Today, 90% of India owns less than a quarter of the country’s wealth. While the existence of such inequality is deeply disturbing, it is even more disturbing to know that certain groups in the country are further being excluded from India's growth story.
“Inclusion is not opening the wicket gate so that a few marginalized can enter and socialize with the mainstream, giving a semblance of inclusion. It involves opening the gate wide at its hinges to create a truly inclusive society”, a young activist from Bihar sums up the challenge facing those excluded economically, socially as well as politically.
This very activist along with his community and another 175 communities were interviewed for a study on social inclusion. It was a collaboration between The Centre for Social Equity and United Nations Development Programme. The two-phase in-depth study conducted across nine states in India attempted to analyse and understand how leaders who belonged to marginalised communities are working towards including their community, in the growth taking place in the country.
Today in an event in New Delhi, OXFAM India in partnership with Centre for Social Equity & Inclusion (CSEI) and Praxis announced the launch of their project - BY THE PEOPLE: Civil society organizations led by members of marginalised communities influencing governance processes for inclusive development. The project is supported by the Europe Union (EU). They believe that the project is not only interesting but an important piece of work when it comes to realizing the Sustainable Development Goals.
The 4 year long project aims to address the challenges faced by the most marginalised communities -- that limited or no access to basic rights such as education, health, food and forest rights, lie at the heart of exclusion.
In the time period that the project will unfold, it will strive to build equity by engaging with members of marginalised communities from six states (Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, and Delhi) across India.
By The People project intends to strengthen and support leaders from within their respective communities so they can mobilise their communities to participate in the policy making process thereby creating a more inclusive society.
Exclusion is not new in India. It cuts across the lines of caste, religion and gender. But with this project the partner organisations are attempting to utilise the knowledge and energies of 40% of the country's population that comprises of marginalised groups and encourage an inclusive development.
Written by: Oxfam India staff