Activists and individuals representing the marginalised of the country organise their own Republic Day parade demanding that the government fulfill its constitutional promises
By Team FI
A broad platform of LGBT groups, women’s groups, workers, students and persons with disabilities organised a Republic Day Parade in the capital today.
Raising the slogan, ‘We The People, Reclaim our Republic’, some 400-odd people held their own Republic Day march in Delhi to reiterate their right to the Constitution of India and to remind the State of its unfulfilled constitutional promises to the marginalised in society. The protestors felt that the annual Rajpath Republic Day parade held by the government represented only the powerful. The intention to hold this parade was to commemorate the Republic not as minorities, or others but as the people of the country. The protestors marched from the crossing of Barakhamba Road and Tolystoy Marg to the Jantar Mantar. The march ended with speeches, performances and slogans.
A press note issued by the organisers pointed out that the legislature, the executive, and the judiciary of the country — have failed their Constitutional duty to protect and advance people’s constitutional rights listing the examples of the recent of re-criminalisation of homosexuality by the judiciary through Sec 377 IPC; the failure of the executive to introduce suitable amendments into as yet untabled Disability Rights Bill, 2013; the continuing presence of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA); the active use of UAPA and sedition laws; the apathy of the state in the face of deepening caste and religious violence; the inadequacies of the Criminal Law Amendment Bill 2013 to address violence against women, among many others.
Rejecting the spectacle of the parade of weapons, this year we declare an alternative agenda for the people’s republic
The following is the agenda of the People’s Republic groups:
Gender, Sexuality and Violence
• Repeal Section 377 of the IPC and other laws on sexual or gender identity, obscenity, or public nuisance that render people vulnerable because of their sexual orientation or gender identity
• Address extra-legal violence in private and public on the basis of gender, caste, and faith
• Address urgent lacunae in the laws on sexual violence to include violence against transgender people and men, penalise marital rape and remove impunity for the Army
• Work across institutions to make private and public spaces safe for women
• Recognize organised violence against minority communities and strengthen their claims to justice by passing the Communal Violence Bill.
• Abolish the Death Penality
• Amend the Special Marriage Act to remove notification to homes and police stations.
• Opening homes for protection for inter-faith and inter-caste couples in need
• Pass comprehensive Non-discrimination legislation that prevents discrimination between citizens and private actors, institutions and within the family.
• Mainstream people with disabilities – inclusion is non-negotiable!
• Mandate and encourage making private and public spaces accessible for people with disabilities
State Violence and Power
• Repeal the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and end millitary rule
• Repeal UAPA and Sedition Laws used to target citizens and political activists
• Repeal the Prevention of Torture Bill and introduce new legislation in line with Convention against Torture
• Implement police reforms to make the police forces accountable
Transparency and Accountability
• Protect and strengthen RTI by enacting an effective whistleblower protection law immediately and activating Information Commissions
• Enact proposed legislations on accountability: Grievance Redress Bill, Judicial Accountability Bill must be passed
• Grievance redressal centres must be set up at panchayat and ward levels.
• Establish and require institutionalized social audits for every public scheme, and create a separate agency for the same.
• Safe drinking water & sanitation in every household
Economic Development and Social Security
• Strengthen people’s control over their own development and stop evictions, land grabs and appropriations of natural resources
• Universalise social security pensions with exclusions for the non-poor, increase the pension amount to Rs. 2000 or half the minimum wage and link all social security pensions to inflation, to be revised regularly.
• Expand and protect fair use within copyright and patent regimes to ensure access to generic medicines as well as educational materials.
• Revise mininum wage indexes for NREGA and extend livelihood guarnatee to urban areas and workers
• Expand provisions and effectively implement the Unorganised Workers Social Security Act 2008
• Land to every landless family, specially dalit and adivasi women
• Considering the massive expansion of the private sector to the tune of almost 75% of India’s economy, it is necessary that the constitutional mechanism of reservation in private sector be legislated and enforced.