Left C.E.O. Nisha Agrawal & Right Chairperson Mrinar Pimple of OXFAM India
Oxfam India calls for closing the gap between the two Indias

New strategy to focus on the lagging States and the lagging groups

Raipur , April 15. Deeply concerned over the widening divide between the two Indias - the developed and the underdeveloped - and the lack of an inclusive development path that India is currently on, Oxfam India has given the call for closing the gap between four groups of people -- women and men; Dalits and non Dalits; tribals and non-tribals; and Muslims and non-Muslims.

``Among all poverty indicators, it is the dalits, tribals and Muslims who are found to be worse off than the others. While there has been a growing assertion among the dalits led by its middle class intellectuals and politicians, a similar pattern is yet to emerge among the tribals and the Muslims,’’ says Nisha Agrawal, Chief Executive Officer, Oxfam India, adding : ``And despite positive changes in the policy environment and progressive legislation, Indian women continue to face discrimination on all fronts, including inside and outside their homes.

While India has already become the third largest economy (in terms of purchasing power parity) after USA and China and as per the World Bank and has seen consistent growth rates between 6-9% for the last five years, second only to China, even today, according to World Bank parameters of 1.25 $ a day, 456 million people or approximately 42% of the people in India are poor. It is also worth noting that every third poor in the world is an Indian; every third illiterate in the world is an Indian too and approximately half of its children are malnourished. India also ranks deplorably high in maternal deaths ( in many states higher than sub-Saharan Africa).

Oxfam India is now seeking to focus its programs in a few key thematic and geographic areas so as to maximize impact. It will focus its work in seven states that have above average poverty rates and have lagged in the post-liberalization period and would require strategic intervention: Assam, Bihar, Orissa, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. ``Since roughly two-thirds of poverty is concentrated in these states, Oxfam India will focus two thirds of its resources here and use one third of its resources to respond to specific issues in the rest of India. In view of the increasing number of urban pockets of acute poverty, it will also nclude an urban component in its programs and address urban-specific issues.’’ Nisha informed.

Oxfam India has also recognised certain cross-cutting perspectives to its work. ``Given India’s young population, we will try to engage with young people to develop active citizens amongst them,’’ informs Nisha. Oxfam India will also be focussing its efforts on building the capacity of its staff, partners and communities to understand as well as address discrimination by making people aware of their own perceptions, prejudices and facilitating an understanding of others. It would work towards building partners capacity to address communal conflict and foster peace.

The other key areas of work for the future would be to influence the role of private sector in poverty reduction and also explore key aspects of India’s growing role at the South Asia regional as well as international level from the perspective of influencing policies and programs for a poverty free region and world. It will also seek to build an active and international platform of civil society groups across northern and southern countries.

``Oxfam India is seeking to gradually transform itself from essentially being a grant administering and monitoring agency to an active member of Indian civil society and a rights based advocacy organization. Our advocacy will be based on the grassroots work we support. To understand better what is working well and what is not, we are committed to set some of the key processes in place, and work towards setting up community based monitoring systems to track and use the outcomes to enhance program quality and ensure rights based approach in programmatic interventions,’’ says Nisha

The new Oxfam India partnership policy envisages both funding and non-funding partnerships with a wide range of development actors—grassroots NGOs, academic institutions, research think tanks, national and global advocacy NGOs, etc. The proposed patterns of funding relationship include maintaining the diversity of partner size (micro, small, medium and large) but establishing limits for each category; establishing longer term relationships with partners and to fund each partner for a maximum 10-12 year cycle (through two strategy periods); and wherever feasible, provide core funding rather than project-by-project funding to partners.

At the moment, Oxfam India is upscaling its fundraising operations across various cities, to expand its supporter base and to build active citizenship by engaging the rich and middle class in India in addressing the many development challenges facing our country. Our experiments with running in-house fund-raising operations in Bangalore and New Delhi have paid off and we would be opening six new fundraising offices, on similar models in the next six months. These offices would be located at Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, besides multiple operations in the existing cities. ``In the next five years, we are also going to test various new techniques of fundraising, like internet and web, direct mailing, Trailwalker, special events, tele- facing and direct response television, which were not used by us till now.

Brand awareness and communicating with donors are provenly crucial for connecting with larger numbers of people. We would be dedicatedly working on these aspects in the years to come to make Oxfam India a household name,’’ informs Nisha

About Oxfam India

Oxfam India is a newly created Indian non-governmental organization integrating the 60-year-old India operations of 6 separate International Oxfam affiliates working in the country. It came into being on 1 September, 2008 with an Indian staff and an Indian board.

It is a member of Oxfam International, which is a global confederation of 14 Oxfams (Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hong Kong, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Netherlands, Quebec, Spain, and the US). Two new Oxfams are currently forming including India and Japan.

The Oxfams are rights-based organizations that fight poverty and injustice by linking grassroots programming (through partner NGOs) to local, national and global advocacy and policy-making. All of Oxfam’s work is framed by our commitment to five broad rights-based aims: the right to a sustainable livelihood, the right to basic social services, the right to life and security, the right to be heard and the right to equality: gender and diversity.

Oxfam India's vision is to create a more equal, just, and sustainable world. The overarching vision of Oxfam India is ``right to life with dignity for all‘‘. Oxfam India will fulfill its vision by empowering the poor and marginalized to demand their rights, engaging the non poor to become active and supportive citizens, advocating for an effective and accountable state and making markets work for poor and marginalized people.

About Oxfam India’s program approach

Oxfam India aims to be a role model in linking up four critical themes and areas of work – economic justice, essential services, gender justice, and humanitarian preparedness and response – into a comprehensive programme framework pursuing dignity of life as the overarching goal.

Economic Justice – More women and men will realize their right to secure and sustainable livelihoods.

Essential Services – People living in poverty, especially women and girls will realize their rights to accessible and affordable health, education and social protection.

Gender Justice –: Women from all communities will gain power over their lives and live free from violence.

Humanitarian Response and Disaster Risk Reduction: All women and men in humanitarian crises will be assured both the protection and the assistance they require, regardless of who or where they are or how they are affected, in a manner consistent with their human rights.

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