The National Forum is Officially Recognized [2011年05月11日（Wed）]
The National Forum organized by Leprosy-freed individuals
The National Forum is Officially Recognized
The National Forum is a nation-wide organization of 700 colonies inhabited by leprosy affected people and their families.
With my strong conviction that it was important for leprosy affected people to take it on themselves as a united body, to fight for their own human rights and against injustice and untold sufferings from social discrimination, I called on Dr. P.K. Gopal, a social worker, himself cured of the disease, and other leaders of the community likewise affected by leprosy, to set up an organization. With the support of The Nippon Foundation and Sasakawa Memorial Health Foundation (established in 1974 to eliminate leprosy), the National Forum was established in 2005.
The background is clearly indicative of the organization’s principle that operations must be managed by leprosy affected people themselves to improve their livelihood, and win liberation from social stigma, economic and social rehabilitation.
For the last five years, “The National Forum” was involved in creating the nation-wide organization, and holding national and regional conventions to strengthen it, as well as conduct surveys regarding the livelihood of the members of the colonies. On February 21, 2011, it received an official recognition and a stamp of approval from the Government of India. The first commemorative Board Meeting that took place in New Delhi in the meeting room of Sasakawa India Leprosy Foundation (SILF) was attended by nine members, all of whom happy and proud leprosy free persons, from across the country. The board elected Dr. Gopal as the chairman and I accepted the honor of being its patron.
It was in 1945, that Mahatma Ghandi jee, the father of the nation, adopted a Manifesto (Constructive Programs), which in its 18th item stated that discrimination against people suffering from leprosy is one of the issues that independent India must tackle. Sixty years on, in 2005 India brilliantly achieved the elimination of leprosy as a public health program.
Battle for the elimination of stigma and discrimination has only just begun. At the end of last year, the United Nations General Assembly adopted, unanimously by 192 countries, a resolution approving principles and guidelines to end stigma and discrimination, thanks to the efforts of the Government of Japan.
The next step as I see it, is to establish an organization with 38 Indian members of parliament (invited to Japan by the Sasakawa Peace Foundation) and others to assist social rehabilitation of leprosy-affected persons. With this I believe all necessary components will be in place to improve the livelihood and eliminate social stigma and unreasonable discrimination surrounding leprosy affected people and their families in India, who account for 70 per cent of the world’s leprosy community.
1) The National Forum of India’s leprosy affected people.
2) Establishment by the United Nations of the guideline to eliminate discrimination towards leprosy affected people and their families.
3) Activities of Sasakawa India Leprosy Foundation (SILF).
4) Organization by Indian members of parliament a group to support leprosy affected people and their families.
Through the activities of these four organizations, I am dedicated to improving their livelihood and to fight against social discrimination. I cannot help but think that leprosy may have been the starting point of discrimination against fellow man. It may just be impossible in my lifetime to eliminate DNA-like discrimination from our minds.
I will dedicate the remaining years of my life to establishing a roadmap, convinced that one day—50 years or 100 years later--that the colonies of leprosy affected people and their families will be dissolved and that they will live in harmony with the rest of the society.