkers throughout India. The formation of NFF was a direct result of fishworker struggles happening along the coast of India during the late 1970s, subsequent to the conflict between the newly introduced mechanized trawlers and the small-scale traditional and artisanal fishworkers. The forum has since then continued to represent the grievances and demands of artisanal fishworkers and has grown in strength and influence at the state and national level. Currently NFF is a member of the National Fisheries Advisory Board of India and the National Coastal Zone Management Authority. NFF now actively campaigns against the proposed Coastal Zone Management Notification based on the recommendation of the Swaminathan Committee, with hopes of replacing the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification of 1991. NFF also actively campaigns for a national-level legislation which complies with the International Labour Organisation Convention on Work in the Fishing Sector 2007.
Madhuresh Kumar is one of three National Organizers for NAPM; he is based out of the NAPM Coordination Office in Deli. He provides central support for campaigns and movements across the country and coordinates activities of members of the alliance. He is responsible for research and fact-finding, policy advocacy, program planning, communications and logistics. Madhuresh has been involved in various campaigns such as the repeal of the Land Acquisition Act 1894 and the enactment of a comprehensive national legislation on development planning, anti nuclear power, anti police & state sponsored brutality, anti AFSPA, strengthening the Food Security Bill, as well as slum dwellers' right to housing and Anti-Corruption.