I am working for the human rights issues of Civil population living in the cantonment areas in India. Cantonments are the settlements established in british raj. Due to complex governance structure civil population in the cantonment areas in India are living an excluded life. I am born and bought up in the army governed area as my grand father was working in one of a army depot. and enjoyed all civic amenities and safety. when he got retired we had to leave the government house and settled in an civil area. Near my house there was a big slum named shivajinagar. from my balcony i used to observe the family life people were living in the house. Since it was just a small rooms most of the household cores goes out side only. during this i observed the illicit relationship of the children & parents were they used to use the abuse words to each of them. that incidence force me to think why the children use such words, what kind of education they are getting. what values they got that made them like this. when though deeply i learned that there is no pre education centre, the parents were alcoholic, the area was dirty with no roads and drainage, no responsible govt. and living in such conditions since generations.
My education has taught me the constitutional rights every human being received and learned that its governments responsibility. Then why this situation here is this. Why we don't find any education centre here and stepped out to find the solution and reached the cantonment office.
Here for the first time i learned that the cantonment boards are the local self governance for the area but do not work as like any other munciple corporation as these are are special government due to army. But what my education and learning i received did not allow me to sit and struggled to get the answers. Inspite of approaching many human rights activists , beaurocrates and other civil society i did not get any answer. And decided to find out my own solutions. and started working in the communities with the people residing in the slums.
There were many challenges in front of me. firstly no one was believing that things in the cantonment areas can change. The existence of military will not be allowed any thing to happen. This is what people were experiencing since generations. It was an impression that talking about our human rights and demanding to the government is talking against government and hence people were feeling threat to talk about their own problems. There was almost non existence of local self governance. Though physically some office was existing community people were not aware and dare to reach the place. The political elected members were also not aware about the Act which was passed during British Raj ,under which the governance was going on in the board . Hence even they could not actively participate in the governance and influence or address the community issues. The state government was ignoring saying that it is not under their jurisdiction. In such condition it was very challenging to make people to step out and organize for their human rights.
When i did not find any answer i approached one to one person made them to realize about the existing human right and the responsibility of the government and encouraged to get organize for addressing the issues. Many of them initially did not turn. but one by one i could form a small team who came together and show there readiness to discuss and understand the issue in search of solutions. We our self started studying the cantonment Act , Indian Constitution , Universal Human Declarations and searched out the basis on which we can demand out rights. By using this knowledge we educated many other community people and increased our community connections and started putting up our issues to the government simultaneously that took up a shape of people's network to make difference and create favorable atmosphere for people to live a dignified life.
Achievements - Now in all 07 cantonments in Maharashtra state Community people do not feel threat and confidently speak about their problems. visit the office bearers with demand letters. The cantonments got sensitize and listen to the people. The main achievements we got that the state government which was ignoring due to jurisdiction has implemented the govt. scheme ICDS ( Integrated Child Development Scheme ) for the first time in 2012 which was benefited to thousands of children and pregnant mothers. Though we got one national program in the cantonment area, we will be struggling continuously till we do not get equal provisions as like Municipal corporation and get space in the national plan.