SAAPE made its maiden entry to the North Indian city of Chandigarh with the release of its Fifth Poverty Report on September 2, 2017. This report release programme was jointly organised by Institute for Development and Communication (IDC), Chandigarh and Dialogue Highway, Chandigarh in association with SAAPE.
Ms Reetu Kohli, Legal Luminary and Trustee, Dialogue Highway welcomed the participants and introduced the panellists as well. She stressed on the growing inequality in South Asia which is exacerbating poverty. Dr Netra Timsina, regional co-ordinator of SAAPE introduced the report and explained the process which led to this collective production. The report comes out of a bottom up approach as opposed to the existing bureaucratic data generation on poverty.
The report was launched by Dr Harish Khare, Editor-in-Chief, The Tribune, Chandigarh. He highlighted the political rhetoric, hype and the hypocrisy around poverty. Prof Pramod Kumar, Director, IDC in his presidential remarks lauded the uniqueness of the report that is created from below. In a scholarly exposition he remarked about how the states have been usurped by the market and people at the margins do not have a voice. He emphasised on the need for an integrated process of production and distribution for the eradication of poverty. Prof B S Ghuman, Vice-Chancellor of Panjabi University, Patiala in his closing remarks threw light on the inefficacy of the poverty alleviation programmes.
The event was attended by more than a hundred people from different walks of life of Chandigarh. Participants also came from other cities like Patiala, Sonipat, Delhi & Jaipur.
The event was followed a Dialogue on Governance for the Margins with reference to South Asia. Dr Shiv Vishwanathan, Professor of Sociology, Jindal Global Law School and Director, Centre of Study of Knowledge System, OP Jindal Global University presented the Guest Lecture on the Need for Diversity : Rethinking Democracy and Governance. He urged about the need for the acknowledgement and the inclusion of diversity and plurality. We need to radically change the constitution to bring in a number of other dimensions and redefine citizenship. His eloquent but powerful presentation challenged many of the notions that are commonplace and seem axiomatic.
Mr Devinder Sharma, writer and food policy analyst made a special lecture on the the Crisis of Governance in Agriculture : Pushing Peasantry to the Margins. Mr Sharma, a well known expert on agriculture and a vociferous critic of the government policies that has led agriculture to disaster He pointed out the lopsided development model that has contributed to the crisis in agriculture. Such policies have turned 400 million peasants into refugees while official sources and their cohorts in different institutions and agencies promote the false idea that we would not be able to graduate to a modern nation if we don't move people out of agriculture. He added that the false basis of economics has created a mess in agriculture. Since agriculture is the backbone of the society any crisis in this sector creates societal crisis.
Prof Ronki Ram, Department of Political Science, Panjab University, Chandigarh was a key discussant of both the lectures while Prof B S Ghuman chaired the session.
A vibrant discussion followed from the floor which included a number of issues of South Asia including Peoples SAARC.
The vote of thanks for the occasion was delivered by Sushovan Dhar, Core-committee member, SAAPE.
The report launching activity at Chandigarh was widely covered by the media including an interview of Dr Netra Timsina by the popular Punjabi television channel PTC. This programme was preceded by earlier launches in different parts of South Asia viz. Guwahati (India), Colombo (Sri Lanka), Dhaka (Bangladesh), Bangalore (India) & Kathmandu (Nepal). The next report launch programme would be held at Lahore (Pakistan) on September 20, 2017.