When Anubhuti was founded in early 2016, we took some time to work on our organisation’s values. As the founder Deepa Pawar has always reiterated,
Values are fundamental to ensuring how a group functions. They are guiding principles to how we approach a problem, how we make decisions, how we engage with the people we work with, how we bring about change, how and who leads, and they especially guide in case of conflict or confusion within the group.
Our group’s values were thus decided: dignity, justice, equity, expression, accessibility and anti-discrimination. The last is an over-arching value which guides all our processes. These values are already existent in the Indian Constitution few of which have also been passed as laws in the workplace. At Anubhuti, we are committed to implementing these values and laws, and so we put down the same in form of the Anti-Discrimination Policy. This policy states that,
Anubhuti shall follow the principle of everyone’s right against discrimination based on caste, gender, sexuality, ability, religion, language, or any other identity in all its processes including programs, activities, division of roles & responsibilities, remuneration, promotions, etc.
Under this umbrella policy, the organisation also has policies on Anti-sexual harassment, Anti-corruption, Equal and appropriate wages and leaves, Health and security, Child protection and Environmental safety.
As an important step in ensuring the implementation of the same, we constituted the Anti Discrimination Committee of Anubhuti in February 2018. In accordance with our values, this committee by policy has representation of women, youth, trans* persons and men belonging to oppressed caste, minority ethnicity and religion, disabled identities and living in rural and urban deprived communities. 50% of the membership is reserved for women, and participants from our programs form majority of the Committee along with external members who are activists, elected councillors, etc. One to two members from Anubhuti make up the rest.
The first meeting was held on February 25th this year. Members – especially external members who have many years of experience in the field – gave the feedback that this was a highly needed step and probably the first and only such committee of its kind in India. They have themselves faced or seen discrimination in the social development sector and most shared that while there has been lot of talk about taking concrete steps against this, organisations usually fail to follow through with concrete action.
This entire process has been very positive till now. Recently, in June 2018, the first training was organised on the topics of Gender, Caste and Religious Discriminations in India from a legal and theoretical perspective. The eminent activist Dr. Irfan Engineer of CSSS, Mumbai and Mumbai based criminal lawyer Advocate Darshan Ingole were invited as resource persons – they too appreciated the commitment shown by a young organisation like ours in having an independant body monitor its every process.
Anubhuti is surely committed – we feel that if our vision is for a just, democratic and equitable society – we must first ensure the same in our own organisation. There will be mistakes and we are ready to learn from them – a written policy and independant committee will ensure this.