As a follow up to the observations made by UN Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (UNCESCR) during its 40th session meeting from 28th April to 16th May, 2008, FIAN India organized a national consultation on 3rd September, 2008 at Delhi. The consultation was participated by Flavio Valente, Secretary General-FIAN International, Mr. Sanjay K. Rai, National Coordinator FIAN India, Ms. Sabine Pabst- FIAN international, T. Ravi Kumar-FIAN-Andhra Pradesh, Ms. Suman, FIAN-U.P, Mr. D. Gurusamy, FIAN- Tamil Nadu, Ms. Ujjaini Halim-West Bengal, Dr. Prakash Tyagi, FIAN Rajasthan, Mr. John Bosco, FIAN Karnataka, Mr. Monimoy Sinha from Jharkhand, Mr.Miloon Kothari and Shivani Chaudhary from IHC-HLRN, Adv. Anup Srivastav from HRLN ,Ms. Preeti Darooka from PWESCR and various activists from all over India. The deliberations of the day largely debated on the importance of right to food in India.
The first session was chaired by Ms. Suman. She introduced the background of the consultation. While giving the background, she said that it was the result of FIANís sustained approach and ground level interventions on bringing together concerned persons from all walks of life. She also mentioned that meeting FIAN held with important person like Ms. Maria Virginia Gomez, Member, UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The consultation was also contextualized with the work FIAN had taken up with the Members of Parliament in India and abroad. The Chair also gave a contextualized approach to the consultation vis-a-vis the coming together of civil society organizations. She also took the opportunity to share with the participants that most of the recommendation by made by FIANís Parallel Report 2008 to ICESCR had been accepted.
At the outset, Mr. Gurusamy extended the welcome note and raised several issues that constituted the core of the consultation meeting. The welcome note talked about the applicability of international law in the Indian context and the need for India to take all such commitments seriously. He also referred to the pro-active directions of the Supreme Court to the Government of India and the consequent failure to give a constitutional validity to rights such as right to food. While concluding the welcome note Mr. Gurusamy re-iterated the need for more follow up actions to get food rights implemented and create necessary redressal mechanisms.
Parallel report to ICESCR: a presentation by Sanjay K Rai
The welcome note was followed by a presentation on the idea and theme of the consultation with reference to the National Process of preparation of the parallel report, FIAN. This presentation was given by Sanjay K. Rai, National Coordinator FIAN. Stating the importance of this Parallel report, Mr. Rai, National Coordinator, FIAN-India said that it was one of the initiatives of FIAN to increase the accountability of the state for full realization of right to food. This was stated against the backdrop of existing facts in India. To quote Rai ď80% of the hungry people in the country reside in the rural areas and there is a large landless population with almost 65% of Indians living under Below Poverty Line.Ē This consultation meeting was organized in the light of the Parallel Report submitted by FIAN to ICESSR draws global attention to the issue of such an extreme destitution of people with sufferers being the women and children. The National coordinator of FIAN outlined the features of Parallel Report in the following lines with reference to ICESCRís article number 11 which implies three basic obligations towards right to food;