by Eloy Garcia
In early March 2011 representatives from around the globe including representation from CPT Colombia gathered together in New Delhi India. The gathering was a planning session for forming a global alliance called “South-South Solidarity – Global Action 2012.” The three day meeting was convened by members of Ekta Parishad in order to formalize the idea of simultaneous global actions.
Ekta Parishad1 is a federation of 11,000 organizations and counts more than 1 million supporters in at least 15 states of India. Ekta Parishad applies the ghandian principles of nonviolence and works at the grass roots level so that all Indians can live in dignity with access to land, forest and water.
Rajagopal President and founder of Ekta Parishad stated that the agenda of the South South campaign will culminate in India with a march of 100,000 people walking for 350 kilometers from Gwalior to Delhi. Rajagopal addressed the international gathering stating “We are not here to change regimes we are more committed to changing the system. 2012 will be about changing the social, economic and political system. While we are acting in India we are looking for partners in different parts of the world. We need to draw the attention of the world to the levels of poverty and degradation our countries are facing world wide.”
After the meeting, representatives from the different continents participated in a local Ekta Parishad demonstration involving 15,000 landless leaders from throughout India. The march started early on March 8th with an estimated 15,000 leaders from 14 different states. The leaders and international delegates marched side by side to the Indian National Parliament, but were eventually stopped by police barricades, riot tanks, and police. Faced with this obstacle the leaders determined they would then sit in place and block the road. The crowd then moved in orderly fashion and took a seat row upon row in the street while waving their flags. 15,000 marchers then waited in silence with their legs crossed in the hot sun for a representative of the government to appear so their demands for land reform could be heard.
The crowd had been prepared for the long wait one day earlier when Rajagopal talked to the crowd and made a plea for determination and sacrifice. Rajagopal told the thousands present that they must have discipline and train themselves for the struggles ahead.
The crowd sat and waited until a government official arrived and announced that a meeting would be held with the Prime Minister that evening. With the news the crowd stood up and in orderly fashion began the march back. For now, their demands for land reform would be heard by the Indian government, but they knew they must maintain discipline for the longer struggle ahead.
1 See Ekta Parishad newsletter: JAN SATYAGRAHA : AN HISTORIC MEETING TO PREPARE 2 YEARS OF ACTION[Pdf]