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Background: Human Rights and Social Justice


India is emerging as a country with strong economy on globe but the fact is that it ranks lower in Human Development Index (HDI) and is divided on the lines of caste, class, religious nationalism and patriarchal ideologies. The divides are getting widened between rich and poor, upper and lower castes and among men and women on the counts of equality, i.e. power shared, participation in decision-making, violence free lives and life with dignity. In such situation, promoting and protecting Human Rights is a central concern. While promoting community centric Human Rights, Social Justice and Good Governance are the need of the hour; providing protection against any human rights violation to the victims is equally important.




Largely Dalit (erstwhile untouchables and still discriminated socially), Adivasis (tribals, indigenous people) and Socially and Economically Backward Classes and their Women and Children consist the marginalised sections of Indian society; protecting and promoting their Rights, Development and Empowerment can bring in equality, dignity and social justice. Dalits and Adivasis, both are generic terms incorporate different castes and tribes respectively.




The Organisation


Human Development and Research Centre (HDRC) is a registered non-government organisation working under the aegis of St. Xavier’s Non-Formal Education Society (SXNFES) since 1977.




Initially, HDRC worked with youth, their personality development, motivation and leadership through trainings disciplined with Behaviour Science. The organisation came into contact with rural communities and eventually started addressing issues like caste inequalities, atrocities, poverty, illiteracy, underdevelopment and less or no access to basic amenities. As the credo has been to reach out through non-formal education to the deprived ones, the principles of cooperation, networking and ‘knowledge based social action’ are the core of all activities.




Mobilisation, Organisation and Advocacy leading to Development & Empowerment




Historically, HDRC started working with Dalits and tribal youth and communities for leadership and livelihood options. The process of concentization, capacity building and creating productive assets led to social and economic empowerment. Gradually, the experiences of one area geographic and work related were extended to different parts of the state. Bringing social transformation through institution building, creating cadre of community leaders and running educational courses are the core identity of HDRC.






Institution Building


  • HDRC has created and promoted 7 people’s organisations, working for the rights of Dalits and Adivasis in northern and central Gujarat.
  • Medium Scale Finance Institutions, especially 10 Women’s Saving and Credit Cooperative Societies in northern and central Gujarat are created and sustained.
  • A federation of 10 cooperatives (2 Tree Grower, 2 Fisheries and 6 Agriculture) has been promoted.


Dalits: Ensuring Rights, Empowerment and Unity among them


Getting justice in case of atrocity, killing, discrimination, damage of property is ensured through legal actions and impressing judiciary. The rate of judicial action in such cases is not more than 5% in India; about 3,000 cases of these natures are dealt with through pressurizing the Executive, elected representatives and Judiciary.


Social Justice Committee at village, block and district level is mandatory to protect rights of the marginalised and ensuring social justice. More than 500 village panchayats have formed Social Justice Committee and are active and advocating for policy changes for greater financial allocation and autonomy for utilisation, amendments in the Act which are against the dignity of Dalits.


Dalits bury the dead and need separate graveyard; this is an issue of rights and dignity. Till now in north Gujarat, separate graveyard has been allotted to Dalits families in more than 80 villages in Gujarat state.


Having ownership of land ensures livelihood, food security, housing and social status. about 2,500 Dalit families have been benefited with housing plot free of cost; 35 Dalit families have possession over land allotted under Land Ceiling Act; in all 1,500 acres of cultivable land has been regularized in the name of Dalit cultivators and cooperatives.


Social discriminatory practices by upper castes are curbed with vigilant and aggressive protests, such as, temple entry, no different hair cut saloons, no separate well or hand pump for drinking water in the village and dividing Dalits on religious lines.




Adivasi: Ensuring Rights, Culture and Identity


  • About 12,000 Adivasi families are organized to put forward their claim for cultivating forest land and access to minor forest produce in north Gujarat under Forest Right (recognition) Act 2005.
  • More than 5,000 Adivasis have availed benefits of various government schemes and programmes for development totalling to about 50 millions. The rights of Adivasis to the access to forest and forest produce, preserving and promoting culture and identity are advocated.
  • Organizing Adivasis for demanding their rights through Panchyati Raj Extension to Scheduled Areas Act to ensure good governance and right to development.




Women’s Empowerment


The 10 Women Saving and Credit Cooperatives have membership of more than 13,000 women. The total collection of these cooperatives is about 15 millions and credit given is worth 10 millions. Eight of them are functioning independently.


Violence in women are addressed at grass-root level through counselling, police action, legal advise and legal action.


Addressing issues and concerns of single women are voiced, advocated and supported through availing benefits of the government schemes.




Children: Development and Rights


Fostering values of equality and justice from childhood among children of Dalits, Adivasis and Kolis and advocating Children’s Rights to survive, education, development and protection are ensured through Child Development Centres. These centers for children of 3 to 6 years age in 60 villages in 4 Talukas of 3 Districts of Gujarat. Till now 1,500 children have been benefited. In all 3000 children of age 7 to 14 years under Leadership and Skill Development are benefited in 180 villages.


More than 5,000 children are enrolled for primary education in last 5 years and more than 200 are protected against child labour and encouraged to join mainstream primary education.




Marginalised Groups in Earthquake Affected Areas: Ensuring Rights


  • A group of women were trained for traditional embroidery for ensuring livelihood and now they are self-employed.
  • A group of 400 differently challenged persons are organised and they have availed benefits of various government schemes and programmes; their rights are advocated and ensured through dialogue with the government and legal action.
  • Food security is ensured to more than 10,000 families through social audit of Fair Price Shops functioning under Public Distribution System in India.




Legal Literacy, Advise and Action for Ensuring Human Rights


Communal Killings in 2002 in Gujarat has been condemned all over the world. HDRC is now fighting cases of communal victims at Trial and Supreme Courts and also submitting legal documents to judicial authorities like Inquiry Commission and Special Investigation Team.




Research and Publications


The research is one of the core activities to give direction to development initiative. More than 35 research studies are conducted in last 20 years including baseline surveys on situation of Dalits, Adivasis and Children of the marginalised communities. Identity Formation and Communal Violence, Culture of Adivasis and Self-Rule; Problems of Unskilled Labourers working in Unorganised Sectors; Land Reforms etc are the major studies to mention.


In all 48 books / booklets are published by HDRC till 2008 on different topics like Education for Development, Rural Development & Social Change, Issues of women, Panchayati Raj and Governance related issues, and Shaping of Identity leading to Communal Violence and Informative booklets on Selected Laws.




Academic courses and Creating Professional Cadre for Development Sector


The post graduate academic courses have been run between 1986 and 2008 in the name of “Social Management” and “Development Management”. More than 1500 students have passed out of these courses and have launched themselves in development sector; over 70% of them belong to marginalized communities.


At present, 65 students are enrolled for “Masters in Social Work”, 15 for “Human Rights” and 15 for “Rural Development” courses.


More than 150 students from European countries were supported for their studies through HDRC’s enriching library and field visits in last 5 years.




We illustrate our critical understanding as:




Problems of Marginalized Communities


  • Social exclusion, Boycott
  • Discrimination and marginalisation in all walks of life
  • Underdevelopment – poverty, illiteracy, limited or no access to basic amenities
  • Atrocities, Killings
  • Loss of culture and identity
  • Increasing vulnerabilities




Strategic Planning and Interventions


Mobilize & Organize


Promote & Strengthen People’s Organization / Community Based organization


Conduct trainings


Leadership Development Programs




Advocacy - Social Audit, Lobbying and Networking, sharing leranings


Educational Programmes


Developing Livelihood Options



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