1 million people in 1 day: campaigning… Indian style.
by Avinash Kumar, Oxfam’s For All campaign team, India
In 2004 India elected a new government who promise to improve the lives of the poorest and most marginalized people in India. It promised a “Common Minimum Program” including more health centers and schools.
In the same year 40 organizations in India (including Oxfam!) began a movement to raise the voices of hundreds of thousands of people calling for the government to keep their promises, and deliver justice to all people in India. ‘Wada Na Todo Abhiyan’ (or ‘Keep the Promises’) is still going strong and now includes an amazing 3000 organizations from 23 states in India. On 17th October 2007, a staggering 1,236,979 people in 15 states took part in campaign actions to mark World Poverty Day. That’s more than a million people in just one day!
Children leading the campaigning!
As part of this movement, India has also launched the ‘Nine is Mine’ campaign led by children across the country. They are calling for 9% of India’s income to be spent on health & education for all. More than 4,000 children launched a petition in October 2006 in Delhi, and following wide media coverage, 20 of the children met the Prime Minister who listened to their demands and assured them of his support. In just one month more than 300,000 signatures were sent to the Finance Minister, and the children also met the Chairperson of the Child Rights Commission.
Since then, 5,000 signatures a day were sent off to the Finance Minister every month until January 2008. The campaign is keeping the pressure up!
Short video on the ‘Nine is Mine’ campaign.
Massive public campaigning in India has led to some amazing successes.
1. Health & education spending has increased
Following the children’s meeting with the Prime Minister, the next budget saw health spending up by a quarter and education spending up a third. This was still not enough to meet the government’s own promises – but it was a bigger increase than expected because of India’s campaigning!
2. New education bill passed
In an historic victory, after years of delay the Government is finally bringing the Right to Education bill to parliament. If this is passed, it will mean that primary and secondary education for everyone is a requirement by law.
We will be keeping you updated with the latest from the ‘Keep the Promises’ campaign in future blog posts here. To get involved you can visit the ‘Wada Na Todo Abhiyan’ website or take action in our Health & Education For All campaign.