Strengthening Local Democracy
Partner: Azim Premji Philanthropic Initiative Key Words: 73rd Amendment, Local Democracy, Last Mile Governance and E-Governance (Digital Literacy), Women’s leadership through SHG, livelihood Context: In the current information age, Internet, with its enabling, facilitating and wealth creating potential, it has become a powerful enabler to enhance the quality of life by brining equity in many spheres. The key barriers to digital inclusion are lack of affordable access , poor quality or absent last mile infrastructure, lack of digital literacy, and lack of awareness about the benefits of internet access. Many poor tribal of India are landless laborers and daily wage earners who end up taking time off from their daily work in order to visit taluka places to acquire certificates or schemes. The execution of 73rd Amendment demands participation of villagers in Gramsabha. This forum is a powerful platform for the villagers to bring their concerns to the attention of the Grampanchayat members for improved governance and also keeping checks and balances on the policies and expenditure of the Gramsabha. Our past experiences have informed us that women stay out of all these democratic processes due to lack of agency and knowledge. Concept: Improving Tribal lives in 18 villages (12 Grampanchayats - GP) in tribal district of Maharashtra called Palghar through model of E-Sevaks who would use advocacy and education as tools for capacity building of the villagers. They would provide various E-Governance services through 14 computer kiosks (Stationary & Mobile) set as E-Seva Kendra. This would lead to abolishing trips to Taluka for accessing various government services for the villagers and would save person days and money of the villagers. Strengthening local democracy through increased participation of villagers from 18 villages (12 grampanchayats) in their Gramsabhas that take place 4 times a year. Making villagers aware of their power and potential to change the dialogue in their favor by bringing issues of their concern to Gramsabha. This would be done by awareness campaigns conducted by E-Sevaks and E-Sevaks attending the Gramsabhas themselves. In addition 500 SHG women members of 18 villages would be trained in ICT, E-Governance and Governance and would be encouraged to organize women's meetings before Gramsabha. SHG women members would be expected to raise questions related to improving the efficiency of implementations and disbursement of funds for villages towards essential services like health sanitation and education. This would also help in creating ecosystem for gender equity. Rendering E-Governance to villagers from 200 villages that are outside the ambit of the project area by conducting E-Governance camps in each of these villages where the E-Sevaks who are the members of the newly formed cooperative would help people access services like Aadhar Card, Pan cards, Voter' registration etc. Thee villages belong to other blocks of Palghar. PUKAR, through its program “Information for All, E-Governance for All” conducted in 14 tribal villages, effectively showed how conducting digital literacy campaigns including financial inclusion, democratic participation and special schemes, helped rural poor and tribal saved time and money by avoiding trips to taluka places. This took place by villagers visiting kiosks set up by APPI-PUKAR partnership where villagers could access the internet and complete all the formalities on the internet accruing benefits like schemes, loans, scholarships, pensions etc. This particular project is now being scaled up to another 18 villages. Objective:
- Create a cadre of local youth who would be empowered with thorough knowledge of the governance system of their Grampanchayat, of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and other developmental paradigms, execution of various schemes like PESA, and electoral processes. This, hopefully would lead to more of the youth with proper knowledge and capabilities, participating in the local electoral processes and bringing their knowledge and skills to the Grampanchayat.
- Make every household from 18 villages aware of the functioning of the
- Create demands from the villagers for their rights, and for accountable and transparent governing systems, right kind of service deliveries on time.
- Create Women’s leadership by working with Self Help Groups of women in 60 villages in order to empower them to become active, and demanding citizens and participants in the function of their local Grampanchayat. This would lead to better service delivery and use of relevant rules, regulations and power levers within the Panchayat structure in a disbursement of local funds to critical areas.
- Creating livelihood options for the Local youth by acquiring licenses, Village Level Entrepreneurship.