The Constitution of India recognizes that all Indians are equal before the law and states that no person shall be discriminated against because of his religion, sex, caste, or whether is rich or poor. All adults in India have equal rights to vote during elections and this ‘power over the ballot box has been used by people to elect or change their representatives for many years.
However, the sense of equality on the basis of “one vote one person” does not really apply to Poor people who face neglect and these people do not get justice in matters of health, education, etc. Domestic helpers, small farmers, and many others are forced to work in destitution due to poverty and lack of resources. People in India also face inequality based on religion, caste, and gender.
Tawa Matsya Sangh (TMS)
It is a federation of fishermen’s cooperatives that fights for the rights of forest dwellers who have been displaced from the Satpura forest in Madhya Pradesh. From the start of construction of the Tawa Dam in 1958 until its completion in 1978, large parts of forest and agricultural areas were flooded. The inhabitants of the forest thus had to suffer from multiple shortages, earning very little. In 1994, the government gave fishing rights in the Tawa reservoir, but only to private contractors.
When the contractors started exploiting the poor villagers, they came together to form a union and formed an organization to protect their rights called Tawa Matsya Sangh. Rallies and Chakka jams were organized again and again. In response, the government provided fish; rights to villagers in 1996. With the takeover of TMS, fishery workers were able to substantially increase their earnings.
Tawa Matsya Sangh is an organization fighting for the rights of the displaced people of Satpura forest in Madhya Pradesh. The Tawa Dam began construction in 1958 and was completed in 1978. It flooded large areas of forest and agricultural land. The inhabitants of the forest were left with nothing. Some of the displaced people have started fishing in the dam.
In 1994, the government gave the figure eight for fishing in the Tawa Reservoir to private contractors. These suppliers were not friendly. They started pushing out the local people. The villagers now stood united and formed the Tawa Matsya Sangh (TMS) to protect their rights.TMS held rallies and chakka jams demanding their right to continue subsistence fishing.
Finally, the government accepted their request and they started fishing on January 2, 1997. Later, TMS established a cooperative that bought catches from fishermen at a decent price. Now they were able to earn three times more than before.TMS also began providing loans to Fishworkers to repair and purchase new nets
In a democracy, there are always communities and individuals who seek to expand the idea of democracy and promote greater recognition of equality in existing and new issues. Issues of equality are therefore central to democracy. The dignity and self-respect of each person can only be realized if they have sufficient resources.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question 1: How do some people fight to eliminate inequality in society?
- All over the world – in every community, village, town, and city there are some people who are known and respected for their fight for equality.
- These people spoke out against an act of discrimination that they had participated in or witnessed.
- They are respected because they treat all people with dignity and therefore trust them.
- They are encouraged to solve problems in the community.
- These individuals often become widely recognized because they have the support of large numbers of people who have come together to address a particular problem of inequality.
- There are several struggles in India where people have come together to fight for issues they feel are important.
Question 2: What drives the displacement of people and communities?
There are many reasons that displace people and communities, such as when dams are built or forests are declared sanctuaries, thousands of people are displaced villages are uprooted and people have to start over.
In urban areas where bastions of poor people are relocated outside the cities. Their work and their children’s schooling are disrupted because of the distance. This displacement has become a widespread problem. People or different organizations usually come together to fight against it. For example Tawa Matsya Sangh.
Question 3: How did Tawa Matsya Sangh achieve its goal of the right to fish?
Achieving the fishing right goal:
- The newly formed Tawa Matsya Sangh (TMS) organized a Chakka jam (road blockade) demanding their right to continue fishing for their livelihood.
- In response to their protests, the government formed a committee.
- The committee recommended that the villagers should be granted fishing rights for their livelihood.
- A five-year lease was signed. With the takeover of TMS, the fishermen were able to increase their earnings substantially because they established a cooperative that buys their catch from them at a fair price.
- The cooperative arranges transportation and sales in markets where they get a good price.
- Now they started earning more. TMS also began providing loans to fishermen to repair and purchase new nets.
- By being able to earn a higher wage while keeping the fish in the dam, TMS showed that when people’s organizations get their livelihood rights, they can be good managers.
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