Lok Manch, India

“Rights provide dignity to human life. The more rights the more life,”

says Yacub from Lok Manch, the people’s forum in India which Xavier Network supports. The priority of the programme is to improve the quality of life for people in some of the most marginalised communities, such as those classified as scheduled castes (Dalits) and scheduled tribes (Adivasis).  Community representatives are selected to take part in the mass awareness campaign which enables people to learn about their legal rights which in turn will facilitate with access to household and community entitlements, such as the government food ration schemes and pensions.

Twenty-nine-year-old Roopa Siddi has become a member of one of the self-help groups. After receiving the training, she was encouraged to help other families in her village to have access to a pension scheme and a solar water heater. She says that, “After becoming a committee member of Lok Manch, I feel empowered and encouraged to help others in my village and I enjoy developing my leadership skills too.”

Through this training programme Xavier Network are able to assist people, who have traditionally had less access to certain basic entitlements due to their caste, become aware of their rights and gain access to provisions including pensions, toilets and bank accounts.

In the UK it’s a very simple process to obtain a birth certificate. For scheduled castes and tribes in India having a birth certificate is not always as easy. Lok Manch are helping people in these communities to access their birth certificates which amongst other things will open more opportunities in employment and entry into higher education systems.

Francis Xavier was the first Jesuit to reach India nearly five hundred years ago. Since then the Jesuits have had a large presence across the subcontinent and this is where the inspiration for the Xavier Network name comes from.