The Rights Based Approach (RBA) workshop held earlier in the year stirred the JESA - Darjeeling to venture into committing themselves to fight for the rights of plantation workers in North Bengal. The team has come up with concrete plan of translating and disseminating all the essential information needed by the poor, especially the tea workers of North Bengal, though an attempt of some sort of advocacy in Darjeeling was about 10 years ago.
The team said that most of the people in the area are unaware of the various entitlements like those under the Plantation Labour Act 1951 and so many other government schemes. In a brainstorming session during their recent province JESA commission meeting held on August 20 at Siliguri, the Darjeeling Jesuit Social Activists and two lay collaborators shared the importance of advocacy regarding access to information (human rights info) both in the hills and in the plains.
After some useful deliberation, it was decided to form a committee with Fr Shiju Mathew as in-charge and Frs John Kennedy, Pascal Xalxo and Alvin Minj as members so that they come up with concrete documents in the local languages. Fr Shiju is already working on this with the help of Sr Subeshna Thapa SJC and Darjeeling diocese. Fr Kennedy also has a group of lawyers working on the same through Hayden Hall, Darjeeling. It was decided to print pamphlets on human rights and entitlements in different local languages with the help of Hayden Hall and distribute it to all deserving people in hills and plains. Further action can be taken in coordination with the above committee.
The commission also noted the following other major issues in North Bengal: migration, trafficking, human rights, just wages, inadequate teaching in schools, corruption in purchase of school books, no medicine in government hospitals and implementation of Panchayati Raj. These will be attended to subsequently.
Earlier the members had a relook at the Vision-Mission statement of March 2011. After a very brief discussion, it was adopted for three years (till mid 2014). Frs Alvin and Shiju also shared their experience of RBA workshop held in May at ISI, Bangalore.
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