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Madhya Pradesh Inclusion Utsav

22 January 2016 Share: facebook share twitter share

The Poorest Areas Civil Society (PACS) programme celebrated its five-year journey, creating leadership and empowering socially excluded communities in Madhya Pradesh by holding a two-day closing ceremony – the PACS Inclusion Utsav - in Bhopal from 20-22 January 2016.

PACS in Madhya Pradesh: A Summary

The PACS programme in Madhya Pradesh has reached 1,830,951 people across 17 districts, 90 blocks and 3727 villages. PACS has worked with 16 Civil Society Organisation (CSO) partners and 18 network partners generating a social capital of 2693 Community Based Organisations (CBOs), of which 95% are led by socially excluded groups.

The programme’s thematic coverage addressed MGNREGA employment, revenue land and forest rights, and health and nutrition.

Find out more about PACS work in Madhya Pradesh.

Day 1

Session 1: Inauguration
The inaugural session of the event began with prayers and community songs by CBOs and CSOs to enthuse the gathering.

The Cabinet Minister for Revenue, Government of MP - Shri Rampal Singh - inaugurated the Inclusion Utsav. Acknowledging PACS work in the State, he expressed, “CBOs and other partners have helped the marginalised sections to raise their voice and demand their rights.” He went on to share his office’s commitment to continue their work in the space of land rights. He mentioned about a task force that has been put in place to address land issues and emphasised that this task force will have local representatives as well. He concluded with a promise to solve problems related to dispossessed land.

Shri Rampal Singh – Cabinet Minister for Revenue, Government of Madhya Pradesh – speaks at the inaugural session of the PACS Inclusion Utsav in Bhopal, praising PACS for their work in the State.

Head of Programmes for PACS, Rajkumar Bidla, then took to stage to reflect on PACS’ journey in the State. He explained that the Inclusion Utsav is a celebration of community leadership amongst those who have been left behind and face discrimination in the society. “Due to a lack of confidence, socially excluded groups did not demand their rights and entitlements. At PACS, we worked with a vision to motivate them and create a sense of self-worth,” he said. He also acknowledged the role of the CSO partners as the ones who have done the work on the ground, who have understood the problems in detail and who have made efforts to create a positive impact in lives of the communities. He concluded that the overall development of the country is highly dependent on the development of vulnerable groups.

State Manager for PACS in MP, Pragyan Mohanty, and Head of Knowledge Management for PACS, Avinav Kumar, elaborated on the PACS interventions in the State. They shared the strategies that have been implemented in the programme, including; ensuring better representation of socially excluded groups, strengthening civil society through trainings, making service providers more accountable and responsive, and disseminating learning from the programme for better implementation in the future.

The inaugural session also witnessed stories from beneficiaries, CBO leaders and others supported through PACS.

From PACS partner Adivasi Chetna, CBO leader Kailash Singad shared his story: “We knew about MGNREGA but did not know to ask for work. The PACS training taught us that. We would like to thank PACS for all the work they have done through their programme.” He also mentioned that, as a CBO, they created a union to get people together to discuss their problems and to devise prospective solutions making the welfare work much easier to do.

Among other CBO leaders, Arti Valmiki - a member of the PACS Community Correspondents Network - also shared her experience. Through the PACS programme, she has been liberated from manual scavenging and is now an active Community Correspondent video journalist. She has helped many women in her village to step away from the practice and thanked PACS and its partners for their work to completely stop manual scavenging in her village.

Arti Valmiki shares her experiences of being a PACS Community Correspondent, using video journalism to highlight issues in her community and advocate for change.

From the PACS Changelooms With.in programme for young leaders, Vikram shared how Changelooms had given him the confidence to do something for society.

Ragwati, a para-veterinary trained under the PACS inclusive dairy livelihoods model, said, “I would like to thank PACS for training me and many others like me to work for the welfare of animals in our village. We will continue this programme and ensure that the work doesn’t stop.”

Chairperson of the State Scheduled Tribe Commission, Shri Bhupendra Arya, started his speech by saying that discrimination in society has gone on for too long. “I congratulate all the work that PACS has done to address this discrimination in society,” he said. “All civil societies should work towards collapsing the system that allows such practices of discrimination.” He also said that it was truly humbling to see the most marginalised groups of society working towards a greater good for their communities and villages, showing the impact that PACS has created.

To conclude the session, Ram Narayan Syag - a celebrated social activist representing the NGO Samavesh - shared his thoughts. He said that PACS has triggered the pace at which we need to work. “India is a Republic and the country truly can be called one if people raise their voices and demand their rights,” he said. “This is the beginning of something new and big. We can attain new heights if we work towards development of those who are vulnerable.”

Social activist, Ram Narayan Syag, encourages attendees at the PACS Inclusion Utsav in Madhya Pradesh to continue the work that PACS has started, raising their voices and demanding their rights.

The day ended with folk dance performances of the Baiga Adivasi dance, showcasing tribal life in the State, and the Bagheshur dance, highlighting the rich flora and fauna.

Day 2

Session 2: Land and Forest Rights
A big share of MP’s population relies on forest land for their livelihood. The purpose of this session was to understand the impact of the Forest Rights Act (FRA) and PACS’ role in its effective implementation, looking ahead to a way forward.

The session was chaired by Ran Singh Parmar (Chief Functionary of PACS partner Mahatama Gandhi Seva Ashram) who mentioned that MP has the highest share of adivasis (tribals) as well as Dalits. Hence, dependence on land and FRA is very high. He went on to say that these groups are marginalised from all rights and not just land. “The root cause of this discrimination is the assumed inferiority of the dalits and adivasis. But PACS has reminded them of their rights and entitlements, giving them the confidence to raise their voices,” he concluded.

Chair of the session on Land and Forest Rights, Ran Singh Parmar, speaks out about the work that PACS has been doing to secure the rights of Dalit and Scheduled Tribe communities.

State Manager for PACS in MP, Pragyan Mohanty, highlighted some of the land rights achievements of the PACS programme in the State – it has facilitated applications for more than 17,000 individual and community forest right claims and, of the 13000 agricultural land claims applied for, more than 3500 have been accepted. Highlighting strategies used, she said that raising awareness and motivation has been the keys to success. Along with that, all the work has been made possible with support from PACS partners.  “By the end of today, we should be able to identify a way forward” she said.

CSO leader, Uma Goswami from Betul district, mentioned that their district has a 70% tribal population. While she acknowledged PACS’ contribution in facilitating land claims, she also noted how a lot of families have started to argue amongst themselves for land shares. “We need to rise above personal biases and conflicts to be able to develop,” she said. “We thank PACS for starting the work and we hope to take it forward.”

Sharing his story of change, Ramesh Damor - a beneficiary of PACS partner Adivasi Chetna’s FRA programme - told everyone about the fight for his land. “This land has been in our family for 70 years. PACS and Adivasi Chetna helped me with all the processes and procedures to claim my land. Today, I have the letter of authority in my hand. I would like to thank PACS and urge their partners to take the work forward.”

Principal Secretary of the Tribal Welfare Department - Government of MP, Shri BR Naidu, stated that the FRA has not been implemented with the same sensitivity with which it was created. “PACS has shown direction and brought forces together,” he reflected. “A strengthened group is a sign of true empowerment. Use this power to take PACS forward.” He suggested that these empowered groups should identify leaders based on their skills and knowledge and further their efforts for the greater good. To ensure continued leadership at local level, he introduced the ‘Leadership Development Programme’ - an academic degree for social work. It allows people with limited knowledge and skills to qualify themselves and work for their community.

Ran Singh Parmar concluded the session by highlighting all concerns raised, the use of effective technology and suggesting a district level committee for FRA that would work in tandem with all concerned departments.

Session 3: MGNREGA
PACS National Programme Manager for MGNREGA, Shri Rajpal, inaugurated the session with an overview of the initiatives taken by PACS to strengthen demand mechanisms and social audits under MGNREGA.  Among accomplishments, the PACS programme has helped almost 70,000 people in MP to apply for work, of whom 90% have received work as well. As a way forward he suggested enhancing women’s participation, institutionalising social audits and strengthening grievance redressal systems.

From PACS partner Pradan, Sumendra shared his experiences of strengthening labour budgets and planning under MGNREGA. “The success of budgeting and planning depends on bringing people together successfully and working towards the same mission,” he reflected. “PACS taught us to create committees and unions with a consistent cause.”

Sumendra from PACS partner Pradan talks about the success of the work that they have been doing on MGNREGA budgeting and planning, involving all community members.

From PACS partner CASA, Sumanbai also elaborated on budget and planning. She said that the trainings and workshops helped them to gather confidence and to voice their demands in front of authorities. “The fact that we knew the law and our rights helped us to succeed,” she concluded.

Also from CASA, Jeet went on to declare that an empowered Gram Sabha (Village Council) is imperative for successful implementation of MGNREGA and that there is a need for better transparency in the system, especially at the budgeting stage.

Commissioner for MGNREGA from the Government of MP, Shri Raghuraj Rajendran, spoke next stating that decisions for development should be taken by those who are impacted the most. “Social do-it is more important than social audit. PACS has used that model to bring about change,” he said.

Shri Raghuraj Rajendran – Commissioner for MGNREGA, Government of MP – shares his thoughts on the PACS model of working to empower socially excluded communities.

Ex-Social Audit Commissioner for the Government of MP, Dr. Abhay Pandey, enthused the gathering by motivating everyone to demand for MGNREGA work and treat it is a right and not an obligation.

The session was concluded by Sanjay Saraf – Director of the Social Audit Society in MP. He made a critical point that the first step of effective policy making is to ensure social inclusion at the time of planning as well as implementation. Among priorities for MGNREGA, he stated that timely payments are and will remain the top most priority for beneficiaries. Hence, the government must work with a vision to ensure timely wages.

Director of the Social Audit Society in MP, Sanjay Saraf, speaks out about the issue of delayed MGNREGA payments, urging the government to address this problem.

Session 4: Health and Nutrition
The last session of the day was chaired by Mukesh Sinha from PACS partner Madhya Pradesh Voluntary Health Association (MPVHA). “PACS has made the fight for health rights a significant one,” he said. “They have transformed people’s attitudes who now realise the importance of health.”

Mukesh Sinha from PACS partner MPVHA chairs the final session on Day 2 of the PACS Inclusion Utsav in Madhya Pradesh, speaking about the work that PACS has done on health and nutrition.

From the PACS MP team, Niti elaborated on PACS’ interventions on health. She mentioned that when PACS started out, health statistics in the State were dismal. They have reached 9 districts through 14 CSOs and have been able to facilitate over 40,000 institutional deliveries, ensuring the full benefits of JSY to more than 37,000 women. PACS has also facilitated the full entitlement of supplementary nutrition to 21,000 children under the ICDS scheme.

To share her story of change, Rekha from PACS partner Pradeepan took to the stage. She acknowledged PACS’ role in facilitating a network of 210 groups with 3,000 women that is working in more than 200 villages towards non-discriminatory access to health rights.

Sharing a similar experience, Manjari - a CBO leader from PACS partner Pararth Samiti - shared some heartening statistics. She mentioned that there has been a 15% increase (from 69% to 84%) in institutional deliveries in her village. Her CBO has also worked towards eradicating malnutrition. She said the key to success is that all stakeholders are working together towards a common cause.

From UNICEF, Deepika applauded PACS’ effort in the state: “The only way to bring about change is to raise awareness that triggers behavioural change. We must treat nutrition with the same importance as other issues of livelihood,” she said.

Chief Functionary of PACS partner Kshitij, Bhupendra, raised some challenges that need to be addressed. He said that health and nutrition should be treated as one, and the same efforts should be invested for both. He also mentioned that women under the JSY scheme should be paid on time to increase effective implementation of the scheme. “The PACS programme has ensured non-discriminatory access to health rights,” he said. “We must continue their efforts and ensure equal access to health services.”

Bhupendra from PACS partner Kshitij highlights some of the challenges that need to be addressed by the government if health and nutrition services are to be more effective and accessible.

Deputy Director of the National Urban Health Mission for the Government of MP, Dr. Pankaj Shukla, also reiterated the need towards ensuring a better service to citizens. He stated that generating demand is as important as supplementing the supply chain: “PACS and its partners must continue their work in the direction of demand generation. Higher demand allows us to implement the schemes more effectively.”

To conclude the session, Shri KK Thassu – Director for Family Welfare for the Government of MP - released ‘Aashao se Asha’, a collection of stories of change by PACS and its partners. He was of the opinion that discrimination will only go away when people decide to do away with their biases. Such changes happen at an individual level and then snowball into a societal change. He urged everyone to continue their demand for rights and entitlements.

Day 2 ended with dance performance by the Ghatlinga Nritya Mandal and Bageshur Adivasi Group.

A musician performs at the cultural show at the end of the second day of the PACS Inclusion Utsav in Bhopal.

Day 3

Session 5: Closure and Celebration
The last day was a celebration of all that PACS and its partners have achieved in MP over the past seven years.  

Head of Finance for PACS, Swati Kundra, left all those present motivated by her words. “PACS has brought change at the community as well as individual level. Everyone wanted change. PACS only gave the push. We have reached more people than we expected and we hope that you all will take our work forward,” she said.

Many beneficiaries and CBO leaders who have worked on various issues including women’s leadership, accessing online services and violence against women, shared their stories and all resonated the same feeling of motivation and passion to continue the work after the PACS programme closes.

Director of PACS, Anand Bolimera, reflected on the PACS journey. “The right to dignity is equal for all,” he said. “The money that the Government of India uses for welfare work is actually a redistribution of the direct and indirect taxes that we pay. Hence, we must not hesitate to demand our rights.”

Anand Kumar Bolimera, Director of PACS, urges the audience at the final day of the PACS Inclusion Utsav in MP to continue demanding their rights and entitlements.

He stated that no organisation can work on development unless they commit to social inclusion. Specific to the PACS programme, he expressed his happiness, mentioning that the team is extremely proud to see the legacy of individual and community leaders that they are leaving behind. He concluded with a request for everyone to be aware, strengthen themselves and continue to fight for their rights.

To conclude the Utsav, everyone from the PACS team felicitated the CSO partners, congratulating them on what they have achieved.

PACS team members felicitate Civil Society Organisation partners at the end of the MP PACS Inclusion Utsav, celebrating the work achieved together.

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