Pastoralist parliament as a way to amplify their voice to the government of India

Monday, 10th July 2017

The pastoralists (Maldhari in Gujarati) are largely remaining as the unheard and the unseen in the development agenda, both at the state, nor at the national level. Their zero representation in the policies making process, which are seen to adversely affect the existence of the pastoralists, has also becomes an undeniable fact.

Departing from such reality, since the last 8 years, MARAG (Maldhari Rural Action Group) and its CBOs ‘Maldhari Vikas Sangthan’ organized a Pastoralist Parliament, aims to raise collective voice on Commons and Livelihoods for Pastoralists, in several Districts of Gujarat.

The parliament convened in Dwarka district, where Corporates acquired the commons land, leaving very few for the pastoralists, and leading toward negative impacts on the pastoralist culture. The Pastoralists are struggling for their livelihoods, where they are forced to leave Livestock keeping, as their traditional source of income. The objective of the parliament is to create a buzz, in and around the district, as well as throughout the state, on the burning issues of commons land, based on the pastorals’ point of view.

It brought together several sub-cadres of pastorals in the state. They met with religious and political leaders, as well as the social leaders, who spoke on behalf of the pastorals, and conveyed their commitment in connecting with the issue, and promised to contribute to the community.

Four strategies were formulated through this parliament; connect, mobilize, campaign, and build pressure to the government to protect the commons land (esp. grazing land).

More than 3000 Pastoralists were participating from 12 districts (out of 33 districts in Gujarat), where they were given the opportunity to share their status of reduced livestock and commons, due to the repressive policies issued by the Government.  

Three resolutions were later on generated on commons and pastoralists;

  1. Organize district level Convention and raise protest to the State Grazing Land Policy,
  2. Mainstream the Commons, and
  3.  Pastoralist Issues to be included within Political party agenda.

News and photo credit by MARAG