New Delhi: Over 500,000 Indians have sent postcards to Prime Minister Narendra Modi under the the Action/2015 campaign of Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai, urging him to represent their voices at the UN General Assembly later this year ahead of sustainable development goals (SDGs) being adopted for the next 15 years.
Thousands of men, women, children and activists from India have also met political leaders and lawmakers to discuss issues like poverty and inequality.
Action/2015, a coalition of over 1,600 organizations in around 160 countries, is arguably one of the biggest campaigns in the world. Yousafzai announced the campaign whwen she accepted the Nobel Peace Prize, shared with child rights' activist Kailash Satyarthi, last December 2014. It was launched in India in January 2015 across 15 states.
"There have been over five lakh (500,000) postcards sent by people from marginalised communities directly to the Prime Minister's Office. These postcards appeal to him to think on issues of sanitation, health, education and repeal of the Armed Forces Special Protection Act (AFSPA) in the northeast," Pragya Vats, An action/2015 campaigner from NGO Save the Children, told IANS.
The campaign has been framed ahead of three crucial summits - UN Conference on Financing for Development in July, the UN General Assembly in September and Conference on Climate Change in December - which together will decide the formulation of global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These are 15-year commitments by world leaders to end manmade climate change, eradicate poverty and address inequality in the world.
"If we get this wrong, we could see the number of people living in poverty increase for the first time in our generation. But if we get it right - tackle poverty, inequality and climate change - we could eradicate extreme poverty within a generation," said Amitabh Behar, an Indian anti-poverty activist who has been playing a lead role in the campaign, told IANS.
The campaign has also received support from activists, Nobel laureates and other influential people from across the world like Bill Gates, Aamir Khan and Ted Turner - the chairman of United Nations Foundation - among others.
"This campaign helps in revising where we stand as a country in terms of poverty, inequality and other issues. It helps in making everyone a part of the campaign and make them aware of their rights," actor and activist Gul Panag told IANS.
Unless people are made aware of their rights, they cannot ask the governments to safeguard them, she added.
"We expect the government to acknowledge the voices of our country and act on the issues these postcards
have raised," Vats contended.
(Bhavana Akella can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)