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Lok Satta (People Power), launched in 1997, is India's largest non-party movement for political and governance reforms. Over the last decade, Lok Satta has significantly influenced India's democratic evolution.
Lok Satta's main advocacy is political reforms: cleaning up the electoral process, decriminalizing politics and changing the nature of incentives in public office. Its innovative Election Watch programme has spread to many States in India, building pressure for reform. The following initiatives launched by Lok Satta resulted in nation-wide, tangible institutional mechanisms: Candidates for public office are now compelled to disclose their criminal and financial antecedents; the notoriously flawed voter lists across India are improving; an accessible, citizen-friendly voter-registration mechanism through local post offices is being institutionalised; in 2003, a far-reaching political funding reform, providing for disclosure, tax incentives, and free air time in Private and Public channels, was enacted.
Empowerment of local governments and stakeholders is a central goal. The movement made dry concepts into evocative and appealing ideas. In 2003, 10.6 million people signed in support of the cause, forcing a recalcitrant government and political parties to adopt empowerment as an important governance agenda item. Lok Satta and like-minded organizations from South India have catalyzed the non-partisan federation of elected women local representatives, as a first, key step towards greater assertion and improved performance of women politicians. As a result of Lok Satta's advocacy for major judicial reforms, a system of accessible local courts with simple procedures and time-bound verdicts will come into place in 2006.

Working with several other movements, Lok Satta played a vital role in enactment of the comprehensive and universal Right to Information Act, 2005. The first Citizen's Charters with penalties for non-performance were introduced in Andhra Pradesh, thanks to Lok Satta's initiatives. Lok Satta has collaborated with the Central Vigilance Commission and the Indian Finance Ministry to transform procedures in indirect tax administration. Until now, this area was a fertile source of extortion and a great obstacle to small and medium entrepreneurs.

Quality school education and accessible healthcare are also at the core of Lok Satta's reform agenda. Its advocacy resulted in the National Health Mission, whose objective is creating universal access to health care over the next decade. Its advocacy and grassroots work has made decentralized distribution management a part of the national debate for reforming the vexed power sector in India. Lok Satta's simple-but-creative 'people's inspection' effort also led to the elimination of short delivery of petrol pumps across Andhra Pradesh.

The specific and tangible achievements and impact of Lok Satta's work are manifold and varied. But perhaps it's most vital contribution lies within the creation of awareness amongst the population about the need for fundamental governance transformation, and the urgency of eliminating the demand for illegitimate funds. It has been broadly accepted that three kinds of reforms have to go hand in hand; political, governance and economic reforms. Lok Satta's work is a key element in creating a climate for political reform in a vibrant, but flawed democracy.

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