Dec 8, 2011 marked the 10th anniversary of Janaagraha. Thousands of volunteers have marked this phenomenal 10-year journey with their time and dedication. Passionate professionals have chosen to join us at various legs of the journey bolstering our spirit. What started as a small movement to recharge local communities has truly gone on to grow in scale and impact.
In a 3-part series, we are publishing the story behind the birth of Janaagraha written by Ramesh Ramanathan, Co-founder of Janaagraha. First in the series is ‘How it all began’. As a part of the Janaagraha family, we find most of our answers in our organisation’s passionate beginnings detailed in these writings. It is a good read to stir up our collective passions and energies, to remain committed in improving quality of life in urban India.
In the recent past, India has seen an increase in sub-national movements for regional autonomy some of which have resulted in the creation of new states. It is therefore apposite to look more closely at the constitutional framework for federalism in India. Janaagraha Lunch and Learn, for the month of July, focused on ‘comparative federalism,’ presented to the team by Shreyas Jayasimha, a legal practitioner and expert in constitutional law. It would briefly outline the unique history of federalism in India as compared with the rest of South Asia, the constitutional mechanism for the creation of new states in India, and the provisions for dispute resolution amongst states with reference to prominent decisions of the Supreme Court. Sudeep S, our Advocacy Associate talks about what he learnt this lunch time.
Across the world, different countries have adopted different systems of Government. Some countries have adopted a centralised form of Governance where the Central Government is all powerful and the states or provinces draw their powers from the orders of the central Government. Others have adopted the federal form of Government wherein the constitution grants powers to the states or provinces and the centre cannot deprive the states provinces from these powers. What makes a country decide to adopt a particular system? At Shreyas’s Janaagraha Lunch n’ Learn for July, we focussed on how historical factors influenced our decision to go with our current constitution, especially the Government of India Act, 1935.
- Indian Federalism has been a topic of debate and discussion
At Janaagraha, we believe in the power of citizen participation. When we collectively take charge of our quality of life, we can make a real difference. Over the years, we have been able to consistently demonstrate this through our work with a range of citizen groups, community volunteers and engaged citizens in the city of Bangalore.
One of our recent successes in engaging with citizens is our B.E.S.T project. The Bangalore Electoral Systems Transformation project resulted out of an M.O.U that we signed with the Election Commission. We promised that we would get citizens involved in cleaning up the electoral rolls in one constituency of Bangalore – Shantinagar. Once this is done, the Election Commission agreed to replicate our model across Bangalore city, and consequently, in other cities as well.
- Anamika Ajay
Anamika Ajay, Research Associate, talks about her experience at a lunch and learn session presented by our Research Fellow, Chetan Singai.
Not always do we attend academic presentations that are informative, engaging and thought-provoking. Well, the talk on Human Development by Chetan did all of those for me. The ‘Lunch &Learn’ Sessions are conducted in Janaagraha every month, when the whole of Janaagraha lunch and discuss about topics ranging from culture to microfinance to development. This month, Chetan presented his experiences of attending a workshop on Human Development organised by Tata Institute of Social Sciences and UNDP in Mumbai.
Human development is one of the most talked about concepts in the development discourse and each one of us has understood it in our own different ways. This lunchtime, we discussed several thought-provoking questions on the concept of human development. We related it to contemporary issues of the urban, discussed the comprehensiveness of the Human Development Index and its effect on informing policies.
- An interactive and exciting discussion
But one question that got all of us thinking was the relationship between decentralisation and human development. Can decentralisation ensure human development? A question that everyone in the room probably had always taken for granted. Decentralisation has always been my answer to urban issues- but I never analysed the hows and whys of it from a human development perspective until Chetan’s presentation. His questions opened up to a very intellectually stimulating discussion: Some raised concerns on the definition of Human Development referred to by the UNDP; others questioned the effectiveness of the Human Development Index itself in understanding development. With the help of examples drawn from the Human Development Index and Decentralisation Index, we discussed the pros and cons of decentralisation. And though we did not reach a conclusion that afternoon on many of the questions, we definitely carried every word of the discussion back to our desks!
- Chetan, standing second from left, at TISS the conference venue
Click here to download the Presentation on Human Development
The Janaagraha Applied Research Program bridges theory with practice on issues of citizenship, governance and urban quality of life. Learn more here.
Janaagraha Lunch and Learns are conducted monthly on issues of interest to both the organisation and the staff. For the month of July, we will be learning about Constitutions across the world. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.