Notes from the Right to Food Campaign 1

In this note I have tried to put together some lessons that I learned from the Right to Food Campaign. I have drawn these notes from the activities of the campaign, the discussions we have had, the materials we have prepared for the public interest litigation and for the campaign. The campaign deals with questions that are similar to what we are going to deal with in the seminar viz. ensuring a hunger free India.

I have drawn extensively on the materials we have prepared in the campaign, and specially on discussions with the ‘support group’. I would like to acknowledge up-front that this note involves a lot of piracy. I wold like to thank the ‘support group’, Dr N C Saxena and the numerous participants of the campaign whose ideas form the notes below.

The Right to Food Campaign in particular has been home to a spectacular variety of activities for the various reasons. One, hunger is a ‘bottom-line concern’ for people working in a variety of areas. Thus the campaign has got participants from large areas of work and regions. Two, hunger has an impact on most developmental issues e.g. education and health. Thus established campaigns on these issues have a stake in the issue of right to food. Third, a large variety of institutions have been utilised by participants of the Right to Food Campaign adding to the diversity in the activities. The following, for example, have been used frequently: mass mobilisation, advocacy, social audits, courts – ranging from the Supreme Court to the district courts, human rights commissions, a monitoring system based on a commissioner with oversight powers over all food and employment schemes, research, seminars, media advocacy and public hearings. A proper documentation of the campaign would have been invaluable. Unfortunately, such a systematic effort has not gone into it so far. In the limited time one has had for writing this paper, I have tried to make notes of some of the most important lessons on the way ahead to make a hunger free India. I hope it adds value to the deliberations.


I made friends with a boy of 15 from rural UP. He once asked me what I do. In the best of my Hindi I told him about the Right to Food Campaign. After listening for a while and signaled that he had understood what I do – ‘acha! roti banathe ho’ (oh! You make bread).

About Vivek Srinivasan

I work with the Program on Liberation Technology at Stanford University. Before this, I worked with the Right to Food Campaign and other rights based campaigns in India. To learn more, click here.

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One thought on “Notes from the Right to Food Campaign

  • Tanuj

    I started reading about right to food after the bill was passed, and got to know about the campaign that ran behind it for more than 10 years. I grew more interested in the campaign and activism that supported it, after I read a few snippets about it in a few articles, specially about the action day for mdm in 2002. I was searching about it, and landed up in this site. These notes give a great structure to the ideas behind the campaign.
    If there are any notes or articles or books that have a memoirs of being part of this campaign, or talk of the different activities that were carried out through out the campaign, then I would be really obliged if you can direct me to such resource.