Oxfam India’s Campaigns will entail a Discrimination Free India

By auther pic. Abhisikta Dey

April 9, 2021

Oxfam India’s Campaigns will entail a Discrimination Free India

Oxfam India

Oxfam India has been working towards eradicating racial and social discrimination from the Indian society since its inception in 2008 as an independent entity while it was registered by the Government of India as a non-profit organization.


Mr Amitabh Behar, the Chief Executive Officer at Oxfam India is a global civil society leader who has been very involved with the United Nations in 2012-13 during the development of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at multiple levels across the world. The whole experience was very fascinating and he had been able to contribute in very specific ways, namely:

- With prior experience in working for the developing nations, he was able to contribute to the ideologies surrounding the marginalised Southern economies as most of the developmental work were aimed at the developed nations in the North. A strong Southern developmental perspective was articulated.

- Engagement with Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) over the past few years were a clear indication of its pitfalls and how the SDGs scored better than them, in addressing the key concerns of the society.

- His engagement with different Governments at different levels ensured that different classes of people were united under the same umbrella for a dignified life for all, thereby eradicating discrimination. 190 countries were blended together to work towards a larger goal of addressing the social and economic concerns along with the environmental concerns, in serving the masses.


A thorough and fascinating learning all the way.


Oxfam had started its operations in India in the early 50s as Oxfam Great Britain and since then has been working globally for humanitarian and developmental cause, thereby strengthening the people in crisis. A powerful journey in India to work with local communities and civil society groups, thereby ensuring the right to health, education, women empowerment and creating several livelihood opportunities in a very comprehensive manner.


Hence Oxfam India was created in 2008 as an Indian entity to be operated by the Indians to fulfill all the aspirations and needs of the local communities. It was a fundamental shift from being an international NGO to being a national NGO, working with Indian sensibilities. The major idea behind this was to take Oxfam India’s perspective to the global arena, wherein the remaining 79 countries get a deeper vision on the type of work Oxfam does in different countries.


Currently, Oxfam India has been doing commendable work in three broad categories, namely the humanitarian ground when floods or COVID-19 engulfed India. Second is the developmental sector which fosters the right to education, the forest rights, livelihood and women communities or the informal sector. Thirdly, the focus was to understand the narrative on the reasons for growing inequality and means to reduce discrimination.


The entire world has been very well integrated and each country’s modus operandi is a role model for the other. However, India’s endeavour into building women collective groups, self-help groups and livelihood ventures has been phenomenal. Citizens’ participation and rights framework like the right to education and health, is also worthy of accolades in India. Lots of global economies would like to imbibe Oxfam India’s dedication towards achieving these goals. One realization during this due course have been the victims themselves, who could forge ahead to be the true drivers of change. Oxfam India aims at ensuring their victory by strengthening and motivating them to bring about a developmental revolution.



However, every society is quite resistant to change and would definitely pose a hindrance to any social work that one is trying to accomplish. Firstly, Oxfam India also faced enormous challenges by the nature of its vision and mission as they were vying against the harsh realities of the world like poverty, injustice and inequality. These challenges are essentially posed by the powerful elites and monopolists, who are against social equality and justice.


Additionally, the other set of challenges faced by Oxfam India are more organizational in nature as it has to comply with the high-standard regulatory framework set by the Government. A more enabling framework of rules will lead to the better and easier implementation of the community work.


The third challenge faced by the organization was in raising funds for meting out social work to curb systemic injustice. Though the problems of hunger and ill health could be addressed with several food distribution programs and medical care, the resources to address the underlying fundamental cause of these issues were scanty. The major problem lies with the mind-set of the people while they intend to donate for social welfare. It is important to have the appropriate thought process and willingness to shape up a better and equitable world.



Despite all these challenges, Oxfam India forged ahead to provide immediate relief to the COVID victims in three phases. First phase started with providing immediate relief with hot-cooked meals from the first week of the lockdown. They distributed more than 60,000 meal packets. Then came the second phase where dry ration was distributed to almost 5 lakh people for a month. Eventually, PPE kits were also provided to 10,000 frontline health workers in small towns and cities.


In the last one year, Oxfam reached out to 50 lakh people in collaboration with the State Disaster Management authorities mainly in Uttar Pradesh, for creating awareness around the pandemic and its prevention. Measures to address the anxiety and misconceptions that were formulated surrounding the pandemic, were formulated and preached on the essential sanitization means.


Additionally, they were operating a Project Pathik, to provide some relief on the roads to the migrants who were headed to their native village on foot. Trucks with adequate food and water were stationed at regular intervals to provide some relief to these migrant labourers. Direct cash transfers were also done to 5,000 families upto INR 5,000 for each family, which is very significant for them. This immediate support ensured that the entire village economy started its business operations.


Oxfam India also delved deeper into other sectors like mental health and domestic violence, which were considered as an essential service, while the Government of India and the National Commission of Women started addressing them. Other issues dealing with a child’s mental health due to digital divide were also addressed. Collaborations with the Police Department, women help groups, one-stop crisis centres and shelter homes, enable the distressed to have respite from hunger while getting shelter and legal aid, even in normal times.



The mission and vision with which Oxfam worked was implemented via several campaigns, out of which one major one was the ‘Rights Over Profit Campaign’. One aspect of this campaign addressed two major issues of growing inequality in India and means to ensure good quality education and health from the Government, for the marginalised communities. Its very vital to understand the different mechanisms by which these services can be spread to the masses.


The second aspect of this campaign is to keep a check on the private provisioning that happens in this country around education and health and how to hold it accountable around the existing laws. Measures were formulated to put restrictions on the school fees and the medical treatment costs that were levied by the private industry players. These were attempts to ensure a regulated private sector to met out the most appropriate services to the concerned group. The campaigning is done by creating a public narrative, mobilising the public to work for right to education and health for all. Research also states that any country which is ‘Equal’ will have a sheer focus on quality education and health for all.


There are many other campaigns that come together under the ‘Discrimination Free India Campaign’ to eradicate the discrimination still faced by several classes, especially women.



The organization has been focussing on eradicating inequality though there is still a long road ahead to traverse to achieve their vision. The main sector in focus over the next two-three years would be the informal sector workers, who constitute about 90-92% of the entire workforce. The major focus would be to understand their core issues as they have been very invisible and provide them an equitable and just life.



Oxfam India would eventually be successful in building an equitable India, eradicating various means of discrimination.



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Abhisikta Dey Ghosh is a business research and content professional for the last 14 years with leading brands from the industry. Her interest lies in authoring and weaving stories to foray into people's mind and hearts, thereby creating an ever lasting impact. Brand creation and management have been her forte using few magical words supported by language. A Master's Degree in Finance and Marketing with a passion for literature and language has certainly given her a huge platform to merge her educational expertise with passion, par excellence. Currently Abhisikta works as a Senior Consultant for Strategic Content and Research with Corporates, Edu-tech firms, CSR Foundations, Travel companies and Fintech majors. Abhisikta has a keen interest in music, dance and going on family adventure trips.


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