The Association of Franciscan Families of India (AFFI) and the Franciscans International (FI), an International Faith Based Organisation with General Status at the United Nations jointly held a special consultation on the Alleviation of extreme poverty and Hunger in the country under the new Food Security Law. The consultation was held at Sadbhavana, Bangalore from 3rd to 5th November, 2014. The State Coordinators of Andhra, Kerala, Karnataka, UP, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal etc participated in the intensive meeting that began with the success stories and victims stories of each state.
The coordinators expressed the ways and means of their networking with the Government Officials, Lawyers, Media personnel, interreligious leaders, civil society activists, NGOs etc. in executing the food schemes of the Government. They continue to focus on the entitlements of the marginalised especially the Tribals, Rural Poor, the Dalit and city slum dwellers and migrants. There is shift in the mind set of the poor due to the trainings organised in all these areas at the state levels and local levels. In all their approach they used the Rights Based Approach with peaceful process.
The Social Advisory Officer of Franciscans International presented the various ways and means of understanding the international and national mechanism in serving the poor, especially those under extreme poverty and hunger.
The president of the AFFI Fr. A.J. Mathew OFM.Cap stressed on the priority of the forgotten people in our network, collaboration, campaign and lobbying. The growth of the society does not lie in the fast improving socio economic system that caters to some or more or many or even most but it lies in total and holistic growth in which no one excluded. This is the gospel focus on development and also the Franciscan radical prophetism.
The National AFFI Coordinator Fr .Nithiya stressed that the Franciscan network at the level of the UN or AFFI is not an exclusive body while dealing with the poorest and the marginalised. In all our approach we need to tap the resources of other Religious Congregations, Other Religious bodies besides the committed experts in the secular society. The Indian Faith Based Network of Food Security Campaign comprises of Coordinators form the Jesuits, SVD, Clunys, St. Annes, and many more. However we have one vision and mission: the welfare of the least, the forgotten, the marginalised etc. The group members came up with concrete action plans with stipulated time frame and tangible results.
Concrete Action plans to alleviate extreme poverty in society
- In Odisha they will focus on the entitlements of Rural and Tribal areas. This will begin with meeting all stake holders inn Orissa, with Franciscans and other Religious Congregations
- In Karnataka the migrants in the slum and their food entitlements will be under top priority. Special focus will be also on other State schemes to the poor and strengthening monitoring mechanism on PDS, working for Old age and Widow Pension
- In Darjeeling area, the network plans to Focus on effective implementation of ICDS and Midday meal Scheme with special attention to the child Rights.
- In Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry the focus will be on Old age pension and widow pensions of the rural poor and slum areas
- In West Bengal the focus will be to strengthen the vigilance Committees so that the poor get their rightful entitlements through the spread of RTF manuals.
- In Maharashtra the network plans to work on Maternity Benefits and ICDS in Rural areas along with health awareness programmes
- In Uttar Pradesh the focus will be on Old age pension and Antyodaya programmes
- In Andhra Pradesh there will be special focus on the unorganised sectors, Old Age pension and Mid day meals for children
- In Northern Maharashtra the network will focus on the Entitlements of the Primitive tribes, Food employment and health, RBA training to rural people and Land issues
Towards the end of the consultation, the group members agreed to exchange their experiences, success stories and victim stories periodically and create strong network with the respective Government officials so that the victims will be enabled to have direct access for their Entitlements.
- Nithiya ofm.cap, Programme Coordinator