Home > Blog

'Low Hanging Fruit' is not enough, says GCAP's Task Force on Social Exclusion

Sona Devi has been to school. But she is an exception, one of the few 'matriculates' in her three million strong Musahar community. Sona Devi , who lives in a village in the Nawada district of Bihar, India, wanted to continue her education, but odds and barriers did not allow her to continue.

Acute malnutrition is common in Musahar communities and literacy rates are among the lowest in India (less than 10% for women, just 15% for men). The ground water in some villages is contaminated, crippling the inhabitants' bones. Mushahars are socially-excluded Dalits, who live primarily in the Indian states of Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh.

GCAP Global Council member Ashok Bharti
at the Leave No One Behind rally in Bihar, India

But Dalit Grameen Vikas Samiti (DGVS), a member of the National Confederation of Dalit Organisations (NACDOR), is working with Sona Devi and other members of her community to stand up for their rights and address the root causes of their impoverishment.

On Sunday 15 September, more than 10,000 people – chanting “Kisi Ko Peeche Mat Chodo” (Leave no one behind) -- joined DGVS and NACDOR at a teacher training ground to launch a month-long mobilisation campaign.

"'Leave No One Behind' is not a slogan for us, it is our need,” says Vinod Manjhi, a social worker from the Musahar community in Bihar, India.

“Socially excluded are extremely poor and vulnerable and cannot be reached by approaches designed for reaching out to low hanging fruits,” adds GCAP Global Council member Ashok Bharti, who is also the chairman of NACDOR and convenor of GCAP's Task Force on Social Exclusion.

At the rally, Bharti called on participants to stand up for their rights and to demand a new paradigm. He added that if governments only focus on 'low hanging fruit' then the Millennium Development Goals, Sustainable Development Goals or any other set of targets will have no meaning for the socially excluded Dalits, minorities and indigenous populations.

Bihar's Minister of SC & ST Welfare (Scheduled Caste & Schedule Tribe) Jitan Ram Manjhi and two members of the Legislative Assembly attended the mobilisation.

Bharti also meanwhile stressed the importance of participation – 'Nothing About Us, Without Us'.

“Reaching out to (impoverished communities) essentially requires their presence around the table where decisions are made. Any policy or framework evolved for them, without them, is bound to fail.”

The rally in Bihar is part of a global month of mobilisation, from 15 September – 20 October, organised by GCAP and its partners. NACDOR will organise similar Leave No One Behind rallies of Dalits, Minorities and Indigenous people in other parts of India, Nepal and Bangladesh.