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National City Makers Caravan
Date: October 12, 2011

The National City Makers Caravan (NCMC) was a five-month long campaign for homeless citizens in urban India, organized by the Indo Global Social Service Society (IGSSS), with support from Caritas India and Oxfam India are in collaboration with leading urban rights groups and NGOs across the country. The Caravan, which started from Delhi on August 17, 2010, travelled across the country (22 states, 155 cities) over five months and culminated on January 12, 2011.


During the 24,419kms., of its journey, the caravan covered Haryana, Chandigarh, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh in the northern region, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra in the western & central region, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Andhra Pradesh in the southern region and Chhattisgarh, Orissa, West Bengal, Assam, Jharkhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Delhi in the eastern region.


Approximately, 39,860 people were addressed during the entire period; 176 public meetings were held, 41 memorandums were submitted to the administrators, 27 press conferences were held and 25 rallies were conducted.


Amongst the highpoints of the caravan was Rajasthan’s Chief Secretary’s interest on the issue of shelters and promise for follow up, Surat’s Municipal Commissioner’s support and sharing on the work in Surat, interaction with Government officials in Karnataka, the grand welcome of the Caravan in Madhya Pradesh, the successful sit in protest in Mumbai against the false affidavit filed by the State in response to the Supreme Court’s order regarding shelters, Garib Mahila Sangathan’s (a CBO) decision to advocate for and start a Balwadi centre ‘the City Makers’ Balwadi Centre’, and in Kerala, an address by the retired Supreme Court’s Judge, Justice V.R Krishna Iyer’s which reinforced that the laws of the country are for all citizens and it must be ensured that the state guarantees rights to all. In Kurnool, upon receiving the NCMC memorandum, the Deputy Commissioner, Mr. Ram Shankar Naik, acknowledged the work of NGOs emphasizing the need to work together to address homelessness & related issues. Also memorable have been the visits to the districts, towns, the night outreach activities and interaction of caravan team members with the youth in different places.


The caravan was supported in different states by local organizations and movements that were responsible for planning the activities in their respective states during the visit of the NCMC team. In the northern region, it was supported by Movement for Scavenger Community, Jeevan Gyan Welfare Society, Adarsh Mahila Mandal, Navjyoti Welfare Society, Baba Bhimrao Ambedkar Education and Development Society, and Valmiki Mahasabha and Himalaya Neeti Abhiyaan (HNA).


In the western & central region, two state networks-one in Gujarat and the second in Maharashtra – have been initiated to work on the rights of the homeless citizens. PUCL, Right to Food Campaign & Action Aid Rajasthan have been supportive of the initiative in Rajasthan. In Madhya Pradesh, it was received by Deen Bandhu Samaj Sahayog, an Indore based organization.


In the southern region, in Karnataka, the caravan was supported by Karnataka Civil Society Forum for the Poor Urban Homeless led by Mr. Venkatesh & Mr. Veeraya. In Tamil Nadu, CityMakers’ Committee Members (an amalgam of local organizations and movements that had come together to work on the issues of urban poverty/homelessness in Tamil Nadu) led the team’s activities.


In the eastern region, a focused sensitization programme was held in Bilaspur, with representatives of 20 organizations. In Orissa, the caravan was received by Purna bai who has been associated with people’s movements. This association enriched the knowledge of NCMC members on movements. In Patna, a major public meeting was organized which was attended by the acting MLAs, Mr. Nitin Naveen and Mr. Arun Kumar, and Ex – Union Minister, Mr. Sanjay Paswan who stood in solidarity with the caravan’s vision. In Uttar Pradesh, a meeting was held with the Rickshaw Pullers’ Union, which was a new experience for the team. The Uttarakhand stretch of journey was supported by Mr. Bhuwan Pathak. The state network is actively involved in campaigns for preserving natural resources. The journey ended successfully in Delhi where it was received by Mr. Bipin Rai (IGSSS) and team.


Apart from generating awareness about the rights and entitlements of the homeless, and collecting data about their conditions wherever possible, the caravan also tried to determine the progress made by state governments towards fulfilling the Supreme Court of India’s directive (January 27, 2010) to build one shelter per one lakh population.