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[2014 update] Accounts

26 Dec

IMG_20141124_185013030The JJSS had committed to joining the rally planned in Delhi for 2nd December in thousands and this meant mobilizing both members and also financial resources. It was decided that in the executive meeting held on 15th 16th November, each active village unit would be given a donation box and asked to try and raise 2500 rupees. 50 boxes were sent out, so far 36 boxes have come back and 44,514 rupees have been collected, less than the expected amount none the less an important contribution. Other than putting in donations in the boxes saathis also raised their own travel funds and money for food stocks to last them till they reached Delhi. In addition to this we are thankful to all of you who gave us matching funds, for each box. Further accounts are given below:

 Expense 1st April, 2013 to December 2014 1st April 2012 to 31st March 2013
Printing 12305 55437
Office 175759(includes purchase of 3 mega mikes @Rs. 3700 approx) 11990
Travel 244273 201014
Honorarium 217820 267140
Commission (given on cutting of membership cards) 2235 0
Awareness 15098 21716
Photocopy 22271 10075
Communication 51330 41767
Stationery 2456 1734
Mazdoor Mela 67090 52664
Food 30716 27627
Misc 4000 26685
Public meeting 25129 10445
karyakarni meeting 15468 8018
NAPM convention 14441 0
Bihar Jan Sansad 5350 73704
Pension Parishad campaign 0 26419
NCPRI State convention 0 17000
Video and phorography 0 6500
747557 859935

Total Expected Expense = 972557/-

So far we have raised 5,00,000 rupees and another 88,000 from membership fees, that leaves us Rs 3,84,557 short of our needs to keep the sangathan going till 31st March, 2014.

 We would really appreciate your support. Infact it is much needed, the sangathan is growing – sangharsh and nirman hand in hand but this means more expenses and with rising ‘mehangaee’ more so!

Upcoming events

  • Taking forward the coming together of movements
  • Participating in the common organizing in Delhi during the budget session
  • Continuing sangharsh and nirman activities in the sangathan area
  • Strengthening organic leadership and building a caste, class, gender, minorities lense within the sangathan
accounts

Youth team member Vijay plays a game during children’s camp near JJSS training center

 

[2014 update] Building alliances

26 Dec

jansansad

Bihar Jan Sansad: While the Bihar state assembly was in progress representatives of people’s movements and campaigns held a People’s Assembly (Jan Sansad) on the road at Hadtali More, Patna, from 18th to 20th February. On 20th there was a seminar on “Challenges of Alternative Politics”. It was very well attended. Main speakers were Nikhil Dey, Siddharth Varadrajan, Dr. Anand Kumar, Shailendra and Vidyut Pal. A people’s manifesto for the 2014 General Assembly elections was prepared and given to various political parties for consideration. The Assembly touched upon: Governance Issues (Anti Corruption, Transparency and accountability), State Responsibility: Social Security and Basic Services, Violence against women, Issues of the Urban Poor, cultural issues and related themes.

Akhil Bhartiya Shiksha Sangharsh Yatra (AISSY): The concept of the AISSY was introduced in a meeting held in Patna where representatives of various people’s organisations, teacher’s unions, activists participated. The main aim of the Yatra was to call for a common school system from KG to PG (Kindergarten to Post-graduation). Arvind represented the JJSS at the state level in this exercise. A two day orientation workshop by renowned educationist Anil Sadgopal, was held in three districts of Bihar including Araria. The yatra was welcomed in Araria on 22nd November and the JJSS organised a village level meeting in Dabhra. The AISSY had taken off from 4 directions in the country and culminated in Bhopal on 4th December, 2014 where a 25 member delegation of the JJSS participated.

NAPM biennial convention 30th Oct – 2nd November, 2014: The 10th biennial convention at Pune was attended by over thousand activists/supporters/media persons/concerned citizens from seventeen states. Twelve delegates from JJSS attending the three day convention. JJSS is part of National Alliance of People’s Movements since our inception. Kamayani has been elected one of the National Conveners of NAPM again this year. You can read a report on the NAPM convention by an independent observer here .

Coming together of movements: JJSS contributed to the process of coming together of various movements in a major way. Kamayani, the General Secretary of the organization spent a lot of time and energy in this process. JJSS members in its executive committee meeting resolved to mobilise in big numbers for the 2nd December 2014. More than two thousand five hundred(2500) saathis of JJSS made one of the largest contingents in the December Rally. You can read more about the rally here.

[2014 update] Social audit

26 Dec

sa

Since 2009 JJSS has been using Social Audit (SA) as an effective participatory tool to bring in transparency and accountability in various govt. schemes for the poor. Large numbers of volunteers have been trained in SA mechanism in Bihar. You are already aware of our past efforts of SA in MNREGA, ICDS and Old Age Pension schemes. This year we did audit of one Aanganwadi centre in Araria RS where some of our full time karyakartas live.

Ranjit, used the RTI Act to get all relevant documents.  Then JJSS members along with local community members spent around 4 days verifying information about AWC No. 308 (Ward No. 6, Araria), sevika Sarita Rani and conducted a very successful audit. Since then Madhulika Swami (kamayani’s mother) and Anjali Devi have started spending lot of time with the children of the aaganwadi which has led to substantial improvement.

On the day of the meeting held on 31st July, 2014 the following was done:

  • Information was given on the 6 basic services that are to be provided at the centre
  • Beneficiaries and their family members deposed on the services being provided, based on these depositions and days spent by the team before the public meeting proof was presented which showed that there were gross irregularities at the centre. These included no cooked meal everyday, non-opening of centre everyday, distribution of less THR than documented in AWC documents etc.
  • The Anganwadi sevika accepted her lapses and promised to improve her working.

The following resolutions were passed at the meeting by the sevika and all present:

  • The current Poshahar Kriyanvayan Vitaran Samiti (PKVS), the committee responsible for community monitoring of the Centre, is constituted only of close relatives of the sevika, therefore it shall be dissolved and a new committee will be constituted on Independence Day at 9am, after the flag hoisting ceremony.
  • Full share of THR rations will be distributed from August, 2014 based on beneficiary description.
  • The sevika will provide list of beneficiaries to JJSS representative Arvind Paswan, so that the 15th August Aam Sabha can be called based on this list.
  • We will all strive till 15th September to improve the functioning of the Kendra through community efforts and if improvement is not seen action on the Sevika will be demanded based on documentary proof of corruption and irregularities at the Aanganwadi Centre.

However, without any consultation, the Bihar Social Welfare department changed the PKVS to the Bal Vikas Samiti and took the signatory power from parent’s and gave it to the local head master. It was a shock, but petitions to the Social Welfare Department were of no avail.


Further on Social Audits:

Audit in Bhutan: The Anti-Corruption Commission of Bhutan invited MKSS and SSAAT (AP) to train them in social audit process. Ashish Ranjan and Arvind Paswan of JJSS were part of the team that visited Bhutan. Read more about the Bhutan Experience in a BBC story here

Audits in Bihar: This year we have been approached by Govt. of Bihar to help with a state wide Social Audit of MNREGA scheme in every district of Bihar. Ashish Ranjan of JJSS is part of the core group that is planning the process.

[2014 update] National Food Security Act (NFSA) related activities

25 Dec

Bihar was the first state to complete the Socio – Economic and Caste Census (SECC) survey and then announce that this would be used as the basis of rolling out the NFSA. The SECC therefore became a major point of focus for the sangathan.


Recap

Even when the JJSS existed as the Jan Jagaran Abhiyan in 2009, we had gone to Delhi in one of our first rallies of the Right to Food Campaign, demanding “APL-BPL khatam karo! sab ko ration do!!”

Being part of this campaign for a new food act in the country paid dividends when the NFSA was made in 2013. This Act universalized the Public Distribution System and now 86% rural population in Bihar is eligible to get rations under the PDS. It also provides rations at two rupees and three rupees per kg (for wheat and rice respectively).


nfsa

It is to the credit of the Bihar state Government that it also rolled out the NFSA as per schedule in February, 2014. However there were many issues in the SECC, some of which were documented in the first report prepared by the JJSS, in February, 2014. Local corruption also seeped into the SECC, where Panchayat Level Officers (PLOs) asked for varying commissions of 10 rupees to 100 rupees for distribution of SECC hard copies or copies of the SECC draft list, on the basis of which objections could be filed. In cases which were raised by JJSS members, PLOs were pressurized into returning this money.

[2014 update] May Day

24 Dec

May Daymayday2This year May Day was celebrated in Katihar, where thousands of JJSS saathis from Katihar and the neighbouring districts of Araria and Purnea also joined. Medha Patkar, NAPM representative and leader celebrated May Day at the JJSS ‘mazdoor mela’. Like before May Day is marked by a ghumantu (mobile) mela to celebrate the victories of labour struggles all over the world. Aatish, a group of working professionals took time off their busy professional schedules to put together a play for the mela. See may day press release here.

[2014 update] Strengthening the Sangathan : Building democracy within

24 Dec

In 2013 the sangathan decided to end the year with a clarion call to build workers’ leadership. The slogan that reverberated in the October executive committee meeting was:

At the Karyakarni meetings

जिसका मुद्दा उसकी लड़ाई! (Our Issue! Our Struggle!)  जिसकी लड़ाई उसकी अगुवाई!! (Leadership in the hands of those who struggle)

संगठन में मजदूर नेतृत्व मज़बूत करें! (Strengthen worker’s leadership in the organisation!)

This is our conscious effort to build ‘organic leadership’ with no claims of success, but, happy that every conscious effort leads to success.
This year has seen four executive committee and five working committee meetings. Each of these, among other things, talked of ways to strengthen the union. As decided in 2012, for the third time we had our working meeting on Ambedkar Jayanti (14th April). This year we took oath to fight the rise of fascist forces.karyakarni2

The sangathan has also gained from Aitwari Rishidev (Purnea district), Amar Mehta (Araria district) and Hardev Paswan (Saharsa district) joining as block sahyogis. They have been active karyakartas who are now going to spend part of their time supporting sangathan activities. Sangathan will try and ensure small honorarium for them so that they don’t eat into their own meagre resources.

The sangathan has also grown in Saharsa district, where the union has spread to 6 gram panchayats. In Baraith, where our work initially began with support from the Manoranjan Jha Memorial Trust, NREGA work worth about 25 lakhs have been opened and payments made to workers.

This year also saw a membership campaign which brought in over fifteen hundred new members.

[2014 update] NREGA related activities

24 Dec

NREGA has suffered some major setbacks in recent times. Choking the programme with fund crunch is the worst attack NREGA has seen. It has resulted in large amounts of pending payments. Also, very few works have been opened in the financial year 2014-15. The rural development minister has gone on record saying MNREGA is stalled due to lack of funds from the Centre. Any other year, we would have put pressure on Govt. for opening works. This we are spending our energy on mobilizing for payment of pending payments instead.

nrega1

It is this struggle of pending payments that led us to petition right up to the district magistrate in Araria. Finally the Deputy Development Commissioner (DDC) of the district announced block level camps (in the third week of September) for all nine blocks in Araria to solve matters related to pending payments. Interestingly the camp in Araria, turned into a satyagrah because of the non-cooperative attitude of the block level Programme Officer. Despite heavy rains on all three days over 100 people stayed the night and over 500 people would sit through the day at the block office. Foodgrains were collected in every village and khichri was cooked at the Block Office. What was amazing about the whole protest was the way it came about. There had been anger for sometime regarding non payments of wages, and when there was no response from the block administration in the camps that was announced, people who had come for the camp decided to stay back. As a result of this sit in payments were given to workers in five Panchayats. However, two important panchayats, namely Bhojpur and Jamua, still await payments. To the best of our knowledge the district administration has asked for 10 lakh rupees on 25th September (Rs. 10,00,000) for these two Panchayat but there is no sign of the money coming. In Raniganj block the satyagrah lasted only on day one of the camp, as the local administration was cooperative and ready to work through problems arising due to pending payments.

nrega2

People spend the night at the Araria block office

As we were struggling with the above mentioned problems at the local level the new Government decided to further curtail NREGA by introducing changes like changing the labour material ratio from 60:40 to 49:51 (without increasing the budgetary allocations to NREGA), restricting NREGA to 200 districts of the country and setting a fund cap for each state. We came to know of these planned changes very early through the RTI filed by Nikhil Dey of MKSS. In response to these drastic measures the People’s Action for Employment Guarantee (PAEG) held a press conference in Delhi on 8th October, 2014. Read the press note here. The proposed changes to NREGA were one of the most fundamental reasons why thousands of JJSS members headed to Delhi for the rally on 2nd December, 2014.  Because of the massive opposition to the proposed changes the govt. seems to be have postponed the idea.

Unemployment allowance case:  JJSS has filed a writ petition in Patna High Court on behalf of 7000 workers to seek unemployment allowance for work not provided to them under MNREGA. Case has been listed and we are waiting for our first hearing in the court. As you may already know, unemployment allowance must be given to the workers if work is not provided to them. However, rarely this provision is implemented anywhere in the country. In one of the rare instances, in 2011, JJSS workers received unemployment allowance after waging a long struggle.

JJSS is also trying to stay involved with IPP, a participatory planning exercise initiated by Govt. of India to plan for development in Panchayats.