The People’s Platform
Shannon Philip is the International Programmes Officer at Jesuit Missions. He looks at the development of Lok Manch throughout the last three years.
The new year brings a new chapter for Lok Manch; the people’s forum in India which is supported by Jesuit Missions. Lok Manch aims to empower citizens across India by ensuring people have access to their basic entitlements such as food, water, employment and health care, all of which are not always provided willingly by the Government.
During the three years in which Lok Manch has been operating, it has achieved numerous successes. Free meals for pregnant women have increased by 46.2% and the provision of free meals for school children have also improved by 63.9% through the efforts of Lok Manch. Alongside these improvements, 34% more people now have access to land rights and legal documentation for their land and 43% of neighbourhoods where Lok Manch are active also saw the launch of new public drinking water facilities. These figures indicate not only the range of different projects that operate under Lok Manch but also the scale at which they are creating an impact in the different regions of India.
When I recently visited some of the projects on the ground, I found the scale of Lok Manch both awe inspiring and humbling. Lok Manch tries to bridge together not only different languages, geographies, cultures, and the people of India, but it also brings together a range of different social, political and economic issues that people face. I attended a planning meeting in Bangalore where simultaneous translations into several different languages were required to make sure all the participants could follow what was being discussed.
The next phase of development for Lok Manch moving forward is to address the bigger and more challenging Indian government around these civic rights through increased advocacy and political impact. The aim of this next phase is to move away from being a series of projects and to become more of a ‘movement’. A powerful, people led and multifaceted force that can bring about real political and social change. This aim is to embrace the differences amongst peoples and their communities, but at the same time balance its forces into a coherent point of action and to achieve results for the advancement of the most marginalised. Jesuit Missions is privileged to be able to support and learn from Lok Manch as to how people can come together and create a change.