Mr Harsh Mander talks about the challenges to Secular Democracy in India.
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Mr Mander, 53, is a social worker and writer. He has worked formerly in the Indian Administrative Service in the predominantly tribal states Madhya Pradesh and Chhatisgarh for almost two decades, mainly as the head of district governments of tribal districts.
He is associated with social causes and movements, such for communal harmony, tribal, dalit, and disability rights, the right to information, custodial justice, homeless people and bonded labour.
He writes and speaks regularly on issues of social justice. His books include ‘Unheard Voices: Stories of Forgotten Lives’ published by Penguin India. Other major books include ‘Cry, My Beloved Country: Reflections on the Gujarat Carnage 2002 and its Aftermath’ And ‘The Ripped Chest: Public Policy and Poor in India’.
He was awarded the Rajiv Gandhi National Sadbhavana Award for peace work, and the M.A. Thomas National Human Rights Award 2002.
He is at present convenor of Aman Biradari, a people’s campaign for secularism, peace and justice, working for Nyayagrah, for legal justice and reconciliation for the survivors of the Gujarat 2002 carnage, and Dil Se, for the rights of homeless children, youth and women. He is Special Commissioner appointed by the Supreme Court of India to advise it in the Right to Food case on hunger and state responsibility, Honorary Director of the Centre for Equity Studies (working on public policy for the poor), Visiting Professor at IIM, Ahmedabad on poverty and governance and writes a column for the Hindu.