Marching for justice
You might wonder why any discerning 16-year-old would, in their right mind, walk 8.5 miles through the countryside on a Saturday afternoon wearing a green and white flag and a dodgy baseball cap.
There simply must be better things to do: watch TV, go into town, have some mates round – maybe even do that long-overdue essay. Okay, perhaps not the last one, but you get the picture. Traipsing around in green-and-white like a lost football fan (Celtic, anyone?) is not most teenagers’ idea of a good time.
Unlike me, many in India don’t have much land to walk on. It’s been taken. Taken from them by the authorities and dished out to mining corporations, nuclear power projects and other enterprises. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t be happy if I couldn’t go down the park because some big company started up a mine or a nuclear power plant. And it goes beyond that. In India, these people rely on their land to live. It’s their livelihoods at stake; dare I say their very existence?
We all have our little addictions, don’t we? I feel like I need the internet to live; they feel that they need their land. It’s as simple as that, surely? The truth is, they really can’t manage without (I’ll admit it; I probably could function without Facebook for a day. Just). For these people, no land means no food, no money and no house. I find that pretty hard to imagine. I suppose it’s like going to grab some lunch and finding the supermarkets, the cafés, everything – all closed. Permanently.
There is some good news though! People affected by these issues are starting to do something about it. Uniting under the banner of Christian Aid partner Ekta Parishad, they’re marching on Delhi, the Indian capital, to demand that the government respect their land rights. 100,000 people, this October, are marching for justice, demanding their right to live. What’s more: they’ve been asking us to show our support too; with “solidarity” marches here in the UK.
I feel inspired by these people’s bravery. Their sense of injustice has driven them to action; a sense of injustice I think I can identify with (tuition fees, youth club closures – you know the things I’m on about). Except this time the injustice is enormous. The implications of success are huge. I simply had to do something.
That’s why I took part in the Abingdon to Oxford solidarity march in October 2011. That’s why I agreed to the publication of some not especially fashionable photos (see the very trendy cap, above). That’s why I took the time to show my support for the poorest in India. And that’s why I’m doing it again, in October this year. If 100,000 people can dedicate a month (a month without work and without pay) trying to lift themselves out of truly desperate poverty, why can’t I spend an afternoon off the sofa to lend them a hand? It’s a no-brainer.