Lok Manch (People’s Forum) is a national platform for promoting the dignity and well-being of marginalized people in India through policy interventions and improved access to their legal rights. It is comprised of approximately 100 Jesuit and secular organizations in 12 Indian states and 15 Jesuit Provinces.
Many rural areas and urban populations in India lack proper access to education and health. This is especially true for groups that the government classifies as Scheduled Castes (also called “dalits”) and Scheduled Tribes (also called “adivasis”). For these groups of people, lack of access to food, water, sanitation and hygiene are major concerns.
In 2009, with pressure from civil society organizations and a ruling from the Supreme Court, the government passed the Food Entitlements Act to eliminate starvation and malnutrition in all areas of the country. Four years later a concrete program was finally launched with the aim of reaching up to 75% of the rural population and 50% of the urban population with specified, guaranteed amounts of food grains.
Unfortunately, entitlement programs such as this become mired in corruption, politics, and lack of intent or resolve to deliver on promises. Lok Manch is committed to countering these obstacles.
The current goal of Lok Manch is to develop a vibrant network to help improve the quality of life for up to 300,000 households. The process is guided by thousands of community leaders, 50% of whom are women. More than 3,000 leaders have already been trained to provide local communities with up-to-date information on food and other rights under the law, on how to access these rights, and on what measures to take when failures in the system are encountered. Moreover, many thousands of households have already been provided with the information and tools needed to access their rights, beginning with obtaining the required ID.
Lok Manch national coordinator: Fr Jebamalai Stanislaus SJ