Nine Is Mine - Indian Edmund Rice Protest Cycle
The 300km cycle rally from Chandigarh to New Delhi was part of a wider ‘Nine is Mine’ campaign launched in India in 2006 petitioning the Indian government to commit 9% of its GDP to public expenditure on Health and Education.
As part of the campaign signatures of children across India are being collected for a petition and an education campaign undertaken to let every child in India know that they are entitled to a share in the nations wealth, and that Health and Education are the basic rights of every child, and every family.
The idea of the cycle rally originated with students from St Johns CBC and grew to include other children from the slums of Chandigarh and its suburbs so that the participants themselves represent the voice of other vulnerable children on the margins of Indian society.
Each stage of the eight-day rally involved addressing school assemblies, performances of street theatre, distributing T-shirts and the collection of signatures for the petition. In some towns rallies were organised as the cyclists wound through the busy streets, raising awareness among people about the promises made by their government and the need to have them fulfilled.
The cycle rally culminated in a 'Press conference' in Delhi at which stories of vulnerable children - child labourers, differently-abled children, girls, dalits (members of a low caste), adivasis (indigenous peoples) and slum dwellers – were presented. Children themselves expressed their issues of deprivation and neglect through mime, dance, drama and song. A popular Indian singer and ‘Bollywood’ actress also performed at the gathering.
Although the planned meeting with parliamentary representatives did not eventuate due to a political 'crisis' that arose, the rally was judged to be a great success. Extensive press coverage assisted in the raising ofawareness and generating wide public support.
The campaign is ongoing and another meeting will be sought with parliamentarians to enable delegations of children to present the results of the signature campaign.