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Thematic Areas

Different Chapters and Coordination of FIAN India are active in various fields to defend and promote the human right to feed oneself in the country. The activities and expertise of different FIAN units in India cover a wide range of thematic areas which are crucial to mainstream right to food in the nation. These activities provide us with information related to status of right to food in the country and incidents of violations of right to food, thereby helping us to develop strategies for interventions, research, policy advocacy and lobby works as well as documentations and publications. Currently, the units of FIAN India are dealing with the following themes:

  • Agrarian Reform
  • Voluntary Guidelines on Right to Food
  • Food security Policies of the Government of India
    • Food for work
    • Mid Day Meal
    • PDS and different related schemes
  • Right to work
  • Right to water
  • Country Report on Right to Food

Agrarian Reform

The agrarian economy of India is the major source of livelihood for millions of rural poor in the country. The agrarian structure in India is characterized by unequal distribution of productive resources, including land. The concentration of land rests on a few landholders who are economically powerful compared to the poor and marginal peasants. These productive lands have not been fully utilized and recent studies have shown that the productivity of land decreases when the land goes bottom - up from the hands of the poor to the rich. The implementation of genuine agrarian reform is a precondition to ensure food security for the marginal peasants and landless laborers in India.

FIAN chapters in India have identified the need to promote policies and programmes for genuine agrarian reform in the country. To this end initiatives have been taken to make different stakeholders of the civil society aware of the importance of agrarian reform measures. Sensitisation of state representatives, legislatures and judiciary for formulation of pro-poor agrarian reform policies and for effective implementation of the same are done. At the same time campaigns and media advocacy are important activities of different FIAN chapters in the country to bring the issue of agrarian reform back in agenda, particularly when an alarming tendency of reverse reform in the agrarian sector is being planned by different federal states in India to allow the indiscriminate expansion of TNCs in agribusiness in the country. FIAN India is also a part of the Global Campaign for agrarian reform as launched by FIAN International and La Via Campesina, where the main objective is to support the landless peasants' struggle for land to feed themselves in various part of the world.

To FIAN Agrarian Reform is a human rights obligation of the state. It provides people with access to productive resources, allowing them to have adequate access to food in dignity. Agrarian reform is a central element of every strategy to fight back poverty. Therefore Agrarian Reform will remain a central thematic area for FIAN India to facilitate realization of right to food and feed oneself in the country. 

Voluntary Guidelines on the Right to Food (VGRF)

FIAN has for years been lobbying intensively for the FAO to take up a rights based approach and to adopt a new international legal instrument fostering the implementation of the right to food. As a result, the World Food Summit : five years later took the decision to formulate a sat of voluntary guidelines that would serve as a human Right based framework for the specific programmes of the FAO aimed at reducing hunger and malnutrition. The voluntary guidelines on Right to Food (VGRF) is an important new instrument to combat hunger because it challenges one of the main causes of hunger, the lack of political will of states to take concrete measures for progressive realisation of right to food. A Civil society coalition driven by FIAN was instrumental in pressuring for the opening up of negotiations on the guidelines within the FAO structure.

FIAN India will strive for creating awareness on VGRF, through its usual sensitization programmes, lobbying and media advocacy. The other set of functions will include seminars and workshops with different stakeholders like legislatures, politicians, policy makers, NGOs, CSOs and judiciary for dissemination of information related to relevance of VGRF in India. Different chapters of FIAN India would publish documents and info sheets on VGRF in regional languages for effective awareness of the common masses and victims of violations. 

Country Report on Right to Food

The vision on the Country Report on Right to Food in India - an initiative of FIAN is a step towards increasing the accountability of the state for full realization of Human Right to Food and has been a prerogative of FIAN's course of action for the present and future.
The main objective of a country report is to contribute to main-streaming the right to food in India by:

  • Providing a clear illustration of Indian state's compliance with its human rights obligations.
  • Analyzing the government policies towards realization of right to food and feed oneself.
  • Documenting concrete cases of violations of right to food.
  • Increasing general awareness and education about right to food.
  • Developing network with like minded NGOs, movements, lawyers, state representatives and other concerned citizens.
  • Creating a platform for CSOs to raise voices and to influence policy/implementation decisions of the state for full realization of right to food and feed oneself.

The Country Report is an important reference document for India providing methodologies of analysis of human right to food, documenting current situation of the right to food in India, submitting reports to relevant UN human rights bodies leading to development of similar reports in other fields of ECOSOC and facilitate mainstreaming of right to food in Indian civil society and with the Indian authorities. 

Right to Work:

The Right to Work is an important Human Right which has been explained in Articles 23 and 24 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Articles 6 and 7 and 8 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Everyone has the right to work and free choice of employment in just and favorable conditions. Everyone has the right to be protected against unemployment and the right to equal pay for equal work without any discrimination, in particular women being guaranteed conditions of work not inferior to those enjoyed by men. The right to work emphasizes on the steps taken by a State Party for the achievement of the full realization of this right and includes technical and vocational guidance and training programmes, policies and techniques to achieve steady economic, social and cultural development and full and productive employment under conditions safeguarding fundamental political and economic freedoms to the individual. It also includes safe and healthy working conditions, rest, leisure and reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay, as well as remuneration for public holidays and the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

FIAN's involvement: Awareness, campaign for full implementation of the right without any discrimination against gender and race,

Sensitisation: Legislatures, politicians for ensuring implementation of provisions under right to work, demanding social security facilities for people working in the unorganized sector, protection against unemployment n the era of globalization, minimum wage to be ensured.
Right to Water:

Constitution of India as well as different International Human Rights Instruments recognise that access to adequate amounts of safe and clean water as a basic human right. The right to water is described in article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on an adequate standard of living. The right to water and national governments' obligations to respect, protect and fulfil this right is also inherent in Article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Furthermore, General Comment No. 15 adopted by the UN Committee on Economic and Cultural Rights in November 2002 gives a detailed interpretation of this right.

In India rapid industrialisation of agriculture has led to indiscriminate and unlimited access of agricultural-resources to TNCs for commercial production. The consumption of ground water for commercial agriculture has increased to a unsuitable and unsustainable limit/rates. Like land, in the agrarian sector of India, access to water is also highly skewed and water is unevenly distributed which adversely affects the subsistence production of marginalized peasants and share-croppers, exposing them and their families to starvation and chronic malnutrition. 

Water is also being increasingly privatised in India. The water resources which are so far being considered as common property of the people are now being sold off to private companies. Moreover, rural areas are often denied of fresh and safe water as water is being increasingly diverted to the urban areas, where high income allowed people to pay for water. 

The shortage of water has already led to decreased harvests and hunger for many local communities. There is therefore an urgent need to reject the models of large-scale commercial agriculture, which depletes ground water resources, and resist the invasion of agribusiness, which steal the water resources of the people for making profit. A people-centred sustainable model of agriculture should be adopted. Only this shift can ensure people's right to water. The free and adequate access of rural poor to water must be guaranteed. Any proposal or project (like River Linking project in India, proposing to change the courses of the rivers for better commercial use of water resources), undermining the rights of people to get access to water should be rejected. Instead small-scale land and water management technologies which fulfil the needs of poor rural women and men more efficiently and ensure their access to larger quantities of water should be adopted. 

FIAN has been working on cases of violations of the right to water for some time now. In January 2004, a FIAN fact-finding mission to India documented violations of the right to water as a consequence of mining, industrial activity, and water privatisation. FIAN intervention work and advocacy is continuing in order to strengthen common people's access to clean and safe water.