Meet Mohsin Khan, a young activist from Bhopal, India, who works for ILC member Ekta Parishad.
Mohsin is a Fellow of ILC’s Future Leaders Fellowship Programme 2021-22 and a Delegate for the Global Land Forum Youth 2022 (GLFY). ILC Fellows are expected to apply their leadership skills and knowledge gained through the Programme and contribute back to their communities.
Mohsin and 10 other Fellows from the ILC Asia membership have participated in a series of capacity-building workshops and they are now at the stage of implementing their action plans in their communities. He has decided to organise the Go Rurban Camp as part of his action plan, in the hopes that he will improve his knowledge of land issues, and understand the challenges and opportunities that young people face in Madhya Pradesh, his home state in India.
In the camp, young people from cities and villages come together to discuss, study the history and traditions of rural communities and the ways to preserve their rights, as well as motivate each other to develop rural communities. One of the Camp’s main activities is to organise Anant Mandi, a youth-led market space for organic farmers and local artisans based in Bhopal.
Mohsin shared with us his experience.
Tell us briefly about the Go Rurban Camp. What have you learned from being an ILC Youth Fellow that you are applying to this initiative?
In 2017, [Ekta Parishad] came up with the idea to create the Go Rurban Camp. This year around 30 young people from different states of India have joined a camp to know and understand the history and culture of Sahariya Adivasi (indigenous peoples).
Sahariya is an ethnic group in the state of Madhya Pradesh, India. They are classified as a particularly vulnerable tribal group. The history of the Sahariya tribe is spotty and in many places completely lost. The older generations of the Sahariya tribespeople fail to give an account of their history, and written records of ancestry are virtually nonexistent.
Therefore, during the eight days of the Go Rurban Camp, the youth will stay together with the tribe for a few days to see their life closely and also to know the stories, struggles and will document all their knowledge through drama, songs, music, painting, photographs, videos, and etc.
To coordinate this initiative and further develop it, very well-established leadership qualities are needed, which I acquired through the ILC youth fellowship programme. The programme showed me different aspects of leadership, as well as studying the practices of other youth initiatives in other countries, which allowed me to bring inspirational ideas to the project.
Youth can be drivers of change.
What challenges do young people face in defending land rights in your community?
Every year we are faced with the fact that young people in India are migrating from rural areas to cities. This happens more because living in cities motivates young people to achieve more benefits and socio-economic opportunities.
But often young people do not understand and do not know the values and benefits of living in the villages, which can often, on the contrary, give them more opportunities and comfortable life. For example, we ourselves clearly see the cases during the Anant Mandi initiative when young people change their professions in cities and engage in farming, they achieve significant progress in this area.
Ignorance of rural life’s values is also due to the lack of knowledge of history and cultural gaps, and lack of communication among rural and urban youth. All these problems are also complexly reflected in the fact that the unique traditional knowledge of rural communities and tribes, which are the custodians of the land in the rural areas, is being lost.
But even if there is motivation to live in villages, young people face a problem in accessing land due to the lack of material resources, despite that some still have the opportunity to inherit land from their ancestors. This could be addressed at the level of various policies, but there is no significant progress on this issue.
While there are no mechanisms at the level of policies and programmes to stimulate youth to live in villages and engage in sustainable agriculture, as well as programs to preserve knowledge among tribes and communities, we youth can be drivers of change.
Synergy and solidarity.
How will your participation in the GLFY contribute to the successful development of the initiative?
Synergy and solidarity are the engines of our initiative, which will allow us to unleash the possibilities for young girls and boys to live sustainably in rural areas and in harmony with traditions, history, and innovations.
Therefore, I expect that the Global Land Forum Youth will help me find synergy with other young leaders from other countries and strengthen the solidarity of our visions and steps to protect land rights, resources, and traditions.