The Jan Satyagraha 2012 March campaign is a large non-violent walk that will be carried out in India and in many other countries across the globe in October 2012. It begins on UN International Non-Violence Day, October 2nd, and will carry on for one month. In India, where the main event is being held, 100,000 people, representing different rural communities, especially tribal, landless and small farmers, will walk in formation together 350 kilometers from Gwalior (near the Taj Mahal) to New Delhi. The people will raise the issue about land being a key asset in development and poverty reduction, and that high levels of landlessness and deprivation need to be reduced for achieving positive national and global development. In effect, land and livelihood rights are instrumental to all people’s freedom.

The Jan Satyagraha 2012 March is based on the Gandhian Salt Satyagraha of 1930, known as the Dandi March. It is an uplifting event with a carnival atmosphere; it is the combined effort of people to stand up for basic rights and speak on the way to build more equity in the governing structure. The 2012 March is a disciplined formation of people acting out non-violence in an effort to bring a large number of people together to show the strength of rural India, the importance of agriculture, of food production –as a base for urban India, and to build a common destiny of all people.

Why do we march?

The Jan Satyagraha 2012 March has been organized for several reasons. A large number of people are marginalized across the Indian sub-continent. Along with land-related grievances, there are farmer’s suicides that are increasing every day. Successive Governments are privileging industries and welfare programs (like 100 days of employment, MGREGA) as the solution to poverty, and these have failed to give the basic means of survival for people. Only land and sustainable livelihood generation can achieve real poverty reduction. Leaders in India often speak about poverty eradication but do not act to solve the problems because it requires an over-hauling of the systems of land distribution. The language of land reform is found in laws and policies, but the government is not willing to carry out land reform in practice. Laws that are implemented on land are not pro-poor; rather they are for people who have wealth to generate more wealth. Tribal communities, small farmers and landless people can either chose to accept this with resignation and continue to be submissive, or they challenge the Government’s priorities. The 2012 March is designed to challenge a governance structure that is not working for the majority of Indians but a minority.

The 2012 March builds on its experience of the Janadesh 2007. There were a lot of demands that were received and accepted by the Government in what was seen to be the largest non-violent foot march ever organized in India (click here for more information). The Government agreed to formulate a land reform policy and then implement it under the leadership of the Prime Minister. Indeed, after the decline of the event’s media coverage in the following months, the Government’s efforts to follow thorough on their promises became more and more scanty. Rather than work on the land issue, the government has spent more effort fighting against the legitimacy of social movements. This has strengthened the resolve of Ekta Parishad to launch the 2012 March.