Equal Opportunity Commission
The deliberations around an Equal Opportunity Commission in India were initiated by the Ministry of Minority Affairs, Government of India in 2007. The express mandate of the expert committee chaired by Professor N.R. Madhava Menon, of which I was a member, was to formulate a blueprint for a statutory commission that would foster and safeguard the culture of equality and the values enshrined in the Preamble to the Constitution of India with specific protections for deprived and vulnerable groups.
2nd & 3rd NGO Alternative Report on CEDAW, 2007
The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women [CEDAW] examined the Second and Third Periodic Report submitted by the Government of India at its 37th Session in New York on 18th January 2007. The NGO delegation led by Dr. Ruth Manorama presented the 2nd and 3rd NGO Alternative Report, of which I was editor, to the Committee. Based on this report, which focussed on the genocidal violence against Muslims in Gujarat in 2002, the UN Committee raised specific queries in its Concluding Comments that underscored the fact that while de jure equality has been achieved, de facto equality continues to be unrealised. Among its several recommendations to the government for positive action were:
• Enactment of Sex Discrimination Act
• National Plan of Action to combat gender based violence holistically
• Enforcement of laws preventing discrimination against Dalit women
• Affirmative Action to increase women’s representation in Judiciary
• Abolition or reform of Armed Forces Special Powers Act and investigation and prosecution of acts of violence by military in disturbed areas and during detention and interrogation
• Review policy of non-interference in personal laws of communities and withdraw reservations to Articles 5 (a) and 16 (1), which contradict CEDAW and Indian Constitutional Guarantees.
The 4th & 5th NGO Alternative Report on CEDAW, 2014
The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women [CEDAW] examined the Second and Third Periodic Report submitted by the Government of India presented to the CEDAW Committee at its 1219th and 1220th Meetings in Geneva on 2nd July 2014. The NGO Delegation led by Dr. Ruth Manorama presented the 4th & 5th NGO Alternative Report, of which I was editor, to the committee. The significant aspects of this report that marked an advance from the previous report was its focus on women with disabilities and a chapter on General Recommendation 30: Women in Conflict Prevention, Conflict and Post-Conflict Situations.
De-Notified Communities in India
The study on Socio-Economic Status and Educational Attainment and Challenges of Denotified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Tribes was conceptualised as a national educational status report spread across fifteen States by Professor S.K. Thorat, former Chairman, ICSSR in early 2012. The rationale for this study, of which I was National Coordinator, emerged from the deliberations of the National Commission for Denotified, Nomadic and Semi Nomadic Communities, and in discussion with Shri Balkrishna Renke, Chairman, NCDNT.
Forest Dwelling Communities and the Forest Rights Act: Evidence from 24 Sites
Tribal/indigenous peoples, adivasis and forest dwellers live in different states and union territories in India and are spread across the country. Their status, autonomy, rights and entitlements are affirmed by the Constitution of India, and by special legislations, importantly The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) (FRA 2006). Despite constitutional guarantees, protective legislation and earmarked budgets as well as policy initiatives for over seven decades, tribal and forest peoples (hereafter ST and OTFD) in the constitutional era in India have faced chronic and escalating immiserisation and have been pushed to the margins of vulnerability. This vulnerability is the cumulative consequence of centuries of historical injustice, and regimes of oppression and dispossession against STs and OTFDs. This study restates the Indian state’s obligation for the protection of tribal and forest peoples in India, under the generic provisions of the Constitution of India and its Preamble, and the FRA, 2006 which contain protections, and provide pathways for the realization of basic entitlements and reflect the concerns relevant to persons belonging to scheduled tribes, and other traditional forest dwellers. In recognition of the specific concerns pertaining to tribal and forest peoples, our attempt has been to put in place empirical data from twenty-four sites in 11 states in India that point to the urgent need for positive, justiciable measures that will enable for tribal and forest peoples the full enjoyment of the entire range of rights under the Constitution of India. This study, of which I was national coordinator, was carried out by CSD, Hyderabad, in collaboration with Legal Resource Centre, Delhi and Vasudhara - Democratising Natural Resource Governance, Odisha.
Interrogating the 'Normal' in Kashmir( Report of an all-women team)
December 10th 2019 marked 71 years of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which contrarily was witness to the escalating state oppression and heightened military occupation of Kashmir, further erosion of human rights and democracy, following the political repression post 5 August 2019. Narratives of “normalcy” in the Kashmir valley increasingly began to be heard through media reports and orations of ministers, particularly of the ruling central government. A group of five women from Telangana, Meghalaya and Delhi who have been intending to go to Kashmir since August 5, 2019, visited Kashmir between 31 January to 5 February 2020. This report details the situation on the ground in Kashmir as it was reported to us by people living there – exactly six months after the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A of the Constitution of India.