This section of the programme entails mapping the profile of sustainable livelihood and social and political participation in India in the light of globalisation and economic reforms leading to creation of a comprehensive database of the organizations, network and individuals including existing profiles and databases working in the area. The exercise would also try and document existing campaigns and strategies followed by those working in the region.


Strategy Paper for Mapping the Profile of Sustainable Livelihood and Social and Political Participation in South Asia
MCRG, September 17 2004


1. Background

The Region

Although India occupies only 2.4% of the world's land area, it supports over 15% of the world's population. Together with other countries of South Asian region it would add up to 20% of the world’s humanity. Out of this it is estimated that one-third of the overall population lives below poverty line in most of the countries of the region.


There is a widespread perception in the region that the countries in the region are very different from each other not only in terms of politics, culture and society but also in terms of economic structure. But a cursory investigation would show that disparate countries of the region which differ in size, resource endowment, particular social and political configurations, and patterns of constraints, nevertheless, have a remarkable commonality of economic experience. [i]

Thus, all of these economies share certain structural characteristics. These include: A an agricultural base; the presence of a high degree of underemployment; a strong dualism between organised and unorganised sectors, especially in manufacturing, which sometimes (but not always) translates into the dualism between large-scale and small-scale industries; the continuing significance of agriculture as a major employer; the emergence of services as the largest employers, often as a refuge sector; the involvement of by far the larger share of the work force in what is essentially low productivity employment.[ii]

But in addition to these, what is more noteworthy is the apparent synchronicity of policies and processes across the region, despite highly differing social and political pressures. All the economies of the region had import-substituting industrialisation strategies for the first few decades after Independence, with the attendant development of some industry and associated dualism in the economy, as well as regulation of much economic activity.


Economic Reforms and Consequences

From the 1980s onwards, all of them moved, to varying degrees, to a strategy of development based on export-orientation, liberalisation and privatisation based on the marketist neo-liberal economic paradigm. The process gained impetus in the early 1990s, when all the governments in the region (barring that of Nepal, which had very a different situation) went through fairly comprehensive policies of internal liberalisation, reduction of direct state responsibility for a range of goods and services and privatisation[iii].

This commonality of policy experience meant in turn that outcomes were also quite similar, despite the very different initial conditions in the different economies.

  1. Growing inequalities of income in all the economies of the region;

  2. Deceleration of employment generation;

  3. Stagnation or increase in levels of poverty;

  4. Deterioration in quality of employment;

  5. Growth in informalisation and marginalisation of labour;

  6. Increased hardship and vulnerability of marginalised communities;

  7. Decrease in expenditure and subsidies on social sector such as food, agriculture, education, health, poverty alleviation, employment generation etc.

  8. Dismantling of handicrafts and cottage industries;

  9. Loss of rights of communities over Common Property Resources (CPR);

  10. Growing integration of village economy with wider economic processes increasing their susceptibility and vulnerability with respect to changes at broader marketing processes etc.

These measures have not only increased hardships for people at margins but for others in general, due to increased inflation and cut in expenditure in social sectors education, health, housing, water, electricity and other basic amenities have become costlier. Also due to decrease in interest rates on savings, and increased rates of interest on loans retired persons and those in public sector have suffered in equal measures. Due to increased privatisation the organised labour force in erstwhile public sector units has also experienced loss in social security measures and there has been loss of employment opportunities for middle class a section of which has benefited from these processes at the same time.


Crisis of legitimacy and struggle for space

Though at the level of policy most of the states of the region have drawn policy measures keeping in mind their constitutional obligations and international treaties and conventions such as SAARC Social charter, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights-1966 (ICCPR) and International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights-1966 (ICESCR) to alleviate poverty and deal with the vulnerabilities of marginalised communities. However, these policies have failed to deliver the desired results and there has been marginal decline in the poverty levels and improvement of living conditions of these communities. This has come to be signified with the erosion of state authority creating a crisis of legitimacy for the state governments and its ability and mandate to rule. The governments have also come to realise this and started giving up its power of implementing various programmes and policy measures to civil organisations, social movements and NGOs wherever possible or incorporating them in formulation of these policy measures.


It is in this background of globalisation and economic reforms, failure of government to implement the existing policy measures, which itself has its own problems, and bureaucratic corruption that the question of sustainable livelihood of communities at the margins of development assumes greater importance. This has forced the civil society and the communities to take stock of the existing situation and launch campaigns and struggles at all the levels to demand the right for a sustainable livelihood, which goes much beyond the question of food, cloth, and housing and demands right to a dignified life with equal access and control over resources. This struggle has assumed wider dimensions with campaign for transparency, accountability and efficiency from the states and direct participation for the civil society in the matters of governance.


2. Guiding principles

With this background the profiles of organizations, network and individuals engaged in the struggle for socio-economic rights for sustainable livelihood and political participation in the region need to be created for the following reasons :

  1. Stock taking and resource mobilisation

  2. Transfer of customised knowledge for civic action

  3. Empowerment and support for vulnerability protection.

  4. To ensure better networking amongst these actors in the region.

Format for creating the database

It is not very easy to formulate a structure for creation of a database of all the actors working in the area of securing livelihood and socio-political participation for the marginalised communities but for the ease of presentation the database should be arranged under following heads[iv] :

  1. Sustainable livelihood - Access to adequate standard of living – Shelter, clothing and food; ownership to the natural resources; access to development; Employment; Education; Health

  2. Social and political participation - Guarantee of fundamental rights; Promotion and empowerment of the right to participation in the government; Equality and non-discrimination before law; Self-determination and determination of political status; Right of franchise; Right of liberty, security and movement; Access to justice.

Under both the categories the actors should further be arranged according to their focus on Women, Child, Disabled, Old Age Persons, Dalits, Tribals, Labour, farmers, Craftsmen and any other marginalised communities or groups.[v]


The Profiles of individuals, organisations, networks, campaigns, and social movements will have the following components:

  1. Name of the Individuals / Organisation / Networks / Social Movements;

  2. Complete Contact Details;

  3. Issues  / Themes of concern;

  4. Geographical Area;

  5. Target communities;

  6. Brief history;

  7. Nature of Work (Research, advocacy, action-oriented etc.);

  8. Important Campaigns / Strategies / alternatives;

  9. Success Stories;

  10.  Any other.

4. Methodology

5. Time Line

All the partners should finish their work by the end of November 2004 and submit the database and analysis of the strategies employed by these actors to MCRG by December 2004. There is a provision for further additions and updating of the database in the subsequent phases of the project.


6. Outcome

The final outcome should be a comprehensive database of the individuals, organisations, social movements, and networks involved in struggle for securing a sustainable livelihood and socio-economic rights and political participation for vulnerable communities. The database to be supplemented by an analysis of the different strategies employed by these actors in order to help analyse the rights situation and also develop a policy review in each of the countries. Each regional report should be between 50-75 pages in volume containing all the relevant source information, statistics, etc in the following format :

  1. Table of content

  2. Background / Introduction to the project

  3. Analysis of the Strategies and Alternatives

  4. Profile of actors engaged in struggle for Sustainable livelihood for marginal communities a) Women, b) Child, c) Disabled, c) Old Age Persons, d) Dalits, e) Tribals, f) Labour, g) farmers, h) Craftsmen and h) any other.

  5. Profile of actors engaged in struggle for Social and political participation for marginal communities a) Women, b) Child, c) Disabled, c) Old Age Persons, d) Dalits, e) Tribals, f) Labour, g) farmers, h) Craftsmen and h) any other.

  6. Annexure, if any

  7. Glossary of terms

  8. Index

[i] Jayati Ghosh, September 2003 – ‘Strategy of Development’, in Frontline, Vol 20, Issue 18

[ii] Ibid

[iii] Ibid

[iv] To ensure continuity in structure of the mapping and regional policy review this division is based on the “Policy review with critique on sustainable livelihood and social and political participation of the vulnerable groups in South Asia” prepared by FOHRID and circulated to all the regional partners on September 13 2004.

[v] To avoid overlapping in the area of activities of actors the classification should be based on keeping in mind the greater focus area of each of the actors after studying the data available.


Format for creation of a database of Organisations, Networks, Social Movements, and Individuals working in the fields of socio-economic rights for marginalised communities.