The organization was founded in the early 90’s after a series of consultations, discussion and debate with representatives of people’s organizations and movements, intellectuals and academicians, professionals, artists, activists and well-wishers who were unanimous of the view that there is a vital need for infrastructural support for campaigns and advocacy for struggle based movements in the country. Initially, the operation was very simple with one senior person to co-ordinate the work but with efficient support staff being part of the team. This was basically due to the reason that it had consciously not registered with the Home Ministry, GOI and all the support had to be generated within the country.
After the first seven years of existence a comprehensive evaluation was done and based on that Evaluation and recommendations, the organization was re-structured. Programmes were re organized, around several desks namely, Civil Society Desk, Research and Documentation and Dissemination desk, Refugee desk, Campaigns desk, Finance desk etc. It was at this time a decision was made to register itself with MHA for receiving funds from outside the country.
Following is a brief overview of activities:
Programmes initiated by the Managing Committee: These are programmes do not fall directly within the frame work of any of the other given of work of TOM but concern long-term and larger political processes. They are 1) Core support, 2) Media and Communication (MC), 3) Indigenous Fund-raising Programmes and 4) Gen. Sec. office and Extension work.
Campaigns, Advocacy and Lobbying: Campaigns, Advocacy and Lobbying work has always been part of TOM’s work from the very beginning. Most of this work was on demand from Struggle-based movements and initiatives in the country. TOM has effectively used its infrastructure in support of the campaigns of several important movements in the country. It has worked with middle-class support groups in Delhi, through whose good offices has lobbied with the Government and the Parliament, on several critical issues, confronting the movements.
Research, Documentation and Publications: Research, study, investigations, Documentations and Publications has been one of the important activities of TOM that aims at exposing the conditions of marginalized people and sensitive regions in the larger society in the country. It produces materials to support the on-going and new programmes in TOM. The results of the study and research has always formed the basis of organizing campaigns, advocacy through conferences, consultation, seminars, workshops towards generation of discussions and debates on important and critical issues.
Refugee Programme: TOM has been involved in the Refugee work especially among the Burmese Refugees after the student uprising in 1988 in Burma when hundreds students and protesters fled to India through the border and took shelter in the North East first and then moved to Delhi to get UNHCR recognition. The thrust of the work with Refugees is to provide them legal protection, relief and rehabilitation and liaise work with the UNHCR. This work was incidental while being involved in the North East. Over the years, Burmese refugee work also seemed to have become an important area of work for TOM. It has established a separate Desk and worked through an infrastructure that it has created in an area where majority of the Burmese refugees live.
Ever since the establishment of a separate office of the Refugee Desk amidst the Burmese people in West Delhi area, TOM has been able to make some effective interventions into the refugee situation in Delhi and Mizoram. The Desk further plans to build solidarity for the Burmese among the Indian Civil Society. Even while assisting the Burmese for protection, survival and development issues, training the young women and men among the community for leadership is an important activity. This programme focuses on building awareness among this constituency to assist in understanding the political situation in Burma, South Asia and South East Asia and the global context.
Corporate Accountability Desk and Community Environmental Monitoring: The desk is presently functioning from Chennai and Delhi. There are programmes to continue educating communities under actual or potential threat from toxic producing and polluting industries through concrete programmes such as workshops, training programmes, consultations and campaigns. The desk also proposes to take up research and study that have national and international implications.
Community Environmental monitoring programme (CEM): CEM is another activity which is based in Tamil Nadu focusing on communities which are being affected by toxic pollution where chemical industries are located.
Peace Building Work: There is a desk which exclusively works on promoting peace and building people to people relationship especially between India and Pakistan. The Other Media has been instrumental in initiating this process and sustaining it with active support of people. The work continues and is mostly self-sustaining! Similar work is being carried out in J&nK and in the North East especially on the Naga Peace process.
Work among Adivasi/ Indigenous peoples in the Sub-continent: Ever since the organization was founded work among indigenous peoples has been a priority. The thrust and essence of the work is to promote and build a forum for discussions and debate on substantive social and political issues that affect them. TOM has been instrumental in creating, “All India Coordinating Forum of Adivasi/Indigenous peoples” and with their collaboration has done extensive work among Adivasi/Indigenous peoples in India. Currently some substantive work is being done on, ‘Status of Adivasi/indigenous peoples in India’. About thirty reports would be published on land and mining in Adivasi/Indigenous Peoples regions.