The Political Science Association in collaboration with VAPP organized an interactive session with three members of JJSS on the 25th of September 2014. Jan Jagaran Shakti Sangathan (JJSS) (formerly Jan Jagaran Abhiyaan) is a registered trade union of unorganized sector workers. It is active in few districts of North Bihar. JJSS mobilizes rural poor to demand better services from the government and to get the existing entitlements as laid down by the government. JJSS aims to bring about a larger change in the lives of rural poor by means of “sangharsh” (struggle) and “nirman” (constructive activities). During the session, JJSS discussed its roots in students’ movements in Northern Bihar and how it has grown to become an all-encompassing movement over the years; focusing on justice and equality for the working classes. JJSS discussed about their efforts to ensure that caste and gender issues are incorporated within the worker’s movements. They have started a scholarship programme for girls wishing to pursue higher education, an inclusive ghumanta mazdoor mela, buniyadi nirman project and many other similar programs to ensure inclusive and sustainable growth. They made us realize how a seemingly insignificant change can snowball into something much bigger; they spoke of how a movement against wage reduction policies in one district of Bihar led to a larger political debate on adequate NREGA wages. JJSS also spoke about the need for protests to be dignified and non-violent. Protests should foster collaboration and understanding between different groups and should never harbor ill will. JJSS concluded its session (with around 45 students) with a question answer round followed by the singing of protest songs by one of their members along with some of our students.
– Neha Dewan.