Ecological agriculture is not possible unless biodiversity is in the commons, and is free from the threat of extinction posed by technologies like genetic engineering. Hence, on 5th June 1999, on the World Environment Day, Navdanya launched Jaiv Panchayat - the Living Democracy Movement to fight against the biopiracy and IPR monopolies on life forms.
The “Jaiv Panchayat” is the Biodiversity Panchayat. It is living democracy – both in being the democracy of all life, and democracy in everyday life. It consists of the entire gram sabha (gram ke sab log) women, children and minority communities and not merely those who are on the electoral rolls of the village. This form of the Panchayat renders the community the decision-maker on all matters pertaining to biodiversity and its conservation. In doing so, the Jaiv Panchayat lays down the parameters within which the elected Panchayat body can take action vis-à-vis biodiversity.
You too can help bring to life a Jaiv Panchayat and make real the idea of a living democracy - a democracy for life in all its diversity.Things you can do
- Organise all the people of your village into a Jaiv Panchayat and help the people understand that their Jaiv Panchayat will be a decision making body on all matters pertaining to the conservation, management, and protection of all biological resources of that area.
- Organise meetings / awareness campaigns with the Jaiv Panchayat, and discuss the diverse kinds of biological wealth available and used in your area
- Make a formal declaration that all the biological resources belong only to the community.
- Prepare a community biodiversity register (CBR) to prevent erosion of biological resources and knowledge.
- A few active members (Jaiv Rakshaks) from amongst the Gram Sabha can take the responsibility of maintaining and updating the register periodically.
The first Jaiv Panchayat was brought to life by a gathering of about 1000 villagers of Agastyamuni village in district Rudraprayag, Garhwal, Uttaranchal on 5th June, 1999 - the World Environment Day. The Jaiv Panchayat campaign launched by Navdanya is a part of the much broader movement called Bija Satyagraha. As a part of the movement over 4000 village communities have affirmed their rights to their biodiversity and have taken a pledge to conserve, rejuvenate and protect their biodiversity. There are more than 85 Jaiv Panchayats in Garhwal alone, where people have asserted their inalienable and common rights to their natural resources. In many of the Jaiv Panchayats, the elected leaders are also the leaders of the Movement. Many of them have declared their villages GM-free zones as well.