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February 2021

LOKAYAT - forum for new world!

In February, we celebrated love and solidarity by organising a program in Pune as a part of the One Billion Rising global campaign, and also organised vibrant protests in support of the national calls given by Sanyukta Kisan Morcha. Due to increasing number of cases, COVID related restrictions have been enforced again in Pune. Despite this, we organised quite a few activities, albeit in small groups (maintaining social distancing), on the issues of Petrol-Diesel-Gas price hikes, gender inequality and citizens’ rights to PDS grain. The following is a brief report of our activities for the month of February.

Programs organised in Support of Farmers' Movement

Lokayat is an active member of the Shetkari Bachao Sanyukta Kriti Samiti (SBKSS) Pune, a joint front of all non-BJP political parties and activist groups formed in Pune to extend support to the Sanyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), which is leading the nationwide farmers' agitation against the anti-farmer and pro-corporate farm laws enacted by the Modi Government. In response to the national calls given by the SKM, SBKSSS organised several programs in Pune, in which Lokayat activists actively participated.

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Our activists participated in the Rasta-Roko agitation, blocking the Pune-Solapur highway on 6th February. We also helped organise a small public meeting of ex-Mayors of Pune Municipal Corporation at the Mahatma Phule Statue in the PMC complex on 16th February to commemorate farmer leader Chhotu Ram ji. The SBKSS also held a public meeting in the old-city of Pune on 1st February, to create awareness about the adverse impact of the farm laws on the common people; the meeting drew a big crowd. We played an active role in this too.

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The SKM had given a call to celebrate Pagdi Sambhal Diwas  on 23rd February across the country. We conducted an online campaign to celebrate this, with our activists donning traditional turbans of Maharashtrian peasants.


As mentioned in our previous newsletters, our activists had visited the Delhi border during the previous months, to express our solidarity with the farmers sitting on Dharna there. This month, we conducted two Facebook live sessions narrating our experiences at the Delhi borders – focusing on the new unity and fraternity being forged by this movement. More than a 1,000 people watched these streamings.

Our activists conducted door-to-door campaigns throughout the month in vastis to explain to people how the farm laws are going to affect all of us, and why we all need to support the anti-farm law agitation. In keeping with the social distancing norms, our activists conducted this campaign with 2-3 activists in each team, going from house to house to talk to people. The campaigns were very good; most people we met did not know anything about the farm laws and they welcomed our efforts to spread awareness about the issue. We have also prepared a folk-play “bharud” on the issue which we will be performing in the coming days once the Covid wave subsides.

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We have also published a small 12-page booklet titled "Support the Struggle of the Farmers; It Is Our Struggle too" in Marathi and English, which we have priced at Rs 5. It is also available for free download on our website. The public demand for this booklet is immense – do contact Rishikesh (+91 94235 07864) if you want hard-copies sent by post.

Programs organised by Abhivyakti

14 February: One Billion Rising

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For the last several years, on the occasion of Valentine’s Day, we have been participating in the One Billion Rising campaign which is organised on this day across the world. This celebration is an act of resistance to gender violence, by re-claiming streets and public places through dance and art and in solidarity with victims of violence. Every year we co-organise a huge rally, but this year due to Covid restrictions, we got permission to organise a public program only. The program was held outside Sambhaji Garden. The program started by paying homage to the farmers martyred in the farmer agitation going on since November, and the soldiers killed in the Pulwama attack on 14th Feb 2019. It was a very colourful, joyous and rousing program, with flash mob dance, poetry recital, songs, and short speeches, all around the theme of equality. The program was co-organised by Abhivyakti with Anganwadi Karmachari Sabha  and the womens’ wings of the Congress, NCP, Shiv Sena and Shetkari Kamgar Paksha. Stri Sanghatna Audyogik Sahkari Mandal, Saheli (NGO), Dhammabhumi Sanvardhan Mahila Aghadi also extended their support.

25 February: #GaaliBand Campaign

Against patriarchal demeaning language

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All the expletives in our languages are abusive and demeaning to women. This is yet another example from everyday life of how deep rooted patriarchy is in our culture. Abhivyakti conducted a campaign at a busy junction frequented by the youth, wherein we pointed this out and made people conscious of the patriarchy behind abusive language. We encouraged them to upload a video on their social media pages pledging to stop using these expletives. In all our street campaigns we don’t just talk about the issues, but also appeal to people to join us as volunteers. This campaign has met with an encouraging response and will continue in the future.

Programs organised by Kafila

19 February: Programs Celebrating Shivajayanti and remembering Com. Pansare

Our cultural team performed a program of powada (ballads) and conducted a discussion on the true history of Shivaji Maharaj in the Kasewadi area. Copies of Com Pansare’s book on Shivaji were sold and tribute was paid to him to mark his death anniversary. The Shivajayanti celebration program was organised by Maharashtra Pratishthan. It was attended enthusiastically by more than a hundred young men and women.


Street campaigns against rising fuel prices

The Modi Governmnent is giving humongonous tax concessions and other subsidies to big corporations and the rich, and compensating for the loss in revenues by increasing indirect taxes that fall disproportionately on the poor. One the main ways in which it is doing this is by increasing excise duties on petrol and diesel - and that too in the form of surcharges which are not shared with the states. Because of these unjust tax increases, petrol-diesel prices are nearing the Rs. 100 mark. We conducted two street campaigns in small teams on 20th and 25th February – on a busy bridge as well as a busy junction. We distributed pamphlets and talked to passers-by, to make them aware of the real causes behind the recent rise in oil prices, which have affected overall inflation too. We also lent our support to a protest against price-rise organised near the collector office by the Chapparband community of Pune on 23rd February. The campaign is being well received; nearly everyone we met on the roads was critical of the Modi Government on this issue.

Programs organised in Pune Slums

Struggle for PDS grain

The government is moving quickly to destroy the ration system (PDS) under pressure from the WB-IMF and MNC lobby. Farm bills are one flank of the attack. Another flank of this multi-pronged attack is by denying PDS grain to an increasing number of the poor by excluding them from the ration system under various excuses. The latest assault is a Central government resolution (GR) stating that those households possessing a LPG cylinder connection or nuclear families with common address will not be eligible for PDS grain. We held a meeting with various other organizations working for PDS rights in Maharashtra and gave an application to the Food Distribution Officer regarding this.

In parallel, we also continued our follow up of the local administration for providing PDS grain and ration cards for Indiranagar and other slum residents.

Organizing People in Vastis for

Improved sanitation facilities

Our vasti team, including residents of Indiranagar and Wadarwadi have taken up the issue of poor public toilets and poor management of drainage systems in their slums. A series of lane meetings were conducted and a petition with hundreds of signature has been prepared. The matter will be taken up with local authorities soon. In these campaigns the focus is on motivating local residents to play an active role in organising and dealing with the authorities. Our aim is not just to solve the immediate problems but to develop the consciousness and initiative of the citizens; the people who build the city through their labour must also lead the fight for their rightful place in it.

Collaboration with Rickshaw Panchayat

Campaign to Strengthen Rickshaw Panchayat

For the last few months, our activists have been working with the Baba Adhav and Nitin Pawar led Rickshaw Panchayat. As part of our joint effort to strengthen the Rickshaw Panchayat, our activists have been conducting an extensive campaign of visiting rickshaw stands since December 2020, to  have a dialogue with the rickshaw drivers, understand their problems. The rickshaw drivers were surprised by the outreach program, as it was the first time they were interacting with young people from various walks of life who were interested in their issues. It is also a learning experience for our activists – who are getting to learn about the precarious existence of a class of labourers who are supposedly “better off” than other sections of daily wage workers.

Other programs

20 February: Condolence meeting for

Justice P. B. Sawant

Ex judge of the Supreme Court and a lifelong fighter for Constitutional values, Justice PB Sawant passed away this month. Along with other progressive organizations we co-organised the memorial service for him. It was held at Balgandharva auditorium. Baba Adhav, ex DGP SM Mushrif, Justice Kolse Patil and various other leaders spoke at the meeting. People came from throughout the city, and even from Mumbai and other nearby cities to pay their respects to the departed veteran.

Reading, Film Screening and Discussions

We observe one day a week as “reading day”. We gather in small groups at various places, spend the evening reading, and then within each group, all the members present a small summary  of what they have read, followed by a short discussion within the group. This month too, four such reading days were organised, in which activists read and discussed various books, and articles from Janata weekly. We also conducted two documentary screenings followed by a discussion for new activists – one was on slum demolitions in the name of development, and the other was on manual scavenging and the caste system.

Social Media Team Activities

Our social media team held marathon content making sessions on two evenings. Participants discussed important issues and made various social media posts, posters, video clips about them and circulated them on our social media. We are in need of more volunteers for our social media team. Those of you who are reading this mail and would like to generate progressive, democratic and rational-minded, factual content, may contact our social media team at: Shubham (+91 99673 75492).

New on YouTube

Song- Satya Sarvanche Aadi Ghar

Song- Amhi Prakashbije

One Billion Rising- Flash Mob Dance

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Neeraj Jain
Associate Editor, Janata
C-2, Mantri Estate, Salisbury Park, Pune - 37
Ph. Mobile 94222 20311, 91300 99965
Landline: 020-24265181


Lokayat is group of Social Activists based in Pune. We work on organizing people for various social, political, economic and environmental issues.

We meet every Sunday from 5 to 7:30 pm
"Lokayat Hall, Opposite Syndicate Bank, Law College Road, Near Nal Stop, Pune-4".
You are most welcome to join us in our meetings!

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