Naya Caravan ! Naya Hindusthan ! Together for the bright future milestones The Popular Front of India Popular Front of India is an Indian social movement that is working for the total empowerment of the marginalized sections in the country. The launch of the organization was officially proclaimed on 17 February 2007 at the Empower India Conference held in Bangalore. At the conference, various state-level organizations sharing similar goals and views merged and became one national movement. Presently the organization has an active presence in 23 Indian states. History A common platform called South India Council was formed as the outcome of a discussion attended by social activists and intellectuals from all the South Indian States at Bangalore on 25th & 26th January 2004. Later the Council took up various issues related to community empowerment, especially reservation in education and employment. With the cooperation of the Confederation of Muslim Institutions in India, the Council organized a two-day workshop on Muslim reservation on 26th & 27th November 2005 at Hyderabad. When the Central Government decided to introduce reservation in higher education, the Council organized three regional conventions on reservation: at Calicut on 4th August 2006, at Bangalore on 5th August 2006, and at Chennai on 17th August 2006. A National Convention on Reservation in Higher Education was organized jointly with the All India Milli Council at New Delhi on 29th August 2006 Karnataka Forum for Dignity (KFD) (Karnataka) National Development Front (NDF) (Kerala ) and Manitha Neethi Pasarai (MNP) (Tamil Nadu ) were the constituents of the Council The leadership of these organizations gave serious thoughts into bringing in better coordination among them. The issue was discussed by the rank and file of the organizations. To mark a successful turning point, a joint meeting of the Secretariat of South India Council and representatives of KFD, NDF and MNP held on 22nd November 2006 at Calicut decided to launch Popular Front of India as a federation and approved the vision statement. Cadre-based Mass Organization Popular Front is a cadre-based mass organization. The organization has been successful in building a network of dedicated cadres who are responsible for successfully carrying out various programmes and campaigns of the organization. A major achievement of the Popular Front is the reach and acceptance it acquired among the masses. Our programmes are held at the grass-root level with the involvement of the masses. The blend of a disciplined network of cadres and support from the masses has been one of the major reasons for the growth of the Popular Front. Our Vision Existing socio-economic models of development have failed to alleviate the poverty and backwardness of the people of the country. Since independence, the ruling establishment has empowered the big business houses and the urban and rural elite, as it ignored the basic needs of the people below. The traditionally dominant social groups have hijacked the democratic process by working hand in gloves with neo-colonial, fascist and racist forces. The Dalits, the tribals, the religious, the linguistic and cultural minorities, the backward classes and the women are denied their cultural and social space, making India one of the most backward areas in the world. Resistance against exploitation and deprivation now is mostly local and isolated with no coordination and pooling of resources at a national level. Popular Front of India is a move towards coordination and management of such efforts for the achievement of socio-economic, cultural and political empowerment of the deprived and the downtrodden and the nation at large. It will try to establish an egalitarian society in which freedom, justice and security are enjoyed by all. Focus areas of work A movement committed to empowerment must deal with all aspects of society on a priority basis and the problems of the people are very complex and varied. A comprehensive approach and strategy are needed to address these issues. Hence Popular Front gives due importance to different areas while framing our programmes and campaigns. Our work concentrates mainly on the following areas: • Building self-confidence and a sense of security• Fight against human rights violations• Struggles for social justice• Campaigning against imperialism and fascism• Legal support to innocent victims• Community development projects• Calamity Relief and Rehabilitation• Supporting primary education• Scholarship to poor and meritorious students• The political mobilisation of marginalised classes• Media and publishing activities• Empowering women and families• Guiding students and youth Our Slogan Freedom, Justice, Security Our Goal An India of Equal Rights for all Indians. India is a democratic and secular nation. Our constitution and legal system guarantee equal justice to all citizens and reject all kinds of discrimination. We vote for governments at the centre and states hoping that they will fulfil this constitutional obligation. But unfortunately, the majority of people in the country do not enjoy the fruits of development or growth. In fact, they are victims of purposeful discrimination. When basic rights are denied to any class of citizens, it is their duty to stand up and raise their voice for equal rights and justice, resist anti-people and anti-national forces and strive for their own empowerment. This is the idea of the Popular Front of India. Popular Front thinks that it is a need of the hour that all religious communities should join hands to save India from the clutches of corporate-controlled, corrupt, communal fascist rule. All marginalised and backward sections like Adivasis, Dalits, Muslims and BCs should fight for their rights and justice unitedly. Other secular groups also should be part of this rainbow coalition. We strongly believe that broad-based alliances among various anti-fascist forces will be key to protect the values of our democracy. National Campaigns Movement for Reservation: Various campaigns for reservation in government services and educational institutions through various agitations for backward communities. Popular Front questioned the discrimination against Muslims in providing quota reservation even after the finding of Sachar Committee that they are the most backward. Lest we forget Babri Masjid: The demolition of Babri Masjid was not only an assault on minority rights but a death blow to the secular values of the nation. Popular Front’s Babri Masjid campaign on December 6 every year during the past 30 years has been a consistent reminder for the reconstruction of Babri Masjid. Celebrating freedom: Popular Front joins the Independence Day celebrations to revive the legacy of our freedom struggle. The Freedom Parade which was held as an expression of patriotism for several years was stopped by the administration mainly to prevent the growing influence of the organization. However, Front continues to be at the forefront of the celebrations through various programmes. School Chalo: This annual educational intervention in the majority of states which focus on school dropout surveys, admission supports, parent awareness programmes, school kits and scholarships distribution is acclaimed as the largest educational campaign carried at a non-governmental level. Healthy People; Healthy Nation: Creating awareness about healthy life, exercises and yoga are the objectives of the campaign and it is organised on an annual basis. Distribution of handbooks, marathon races, sports meet, demonstration of yoga, health camps, blood donation camps, etc. are parts of the campaign. Popular Front Day: Popular Front Day is celebrated all over India to commemorate its formal launching as a national movement on 17 February 2006. The day annually witnesses large scale participation of people in the rallies and volunteer marches. Smear Campaign against Popular Front Our call for the total empowerment of the Muslims and depressed classes turned out to be sore in the eyes of those who have monopolised power. They weave lies about Popular Front. Sangh Parivar with their agents inside the administration and police join hands with a section of media to unleash well-planned propaganda against the Front. It is part of the game, and the purpose is to tarnish this people’s movement. But the truth always prevails. Popular Front has never been found responsible, at any stage of the enquiries, for any acts that were carried out to destabilize the country. Nobody in the past could book a case against Popular Front for inciting communal feelings. No Popular Front activist is there among the accused, jailed or booked for mass murder or genocide or any anti-national and terrorist activity while many Sanghi people were involved in such heinous acts. Government interest need not be national interest always. Criticising the policies of the government is not an anti-national activity. The attempts to frame groups that struggle for the empowerment of the backward classes and minorities are not born out of patriotism. The terrorist-militant label is one of the easiest and convenient tools used to suppress the legitimate struggle for equality and justice. The label of terrorism selectively imposed on the Popular Front is part of this game. This is being done to keep people away from organizations working for people’s rights. Together for future The mission of the Popular Front of India is to enable the marginalised and deprived classes to stand on their own feet to strive for a bright future. The power gained by sectarian forces does not mean that Indian people are going for chauvinism and exclusive nationalism. All tyrannies of the past have ultimately gone to the dust bin of history. And final victory is always with the oppressed masses.