Oxfam India Strategy launched by Rahul Bose
Oxfam India’s new strategy for 2010–2015 was launched by Ms. Nisha Agrawal, CEO, Oxfam India and Mr. Rahul Bose, Global Ambassador, Oxfam at N. Delhi, Constitution Club. Followed by the launch, Rahul Bose, addressed the media and elaborated on the rationale, methodology, new focus areas and implementation plans of the strategy.
Let Inclusive Growth become a Reality for Dalits, Tribals, Muslims and Women
"We will work on two to three critical issues in each State to maximize our effectiveness and to bring more impact to our work’’ – Nisha Agrawal, CEO, Oxfam India
A series of consultations organized by Oxfam India in March and April 2010 across the seven new focus States – Assam, Orissa, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Bihar – has reinforced the belief that the focus on lagging States and lagging groups would take the country closer towards achieving the millennium development goals.
"The problems of the lagging States are almost similar and it is therefore, important, for us to pick two or three critical issues in each State so that we are able to close the gaps between the two India’s. Our strategy has a clear objective – to be able to link to grassroots programs to national and State-level advocacy so that the inclusive growth becomes a reality for Dalits, tribals, Muslims and women,’’ says Nisha Agrawal, CEO, Oxfam India.
Indeed, the consultations threw up the fact that the development process is marginalizing several groups across the country – tribals, for example, are being left out in the development process in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and in Bihar leading to a rise in naxalism and social unrest. Whether it is the issue of illegal mining in Orissa or the exploitation of natural resources in Jharkhand, the trend seems to be the same – there is a need to close the gaps between the four groups of people that Oxfam India strategy plans to address between the years 2010 and 2015.
In all the four themes that Oxfam India presently works on –Essential Services, Economic Justice, Gender Justice and Humanitarian Response – there are common issues as well as State-specific issues. For example, issues of education, health and social protection are similar in each State but when examined closely from the lens of the four deprived categories of people, nuances emerge. "We will be minutely examining these and then draw up our strategy for each State,’’ said Nisha.
The first consultation was held in Assam and this will be Oxfam India’s first foray into the North East. Three main issues were brought to the fore in the consultation – the issue of under-development of the State, the issue of growing unrest among the disadvantaged people like the tea plantation workers in the State and the need to involve the youth and the people of Assam at large in the larger development process. " The idea is to look at factors which are impeding the progress of State and then take up issues and themes that could help the State climb up the development index,’’ said Nisha.
Oxfam has been working in Uttar Pradesh for more than 25 years now and the renewed strategy for the State will look at how lessons learnt from the increased representation of Dalits in the political arena can be applied to close the gaps between other groups of people especially between Muslims and non-Muslim. Oxfam India has a large number of interesting projects in the State like getting recognition to women farmers, improving the livelihood of people in the Bundelkhand area, promoting community monitoring models in education, etc.
The Patna consultation was attended by Keith Johnston, Chair of the Oxfam International Board, who also visited the villages in and around Muzaffarpur where Oxfam India partners are working to reduce the incidence of violence against women. Adaptation to climate change was another piece of work that Keith was able to witness. "These have been important thrust areas for Oxfam in India and in all the consultations; the status of women has been rued. We will continue to work in the area of reducing domestic violence while deepening our understanding on political empowerment of women,’’ said Nisha, adding that the consultations have helped in understanding cross-cutting issues as well as identify niche issues in every State.
In terms of humanitarian preparedness and disaster-risk reduction, the whole gamut of natural and man-made disasters that India faces in the focus States unfolded. While natural disasters like floods, earthquakes, cyclones, etc found a mention, issues of displacement, climate change and even terrorism and other man-made disasters were also echoed as areas demanding urgent intervention. ``Oxfam India will continue to respond to natural disasters as and when they occur in any part of the country,’’ said Nisha, adding that the present Kolkata office of Oxfam India would emerge as a humanitarian hub.
While Oxfam India will continue to implement grassroots programs in each one of the focus States, it will also be looking at mobilizing people to put pressure on governments to implement the policies and schemes, allocate or spend resources appropriately and to connect grassroots work to policy advocacy. And to do so, it will take the help of various development actors from the grassroots to the global level, whether it is people in the government, the political class, the growing middle class in the country, people in the private sector and the youth.
The Oxfam India strategy was launched in Delhi by Rahul Bose, Oxfam ambassador. Inaugurating the new strategy, Mr. Rahul Bose, Global Ambassador for Oxfam said, " I share Oxfam's concern over the widening divide between the two India’s - the developed and the underdeveloped - and the many miles the country has to travel to tread a truly inclusive path of development. I also support Oxfam India's call for closing the gap between four groups of people -- women and men; Dalits and non-Dalits; tribals and non-tribals; and Muslims and non-Muslims. As an active citizen of India, I have been supporting many of these causes in the past and I am passionately committed to also supporting them in the future through Oxfam India.''
Story Credit: K. Kannan