26.06.2014

Musahar Participation in Indian Elections & Formation of Interstate Alliance


On 22nd June 2014 AWO International’s long term partner MSS Seva initiated an Interstate Alliance for the lobbying of Musahar rights in the Indian States of Bihar and Uttar Pradhesh. In the world’s biggest election 814,5 Million people voted. In advance MSS sensitized members of deprived Musahar communities how to make use of their voting right and motivated them to participate in the voting process without any fear.

 

A “Musahar Civil Society Alliance” was established in Patna, Bihar at the Sinha Institute of Social Sciences on 22nd June 2014. The umbrella alliance consists of various stakeholders (NGO, CBOs, media, activists, etc.) working with and for the development of Musahar Communities in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. This is the first initiative in the region to create a common platform for Musahar Development, where community members, political leaders & CSOs will come together regularly. 

 

The newly formed alliance aims to lobby and advocate with the Planning Commission and the Central government in context of the following issues related to the Musahar community: Recognition of the Musahar as "Scheduled Tribe”, promotion of land rights & food security, exploring and supporting alternative livelihood opportunities for the Musahar communities, promotion of better access to government schemes, etc. 

 

48 representatives from 21 districts of two States took place in the initial meeting where the future cooperation within the alliance such as sustainability issues were discussed. In the next meeting taking place on 20th July the strategies for the alliance will be formulated.

On 12th May the General Elections were held in Maharajgunj District of the Indian State of Bihar; in this district a cooperation project of MSS Seva and AWO International is implemented for the last five years showing already positive impacts on livelihood of the supported Musahar Communities.

 

In advance of the polls MSS organized a voter awareness day among Musahar communities in the project area that took place in coordination with the District Administration of Maharajganj, the district magistrate and the Superintendent of Police (SP) of the district. The Musahar were made aware about their rights as voters and encouraged to participate in the voting process without any fear. Musahar community and stakeholders took oath to vote and mobilized their peers to vote.

 

The Indian Elections in 2014 are considered as the biggest democratic elections on earth. 814,5 Million people voted. They were even more inclusive and “young” than the last elections in 2009. As per the Indian Election Commission 2,88% of the 18-19 years old voted (against 0,75% in the year 2009). The voter’s participation of more than 66% was the highest in Indian history.

 

AWO International is promoting the livelihood of the Musahar Community in 55 villages and supports MSS also in context of Humanitarian Aid.

Members of a Musahar community

Formation Meeting of the Interstate Alliance

District Magistrate addressing Musahar community