A true democracy is one where citizens can participate directly in the process of decision making. While voting is the tried and tested way of doing this, for the process to be consultative, it should involve the direct participation and engagement of citizens. In India, citizen groups have emerged both organically and otherwise through which citizens conscientiously engage with the government and their own governance. However, they remain local, informal, fragmented and thus unsustainable as they are not linked to the formal process of decision making of any urban government.
To solve this problem Janaagraha proposed the concept of Area Sabha. This formal platform for participation at the neighbourhood level will be part of the government’s decision-making system.
- Ramesh Ramanathan
Ramesh Ramanathan, co-founder of Janaagraha, writes in response to the bomb blasts in Mumbai on July 13.
I am writing in to request you’ll to read this after stepping away from the breathless pace of your lives!
If terrorism becomes something we get ‘used’ to, like poverty, garbage dumps and traffic jams, it is not an indictment of our citizens – after all, this is a natural coping mechanism when constantly confronted by something over which we have little control.
A country of our size and complexity cannot be governed by government alone. Such a paradigm is weak not only because it is practically not possible, but also because it lets citizens off the hook, allowing us to demand a free-ride on a system that is somehow magically meant to be built and run on its own.
This isn’t some theoretical hand-wringing from armchair activists. As you know, we have spent 12 years now on working systematically at fixing urban participatory systems in India, and actually have made much quiet progress, but much more needs to be done. Continue reading