On The Occasion of
WORLD HABITAT DAY
Monday, 1st October 2007
1st Monday of October being observed as World Habitat Day. This year Habitat International Coalition (HIC), World Social Forum, International Alliance of Inhabitants and many other NGOs, which had given a call for Global Campaigns on Housing and Land Rights, observed the day Park Street- J. L. Nehru Road crossing.
The members of Kolkata NGO Forum, CISRS, PUDAR, Hawker Sangram Committee and many others civil societies groups observed the World Habitat Day and launched the campaign for land and housing Rights for all.
Because of globalization, industrialization and rapid urbanization people are being evicted. In response to the sharp increase of massive forced evictions caused by mega-development schemes, global investment and property speculation across the planet, Habitat International Coalition (HIC), has issued a call to action inviting all peoples’ housing and land rights movements, tenants and housing rights organizations and their allies to join a global effort linking the Housing and Land Rights Days in October 2007 to the World Social Forum Mobilization on January 26th 2008. Every October since 2003, HIC has coordinated International Housing and Land Rights Days of Action to affirm the Right to Housing in opposition to neo-liberal policies. This year HIC’s efforts will be part of a larger international call for housing rights for all.
Today all over the world civil society groups, NGOs and housing rights organization are organizing protest rallies, dharna’s, demonstration all over the World on the following demands:-
• Stop Forced Evictions!
• Stop Speculation in Housing, Land and Water!
• Enforce the Right to Housing Now!
• Enforce the Right to a Sustainable and Inclusive City!
• Support Affordable Housing and Secure Tenure for All!
• Stop All Discrimination!
Present Situation in India
The situation in India, specially since the 90s, has put forward intricate challenges which has obviously been the result of lack of understanding of socio-economic dynamics of a changing society. The political leadership has not felt it necessary and shown disinterest to go deep into the problems affecting the major sections of society who have not been able to get their due share of the benefits of development. As a result, there has been deep-rooted discontent among the major sections of the population, which has, in turn, manifested in various forms of protest like increasing violence, communalist tendencies and other types of social strife.
Corruption, communal violence, atrocities on the weaker sections and women and lack of ‘good governance’ have tainted the society and the whole concept of justice, equality before law, human rights of which we speak so proudly and which are enshrined in our Constitution. The question that arises today is that: what is the way to protect and enhance the rights of the poor, neglected and the downtrodden against such a regressive system?
Questions have arisen about how the rights and privileges of the neglected and the unorganized sections of society could be protected. There have also been debates at meetings of the World Social Forum, India Social Forum, Pakistan Social Forum and other places since the start of the millennium about the strategy to be evolved in this respect. While one section talked of confrontation and violent resistance, the majority view has been that of persuasive strategies, empowerment and awareness of the people from below.
Throughout the Third World there has been some form of organized resistance against the forces of imperialism. But simultaneously the globalization forces have tried to break this resistance and instill in governments of the Third World an anti-poor strategy. This phenomenon has, however, thrown up a new sort of challenge since the mid 90s, which is widely being felt. The poor have been seriously affected which include the following sections:
(i) the farming community whose products cannot compete with those of multinationals who are heavily subsided in their respective countries, ;
(ii) the urban poor who are victims of eviction as cities tend to beautify to attract high-end investments from the Western world;
(iii) the unemployed and the underemployed whose opportunities are being further curbed due to increasing mechanization and cost-effective strategies;
(iv) the rural poor who do not find employment in their area and migrate to the cities;
(v) the tribals and the dalits whose conditions have remained pathetic in spite of welfare measures undertaken by many governments;
(vi) the economically weaker sections who cannot find proper shelter in the cities and have to live in slums; and
(vii) the slum and squatter settlers whose conditions have aggravated due to neglect by the development agencies.
Date: 1st October 2007 Secretary, Kolkata NGO Forum
14/2, Sudder Street And
Kolkata – 700016 HIC Board Member from Asia