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Last Updated on February 2006





Dialogue on Political Parties

Lok Satta along with International IDEA and Lokniti, held a Dialogue on Political parties on the 2nd and 3rd December 2005 at ASCI Bella Vista, Hyderabad.

Day one was divided into a welcome session and a post lunch session. The welcome session began with the presentation of a country report jointly produced by Lokniti and International IDEA. The presentation provided an overview on the functioning of the political parties and sought to explain the mechanisms of origins of political parties, leadership selection, their support base, membership, candidate selection, women's representation and their sources of funding.

The post lunch tea session focused on the intricate relationship between money, muscle power and political parties. The session also discussed public disappointment with political parties, party leadership issues, lack of willingness among the parties to change and enable reforms, women's representation, and internal democracy.

The participants were later divided into three groups. Each group was assigned a topic to discuss and present the next day. Day two consisted of presentations on the three topics namely, Political Party Structures and Organizations, Elections and Candidates and Political and Electoral System.

The final session involved active deliberations over the two prevalent election systems - the First-Past-The-Post (FPTP) and the Proportional Representation (PR). While most participants were convinced that the current election system of FPTP needed to be changed, some academics had reservations. Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan then presented the model of Mixed PR, which would constitute the best elements of both systems. It is in the parties' interest to opt for an electoral system, which eliminates dependence on marginal vote in constituencies for victory. It is this desperation to garner the marginal vote, which compels parties to nominate those with unaccounted money, muscle power, and local political and caste links unrelated to public good.

The political participants present placed the ball in the civil society's court and affirmed their willingness to examine suggested changes once the specific reform goals had been finalized and agreed upon.

Click here to download the Summary of the Proceedings

Second Administrative Reforms Commission

The Second ARC spent three days in Hyderabad from 18-20 November interacting with officials at the NPA,Government as well the general public. Following is the summary of their interactions.

18th November 2005: Discussion on Collaboration on Reforms in relation to Rule of Law and Public Order , National Police Academy,Hyderabad.

The Second ARC headed by Chairman Shri. Veerappa Moily met with the Director, National Police Academy
(NNPA) and other NPA personnel. The discussions focused on the current methods of police training, possible areas of improvements, creating an approach to police reform as well as possible collaborations with NPA to finalise a list of police reforms based on a national consultation or workshop.

19th November 2005: Meeting with Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and Government officials

The meeting with the Government focused on pushing for effective and accountable local governments. While local governments in countries such as communist China,military controlled Pakistan, are suitably empowered and effective, the unsuitable notion of a vast nation like India being ruled by a few centres of power was discussed. Talks also focused on implementation of the Right to Information Act (2005), Citizen’s charter, as well as establishment of an independent ombudsman with the power to investigate,
impose penalties and remove both elected officials and other appointed members.

The meeting with the CM too focused on restructuring of village panchayats to make them viable units with economies of scale. One of the greatest challenges faced by the nation lies in restructuring in order to suit the requirements of growing urbanization, and to meet challenges infrastructure.

Currently there are 1.5 million habitats in rural India, each with an average population of about 500 people. These are organized into 600,000 revenue villages and around 250,000 panchayats. In Andhra Pradesh itself, there are 55,000 habitats, 29,000 revenue villages and 22,000 village panchayats. These 55,000 habitats are scattered far and wide, making it virtually impossible to provide meaningful public service infrastructure or urban amenities to the
people. Many major states of India have been addressing
this problem in recent years by clustering several villages
and constituting bigger village panchayats.

20th November 2005 : Public Hearing,Jubilee Hall

The Public Hearing received 63 specific suggestions/recommendations pertaining to the ARC’s subjects, 22
Broad recommendations/suggestions (but related to ARC's subjects), and 67 Unrelated/Extraneous/ Personal issues, etc.

The outcomes of the hearing were as follows:

  • There was a huge response from public-spirited citizens.
  • While a majority of people expressed only their angst and desire for change,a significant minority did come up with very concrete, insightful and practical suggestions for reform.
  • Because such a participative or deliberative culture is not fostered in our democracy,the discussions sometimes tended to be in-disciplined and even chaotic.
  • Also because people rarely have a chance to express themselves on issues of governance, there was a lot of unrest and anger about corruption, mis-governance and perceived injustices suffered at the hands of a callous administration.

Below is a sampling of suggestions received:

Administrative reforms:
Instant compound penalty to be levied on persons who are caught corrupt.

Police Reforms:

Greater financial autonomy for police stations,lesser emphasis on the police post hierarchy, minimum
qualification should be raised,local government can be handed to handed over civil law and order matters.

Specific Reforms for better administration:

Specialization for IAS at the state level, which can be introduced after 15 years of field experience,Rotation of officers from ‘focal ’ to ‘non-focal ’ posts once every three years, to reduce the scope of corruption.

Right to Information

Civil Societies' initative to spread Public Awareness

A comprehensive and universal Right to Information (RTI) Act was passed on June 15 and came into force starting October 12.

A. In light of this development, the following activities and initiatives were taken up by Lok Satta, Center for Good Governance (CGG), Andhra Pradesh Press Academy (APPA) and Andhra Pradesh Union of Working Journalists (APUWJ) in a collaborative effort:

1. 'Governance Information as a Right for Citizens'
State-level Workshop on Right to Information
Date: July 17, 2005
Venue: Jubilee Hall, Public Gardens, Hyderabad.

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This workshop was conducted with the aim of improving public awareness and evolve ways to enhance the capacity of public agencies to provide information under the new law. In addition to the four organizers (above), the government and public agencies were represented by the (then) Chief Secretary of AP, Special Chief Secretary (GoAP) while the representatives of the electronic and print media along with members of the civil society and other public-spirited individuals participated in the workshop.
The sessions in the workshop included: (i) presentations on the essential features of the new RTI law (ii) open and wide-ranging discussions on the optimal ways for various government agencies to document and provide information to the public (iii) the role of media and civil society organizations in creating public awareness about using RTI and (iv) future course of joint action towards effective implementation of the RTI law.

2. Printed publicity material produced, distributed and displayed across the state:

Over 25,000 posters, 50,000 stickers, 1,00,000 leaflets, 15,000 booklets, 400 'flex' banners for hoardings and 100 CDs were prepared and prominently displayed/shown across the state, with the aim of creating awareness among citizens for using RTI for their benefit. The AP State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) too had joined this effort and as a result, these colourful posters are being displayed in over 20,000 buses and bus stations, serving to take the message to millions of commuters.

3. District-wise Training Workshops:
Dates: October 15 - 23
Venues: Please see attached note

Workshops were conducted in 16 districts of AP in October where representatives of the civil society and media participated to gain improved understanding of the law and its provisions and also chalk out future course of action towards creating enabling environment for the successful utilization of this law. Government officials too participated in the proceedings.

4. 'Meet to evolve future course of action'
Workshop with NGOs
Date: September 24, 2005
Venue: AP Press Academy Office, Hyderabad.

This workshop was organized to create synergy between the efforts of various civil society organizations across the state.

B.In addition to the above, Lok Satta had prepared a series of creative public service message audiovisual capsules with the objective of creating public awareness on RTI. These messages were adopted by all the major cable television networks and were (and are still being!) telecast across the state, entirely free of cost.

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