26 Jan: We the People, Reclaim the Republic

A Republic Day March ‘Of the People, By the people, For the people’, January 26, 2014, New Delhi

What are we having this liberty for? We are having this liberty in order to reform our social system, which is full of inequality, discrimination and other things, which conflict with our fundamental rights.-B.R.Ambedkar

“WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens: JUSTICE, social, economic and political; LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; EQUALITY of status and of opportunity; and to promote among them all FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation.” – Preamble to the Constitution of India

Republic Day marks the adoption of the Constitution of India, the end of colonial rule, and the creating of an independent Indian nation. Yet sixty four years later, where do we stand?

The promises of our Constitution – of justice, liberty, equality, and fraternity – remain distant. As citizens, we cannot forget that the rights of the marginalised in our society continue to be gravely violated, as too many continue to face social stigma, violence and discrimination due to their gender, sexual, caste, class, ability, racial, regional, and religious identities. The three arms of government — the legislature, the executive, and the judiciary — have failed their Constitutional duty to protect and advance our rights and include every citizen in the promise of freedom from inequality.

Republic

Rejecting the spectacle of the parade of weapons, this year we declare an alternative agenda for the people’s republic. We do so because recent and on-going blatant violations of Constitutional Rights have made us all hang our heads in shame: the re-criminalization of homosexuality by the judiciary through Sec 377 IPC; the failure of the executive to introduce the Disability Rights Bill, 2013; the continuing presence of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA); the active use of UAPA and sedition laws; the apathy of the state in the face of deepening caste and religious violence; the inadequacies of the Criminal Law Amendment Bill 2013 to address violence against women, among many others.

Today, as citizens and people’s movements, we stand here together to show that our exclusions are deeply inter-connected as are our struggles against them. We stand together against the active denial of basic rights to LGBTQ persons and people with disabilities just as we refuse the pervasive violence against women in all spheres of life and deepening caste based discrimination and violence. We pledge continuing resistance to moral policing just as we join the struggles of all workers from individual domestic workers, to sex workers, and to collectives of workers employed by large corporations. We ask that the private and public spaces in India are made accessible for persons with disabilities as that is the core need for them to access any opportunity and realise their own potential and be part of the mainstream society.

We name and protest the forcible eviction of farmers, indigenous people and urban poor communities from their land with its consequent environmental fallout and devastating impact on livelihoods. We are aware of how corporate interests direct the violence of copyright and patent laws on students and the severely ill, compromising their rights to education and health. We bear witness to governments that unleash the violence of its armed forces upon its own citizens, while enacting and upholding laws that make the executive unaccountable to the legislature, the judiciary or to its citizens. We argue that more violence cannot be the answer: either in the form of the death penalty, or the surveillance, torture and killing justified in the name of ‘national security’. We fear and resist the advent of fascist, fundamentalist forces that may claim to represent the people of this country by manipulating the processes of electoral politics.

As members of the LGBTQ community, women, workers, sex workers, students, teachers, activists, persons with disabilities, health rights activists, Dalits, indigenous people, farmers, those affected by unconstitutional military rule, we are united not as “minorities” or “others,” but as the people. We invoke the promises of the Constitution of India in our name. Our struggle will continue until all arms of the state are unwavering in their constitutional promises towards the marginalized in our society, rather than only representing the powerful.

As we commemorate another Republic Day, We The People proclaim that the parade of the powerful at Rajpath does not represent us. We The People, Reclaim our Republic.

2.30 pm: Assemble at Barakhamba Road-Tolstoy Road Crossing and march to Jantar Mantar

4.00 to 6.00 pm: Representatives of several progressive movements including women, labour rights, Dalit rights, disability rights, child rights, human rights, legal rights, queer, students groups and others, will gather for a programme and reassert our shared vision that everyone be included in the promises of our Republic.

Organised by: Voices Against 377, AIDWA, AIPWA, AISA, All India Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch (AIDMAM), Anhad, Anjuman, Breakthrough, Citizen’s Collective against Sexual Assault (CCSA), CREA, Delhi Queer Pride Committee, Dhanak, duqueercollective, Haq: Centre for Child Rights, Jagori, Jamia Teacher’s Solidarity Association (JTSA), JNUSU, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS), Must Bol, Naz Foundation (India) Trust, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), National Campaign for Peoples’ Right to Information(NCPRI), Nigah, Nirantar, Partners for Law in Development (PLD), Pension Parishad, PUCL, PUDR, Prism, Saheli, Sama, SAMARTHYAM National Centre for Accessible Environments, Talking About Reproductive and Sexual Health Issues (TARSHI), Women Against Sexual Violence & State Repression, Women With Disabilities India Network, Youth Ki Awaaz, The YP Foundation and many individuals from diverse movements.

Email: voicesagainst377@gmail.com and reclaimtherepublic@gmail.com Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/1451397835083871/, Twitter: @peoplertr #ReclaimTheRepublic