The project has been developed by a group of regional experts drawn from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka convened by the Consortium of Humanitarian Agencies, Colombo with a view to developing, organizing and conducting of activities over a period of 3 years, commencing April 2004. The context of the Programme is one in which the South Asian continent representing a substantial portion of the global community is striving to provide for adequate safeguards and protection affording dignity and justice to its peoples.
Broad Conceptual Framework:
a. Concept of sustainable livelihood:
Equal access and control of all people to the natural and other resources is imperative for sustainable livelihood. This emphasizes concept of human rights, human values, justice and equitable society. This guarantees the right to self-determination of the citizen for their social, economic and cultural development. Sustainable livelihood is the best lifestyle demanding access to adequate standard of living including food, shelter, clothing, livelihood and employment. Minimum standards of sustainable livelihood could be achieved only after the equal opportunity of all the sectors of the people to employment and ownership and access to the natural resources. This has been guaranteed by the ICESCR.
b. Concept of social and political participation:
The concept of social and political participation stresses the need to guarantee of civil and political and economic, social and cultural rights. This is imperative for the promotion and protection of the vulnerable groups. It guarantees the rights to ideology, thought, religion, franchise, assembly and participation in the government. The promotion and empowerment of the vulnerable groups cannot be achieved without rights to freedom, security and free movement, franchise, equality and non-discrimination before the law, self-determination and the right determining the political status. Right to social and political participation denies the traditional concept of right as a mercy of the government and the power elite and the trickle down approach of development. This encourages peoples to claim development as their right.
The key objectives of the project are:
To track the expansion of the notion of ‘justice’, ‘rights’, ‘welfare’, ‘vulnerabilities’ and ‘marginalisation’ in current times and thereby linking international norms to the issue of dignity and justice in our life.
To link livelihood into not just survival, but dignity, participation and sustainability of just norms.
To emphasise gender justice amongst all the marginal communities as a key element in the process of empowerment.
To document the struggles and initiatives of the civil society in order to provide better co-ordination and networking in the effort towards securing just and sustainable rights for the marginalised communities and legitimise the current struggles for livelihood to a new height marked by radical political issues and ideas related to justice.
To draw profiles of civil and political rights in juxtaposition with socio-economic rights towards sustainable livelihood available in India for the marginalised communities.
To take stock of the rights situation in the current times when the governments are beginning to suffer from a crisis of legitimacy.
To make recommendations after the identification of the gaps and lapses in the State policy, programmes and their implementation.
To draw the attention of the South Asian countries to the objectives of the SAARC Social Charter and to create pressure from the civil society for the implementation of the provisions of the Charter to attain the objectives.
To initiate new campaign for sustainable livelihood and social and political participation by linking it to the political issues and equitable justice.
To enhance the capacity of the vulnerable groups to claim their rights, equitable justice and development.
Given the time frame and the enormity of task, engagement in primary research and collection of data would be difficult to achieve. Considering this the project would tap all the existing resources available on the issues either with the government departments, research institutes, civil organisations, NGOs, social movements and other relevant resource centres.
Policy review to be based on certain case studies representative of marginal groups and also of geographical regions. This would be done keeping in mind the difficulty in compiling a status report on the situation of marginalized communities throughout the country. So, these case studies should be able to provide a window into the general conditions and also help develop a broad pattern for the region.
Special care to be taken to deal with issues of rights and vulnerabilities of women, children and aged people within these communities.
The selection of campaigns and struggles to broadly focus on the issues, which are relevant in current, discourse of development and are linked to the broader neo-liberal agenda in the 21st century.
Effort would be made at collecting all kinds of resources available whether in print, photograph, audio or video media.
Calcutta Research Group is one of the Indian partners for the project, involved with the following three components of the project :
The objective is to develop a policy review with critique of existing policies and guidelines of the government for sustainable livelihood and social and political participation of the vulnerable groups in India. The critique is to be based on functioning and application of these guidelines and policy measures in respect of the constitutional provisions and other international conventions and covenants such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights-1966 (ICCPR), International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights-1966 (ICESCR), SAARC Social Charter and Guiding Principles on Internally Displaced Peoples which also guarantee the rights to sustainable livelihood, social, political and economic development of the vulnerable groups. For details of the guidelines of this policy critique see Framework for study on “Policy review with critique on sustainable livelihood and social and political participation of the vulnerable groups in South Asia”