Developmental challenges are diverse, and any single success formula applied in one place may not derive expected result in another place. Every developmental challenge demands contextual analysis and necessary policy formulation. Hence, grassroots level movements are very important, particularly in the context of government and civil society organisations inability to reach and address all the issues. Local people are the best judge to understand gravity of a problem and to guide themselves how to find a solution in the given scenario. In most cases grassroots movements are formed as a non-institutionalised collective action strives to bring change. Initially, a local leader or group of people starts such movements and locals gradually become part of the movement when they can relate themselves with the motto of the movement. Often such movements inspire others to identify and act towards their local level problem.
In India one such popular movement was ‘Chipko Movement’ started in the northern Himalayan segment of Uttar Pradesh. The main objective of the movement was to restore lost ecological balance and safeguarding livelihoods of tribal people as their livelihood is revolved around forests. Sunderlal Bahuguna was at forefront of the movement and gradually many women and locals join him and started a non-violent protest by clinging to the trees to prevent those from felling. Chipko movement paved the way for many such environmental movements in India.
I have personally noticed how inaction towards rising violence against women prompted local people to form local level movements. In West Bengal in Kamduni area a girl was raped by a group of local youth while she was coming back from her classes. To ensure justice for Kamduni victim many local women and youth come together and made their appeal at different forums. Soon media people noticed activities of the group and media interest in the case as well as protestors voice pressurised the ruling government to take the matter seriously. Initially ruling government tried to cook up a conspiracy theory that the movement was triggered and suported by their political opponents. Though, later on seeing the adverse public response the ruling government took a lesson from their inaction.
As India shares porous border with countries like Nepal and Bangladesh in many of the bordering region instances of human trafficking is very high. In India because of severe economic disparities in country migration rate is also quite high. In the name of marriages or work many women and girls from poor families become victims of human trafficking. These women and girls often find themselves in brothel houses and dance bars. Some of them also work as bonded labourers. In most cases of trafficking, victims go through severe mental, sexual and physical abuse. Many rescued victims once back to their place of origin started grassroots level movements. They start such movements with an objective so that other girls and women from their area do not face the same fate as theirs. Together with other victims and locals, they try to counsel rescued victims, take initiatives to stop child marriages, try to spread awareness among locals and also look for opportunities/avenues to engage rescued victims.
These grassroots movement often face challenges from local administration and also from the people who are behind the cause of the problem. I think it is our duty to mobilize support for such grassroots level organisations to strengthen their activities. So that in future local women and girls do not become victims of human trafficking.Grassroots Mobilizing