From 3 to 11 October 2012, 60,000 landless farmers marched from Gwalior to Agra in Northern India during the Jan Satyagraha 2012. In Agra one of the largest foot marches ever seen in India was concluded with great success: Jairam Ramesh, Minister of Rural Development of the Government of India and PV Rajagopal, President of Ekta Parishad and leader of the Jan Satyagraha, signed an agreement covering ten points which are intended to open the way for fundamental land reform in India. A task force, made up of representatives of the Indian Government, Jan Satyagraha and other land reform specialists, now need to draw up an appropriate draft law by April 2013. The major concerns of Ekta Parishad in this process are the following:
- Implementation of the pledges regarding land reform given by the Indian Government on the occasion of the last great march in 2007 (Janadesh).
- Effective implementation, within a clearly defined time frame, of the Forest Law of 2006 guaranteeing forest dwellers and Adivasis the right to live and use their ancestral land.
- Laws relevant for land issues and political practices to be reformulated to serve the interests of the poor; the state to be held responsible for its policies and programmes affecting the concerns of the marginalised.
- Settlement to be reached regarding cases relating to land disputes of displaced persons and the dispossessed. Special consideration to be paid to the requirements of women.
- To encourage sustainable development, more attention to be paid to fostering women’s emancipation.
- Genuine decentralisation of power and local control of resources as suggested in the Forest Reform of 2006.
- A transition is needed from large-scale industrial development to a rural economy focusing on the needs of people.
- A mechanism to be put in place to regulate the exploitation of natural resources by large companies in order to protect the rural poor.