A range of concerned citizens, mass organizations, social movements, trade unions and political parties came together to form the All India People’s Forum (AIPF) to take on the offensive of communal and pro-corporate policies. The Founding Conference of the All India People’s Forum was held at Ambedkar Bhawan at Delhi on 14-15 March 2015.
A Foundation Statement as well as Charter of Demands and Basic Structure and Norms of the AIPF were unanimously adopted by the founding conference. A Panel of Advisors, Campaign Committee and All India Council was formed with activists and organisations from all over the country.
We appeal to like-minded organisations and activists to join the AIPF and strengthen the ongoing struggle to defend democratic values and people’s hard won rights.
We concerned citizens and members of mass organizations, social movements, trade unions and political parties from various progressive traditions have come together in the All India People’s Forum (AIPF) to assert people’s rights to land, livelihood, education and healthcare, just and equitable development, justice, peace, dignity and freedom in the face of the heightened communal-corporate offensive, growing imperialist domination, state repression, social oppression and caste and gender violence and injustice that threatens those rights; and carry forward the struggles taking place across India for a free, equal and just society, where citizens are guaranteed basic rights, dignity and equal opportunities to fulfil their aspirations without the fear of sectarian violence, repression and discrimination.
Despite the promises made in our Constitution, the Indian state has consistently failed to deliver justice to the people, as can be seen in the appalling levels of poverty and inequality persisting after six decades of independence, even as the overwhelming majority of people remain subjected to systemic exploitation and oppression, exclusion and neglect. The shame of a resource-rich populous country like India being home to the world’s biggest contingent of poor and deprived people must be ended once and for all, and India must come to be known as a country advancing on the strength of the well-being of its people, guaranteeing food, health, housing, education, employment and decent livelihood for all.
The last quarter of a century has seen the devastating effects of the neoliberal offensive of global capital. In India today we are witnessing an intensification of this offensive coupled with a vicious communal campaign spearheaded by the Sangh Parivar and patronised by the BJP from the vantage position of governmental power at the Centre and in several states. The growing corporate takeover of the economy and communalization of the polity has put democracy and pluralism under serious threat. It is therefore an urgent need to pool all our strength and energies for a powerful movement to beat back the corporate-communal offensive and reclaim the republic.
The AIPF is determined to resist every attempt by imperialist forces, in collusion with India’s own ruling elite, to undermine the Indian people’s sovereignty and autonomy in shaping policies that are best suited to India’s own priorities and democratic principles. Having suffered the disastrous consequences of colonialism for centuries, India must reject the perilous course of economic hegemony of the global north and strategic integration with the US-Israel nexus and stand boldly with the peoples’ yearning for peace, freedom and progress against imperialist aggression, domination, plunder, war and occupation. India must follow the principle of solidarity and cooperation with the global South, India must make every effort to promote bilateral and multilateral cooperation with neighbouring countries on the basis of mutuality and equality, rejecting the ominous course of war, confrontation and arms race.
The AIPF will strive for a society free of discrimination and oppression on the grounds of gender, caste, religion, region, ethnicity, language, nationality and sexual orientation. The AIPF is committed to resisting caste oppression and social discrimination and prejudice, and striving for the annihilation of caste. The AIPF is determined to carry forward the battle for justice, dignity and the fullest freedom of Dalits and other oppressed castes and communities and to defend vigorously and resolutely the rights of Adivasis and all sections of indigenous people to autonomy, identity and access to natural resources including forest produce and forest lands. The AIPF shall resist patriarchy and every attack on the freedom and dignity of women, and all kinds of gender based violence and discrimination.
The AIPF stands firmly against every move to deepen communal divisions and create communal distrust in society and is committed to resisting communal hate campaigns and attempts to impose homogenization and majoritarian hegemony. We believe that a robust people’s unity can be achieved only on the basis of respect for differences and plurality, and mutual solidarity of all sections of people striving to defend and expand their rights and freedoms. India has experienced horrendous episodes of communal, caste and ethnic violence of the most dehumanizing and brutalizing kinds some of which have taken genocidal proportions. In most of these instances of sustained mass violence the state has been at best a mute spectator, and has more often been a co-perpetrator or a sponsor of the violence. In recent decades India has also experienced the trauma of terrorism, often generated, worsened or reinforced by the state through the terror of counter-insurgency campaigns and militarization on the pretext of internal security. The real test of democracy lies in taking the country out of the trajectory of sectarian strife and terrorism without ever compromising on the principles of democracy and justice and constantly upholding the pluralism and diversity that is the hallmark of the mosaic that is India.
The AIPF vision of Indian unity rests on the vibrant spirit and framework of democratic decentralization of power, devolution of resources and democratic development based on principles of equality and justice and not through militarization, muzzling of dissent and compartmentalization of the country into pockets of prosperity and enclaves of deprivation and plunder. The continuing brutal military repression of the aspirations of the peoples of Kashmir and the North East is especially shameful. Various constitutional provisions ranging from Article 370 upholding the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, Article 244A promising ‘autonomous state’ to the hill districts of Assam to special rights of areas under the Fifth and Sixth Schedules of the Constitution have been systematically violated and subverted and even denied outright. Movements demanding newer states are routinely sought to be discredited as separatist and divisive activities and crushed by unleashing severe repression till new states are eventually accepted as a political reality. All this vitiates the atmosphere and weakens the spirit of trust and the bond of unity. The AIPF stands for a healthy promotion of unity through diversity, safeguarding the rights, aspirations and distinct character of every federating identity.
The AIPF rejects the neo-liberal corporate driven mode of ‘development’ that indiscriminately uses up scarce and precious resources without any concern for sustainability and environmental protection, marginalises workers and producers, and places at its heart the profit of a few over the well-being and rights of the many. The AIPF fights to secure a democratic, equitable, socially just and sustainable model of development that reconciles growth with redistributive justice, ensures the right of working people to secure and dignified jobs and decent livelihood for all, makes judicious use of resources while safeguarding the environment, meets people’s energy needs in sustainable and safe ways, and decentralizes decision-making and allows for people to make decisions about their own lives and development needs.
AIPF firmly rejects commercialisation and saffronisation of education from school to higher education and the spate of moves to dictate curriculum, rules and appointments for imposing the obscurantist and divisive ideology. AIPF resolves to fight for equitable, affordable, quality education for all; for rational, plural, democratic and secular ethos in education; for democratic autonomy of educational and research institutions and cultural bodies. AIPF will actively work for safeguarding freedom of expression and critical thinking, and rational and scientific temper in society.
The AIPF firmly believes that the realisation of the dream of a truly developed and advancing India calls for the unfettering of the productive energies and creative faculties of people which can only be achieved on the basis of the deepest and widest expansion of democracy in every sphere of life. The AIPF recognizes that democracy cannot be restricted to a five-yearly vote alone, while concentrating and centralising all powers in the service of corporate interests. The AIPF will work tirelessly to resist state repression, secure the repeal of all draconian laws including the UAPA and the AFSPA and the sedition law, and to bring about legal, judicial and administrative reforms to empower the commonest of citizens, end the impunity enjoyed by police, paramilitary and armed forces and make sure that all institutions of government are accessible and accountable to the people. The AIPF will also work for extensive electoral reforms to challenge corporate and institutional funding and administrative manipulations and for proportional representation and the right to recall, to ensure a system of government that is more representative, participatory and accountable.
We need a sustained, powerful mass awakening and movement to realise the vision of a genuinely free, developed and democratic India. The emergence of the All India People’s Forum reflects this widely and keenly felt urge and shared resolve to foster broader unity and closer cooperation amongst organizations and people from all progressive traditions.
We shall unite, we shall fight, we shall win.
The AIPF Charter of Struggle
Guarantee of Land, Food, Livelihood
No to Corporate land grab and land acquisition without prior consent; social and environmental impact assessment and fair compensation and rehabilitation for land- and livelihood-losers; protection of fertile, forest and coastal land.
Ensure Minimum Support Prices for farmers and subsidised irrigation, power, fertilisers and easy and cheap credit to reenergise agriculture and end farmers’ distress and farmers’ suicides
Stop retrograde changes in Food Security law, scrap APL/BPL and universalise food security; no to slashing of budget for ICDS
Stop moves to dismantle MNREGA and other welfare schemes
Curb price rise in all essential commodities
Affordable, Quality, Equitable Education
Ensure universal right to equitable, good quality education and introduction of a common school system; resist commercialisation and privatisation of schooling as well as higher education; ensure that each and every student in India has access to higher education, without being excluded by high fees and shortage of seats; resist saffronization of education and promote secular and scientific education; protect autonomy of educational institutions, as well as campus democracy and students’ right to hold regular union elections in every campus, in keeping with norms democratically decided by the student bodies themselves and not through undemocratic Lyngdoh Committee-style recommendations.
Affordable, Quality Healthcare and Housing
Ensure universal right to accessible healthcare of the highest quality, and eradication of chronic hunger; save India’s Intellectual Property Rights regime from the ongoing attempts at erosion, ensure easy access to high quality generic medicines; end drug trials and coercive population control policies targeting Indian women.
Ensure right to housing, power, water and sanitation, as well as social security and pensions for all.
Pro-people Economic Policies
Reverse the policy of taxing the poor to subsidise the rich; tax the rich to spend on the poor.
Reduce excise duties on petro-products and bring down fuel prices
No to FDI in insurance, defense and multi-brand retail, disinvestment in PSUs and privatization of natural resources like coal; expand public investment in social and physical infrastructure, stop covert expansion of private monopolies via PPP mode in crucial infrastructure sector.
Promotion of small and medium enterprises with an accent on employment generation
Removing Corruption, Scams and Black Money
Revert the neo-liberal policy of handing over natural resources, forests and mineral reserves to private corporates, which lies at the heart of present day mega scams and plunder of our natural resources.
Make public the names of all those with black money stashed in Swiss banks, bring this money back to the country to be used for public welfare, and plug every route (like Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement with Mauritius) for the daily outflow of black money.
Employment with Dignity and Rights
Stop attempts to violate, dilute and erode labour laws and rights in the name of a ‘flexible labour market’; ensure job security and an end to rampant contractualization; strictly implement minimum wage laws and expand minimum wage provisions, uphold full rights to trade unions and collective bargaining.
Enact a Right to Employment and Sustenance Act with provisions for unemployment allowance, and allowances for widow, old-age and persons with disabilities.
Recognise artisans, craftsmen, including those in self employment in the informal and unorganised sector with a single identity card enabling them to avail all special benefits in housing, health and education.
Stop destruction of forests and the environment through dilution of Environmental Regulations and Forest Rights Act; promote sustainable development
Heed the demands of ongoing struggles against nuclear projects, big dams and other anti-people projects; stop dilution of nuclear suppliers’ liability and expansion of nuclear power; explore sustainable energy alternatives.
Freedom from Communal and Casteist Violence
Act firmly to stop communal campaigns to conduct ‘ghar wapsi’ and spread the ‘love jehad’ myth; arrest and prosecute those responsible for hate speeches and communal and sectarian violence; enact a law against communal violence that holds the political and govt authorities in command accountable for preventing such violence.
Punish sponsors and perpetrators of all cases of caste massacres, communal pogroms, custodial killings and rapes. End the inordinate delay in justice process and compensation for the victims of 1984 anti-Sikh and 2002 Gujarat pogroms; as well as victims of massive caste-communal massacres of Bathanitola, Laxmanpur Bathe, Tsundur, Hashimpura and other such atrocities.
Defending Democratic Rights: Scrapping Draconian Laws, Rejecting Communal and Racist Profiling
No to attacks on democratic rights and freedom of expression; repeal draconian laws like AFSPA, UAPA and the sedition law;
Take stringent measures to put an end to rampant custodial torture and killings and the witch-hunt of minority youth and adivasis in the name of combating terrorism
Withdraw false cases and release activists and innocent people who have been languishing in jail
Enact a law against racist discrimination and violence.
Reforms in Police and Army
Implement police reforms, to make the police accountable to constitutional norms
Institute an Army Reforms Commission; restrict use of army internally to humanitarian purposes, not internal security; thorough study of adverse effects on army organisations due to prolonged deployment in internal security in last two decades; reforms in army service conditions, welfare and rehabilitation.
Ensuring Women’s Freedom and Autonomy, Rights and Dignity of all Gender Identities and Expressions
Take measures to curb all forms of violence against women; uphold the unfettered autonomy of women; act sternly to prevent moral policing, imposition of dress codes or attempts to restrict women’s freedom of mobility or choice of partner; implement all recommendations of the Justice Verma Committee; Enact 33 percent reservation bill for women in parliament and state assemblies; crisis centres and shelters for survivors of gender violence; recognition, rights and social security for all sections of women workers.
Scrap Section 377 and ensure equal rights and dignity for lesbian, gay, transgender and queer people; implement the Supreme Court’s recommendation of recognition and welfare measures for transgender people.
Rights, Justice, Dignity and Welfare of Oppressed Castes, Nationalities and Minorities
Uphold social justice for dalits, adivasis and backward communities; defend existing quotas and ensure their proper implementation in education and jobs and extend reservations to the Private sector; implement recommendations of Sachar committee and Ranganath Mishra Commission.
Ensure proper implementation of Prime Minister’s New 15 Point Programme and redesigning of Multi-sectoral Development Programme (MSDP) to deliver benefits to the smaller concentration of target groups, make public and implement the Kundu committee recommendations on diversity index.
Instituting an Equal Opportunity Commission.
Safeguarding Citizen’s Right to Privacy
Scrap the Aadhaar scheme that violates citizens’ privacy; put an end to all attempts to link the Aadhaar card to welfare schemes.
Statehood and Autonomy
Sympathetic consideration of popular agitations around well-founded demands for creation of new states; provision of greater powers and autonomy for backward regions; formation of second states reorganisation commission.
Switch to a system of proportional electoral representation; no to corporate or institutional funding of political parties and elections; bring expenditure directly incurred by parties and by other surrogate means under the EC scanner and fix a ceiling for such expenditure; bring political funding under RTI; right to recall.
AIPF Basic Structure and Norms
All India People’s Forum is united platform of democratic organizations and individuals committed to the fullest realization of democratic rights, wellbeing and dignified and harmonious coexistence of the Indian people cutting across sectarian divides.
The AIPF is guided by its basic objectives as enunciated in its foundation statement and action charter as adopted and updated periodically in the light of the developing situation.
The AIPF will have a broad-based national council which will meet annually and convene biennial conferences and periodic consultations/workshops to adopt policies and discuss and develop appropriate courses of action. The implementation of the Forum’s plans and response of the Forum to various issues will be guided by an all India Campaign Committee.
The Campaign Committee will be assisted on a regular basis by a compact Secretarial Team which will also be responsible for propagating and publicizing the Forum’s activities, positions and relevant information by various means.
There will also be an advisory panel to guide and advise the Forum on various subjects. The Forum will also have dedicated cells to deal with specific issues and subjects. Similar structures will also be developed in various states, UTs and autonomous regions.
The decisions of the Forum will be adopted through collective consultations and deliberations and preferably by consensus. If consensus cannot be evolved on any subject, the decision will rest with the All India Campaign Committee.
The expenses of the AIPF will be borne collectively by affiliated organizations and individuals. Every affiliated organization and individual will contribute periodically to the AIPF fund to ensure regular functioning of the forum. The Forum will rely exclusively on the voluntary support and contribution secured from the people and will not take any kind of corporate/government/institutional funding.