How has 2008 been for civil society? It's been a year of battles.
What are the disappointments? We haven't got permission on the rehabilitation policy. The unorganised Workers' Social Security Bill hasn't materialised into anything concrete. The PV Rajagopal Ekta Parishad Committee, set up to look after land issues and rights, did nothing. The UPA Government isn't sticking to its promises. They have not looked at urban employment guarantee, the SEZ policy and other serious issues. The government had no systematic dialogue with peoples' groups.
What are the triumphs? The NREGA was a big positive: it benefitted millions at a stroke. The people of Goa threw out the SEZ: their resilience inspired India. Despite the terror attacks in Mumbai, people have realised that we have to collectively ask for accountable government. People have delinked terror from their vote to build a more responsible and accountable system. Kashmir saw a greater voter turnout than ever before. India must listen.
Five issues of concern for 2009? The urban employment guarantee act, unorganised sector social security bill, land acquisition act and rehabilitation policy that were promised should be looked at. Right to education must be comprehensive and implementable. The government must keep its promise for proactive disclosure under RTI, and the NREGA must be implemented in letter and spirit. The Forest Rights Bill must be put into place.
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