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VOTEINDIA - National Campaign for Political Reforms (2004)

In the past few years, LOK SATTA actively worked to form alliances with like-minded civil society initiatives from across the country with the common goal of bringing about fundamental governance and electoral reforms. In furtherance of this objective, LOK SATTA is getting ready to launch a National Campaign for Political Reforms (NCPR) and the campaign has now a name- VOTEINDIA. The aim of NCPR is three-fold: a shift to proportional representation combined with features of the first-past-the-post system; direct election of the head of the government at the state level; and internal democracy in political parties, particularly in respect of leadership election and candidate choice.

While it should be easier to change the status quo by convincing the political elite, and though many of them are enlightened enough to see the necessity for change, they are caught up in such a vicious cycle and have lost all will and capacity to reform the system. The only way to counter this entrenched systemic inertia and resistance is through public pressure. The one voice that no party or politician can afford to ignore is that of public opinion. With the help of an innovative media campaign, we aim to persuade a cross-section of people ranging from youth, the apolitical, disenchanted middle class, opinion makers, ordinary citizens and politicians on the necessity to undertake fundamental political reforms. The campaign will aim to make people see that there is indeed a relationship between their life and the wider society, that a cleaner polity and a better quality of life begins with the everyday demands of ordinary citizens.

The campaign will be centred round 8 major cities and states - Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune and Ahmedabad. It will be in Hindi, English and regional languages, and spread over television and print media. Nodal groups will be identified in each of these major cities to guide the campaign and evolve and implement response-capture mechanisms.

Over the course of the next few months we will be having a series of meetings in major cities to persuade through presentation and discussion 'opinion-makers' and civil society initiatives to join our campaign. Those enthusiastic and with potential will be trained to take up the task of organization and co-ordination at the state level so that when the communication campaign is finally launched there is a 'response capturing mechanism' in place.

In short, the Campaign will aim to make people aware of the solutions to our political and governance crisis; give a clear rationale as to why we, the people, should care to change things ('what is there in it for me'); and mobilize public opinion through simple and tangible activities within easy reach of citizens. A website is getting ready. Repeated consultations are being held with partner organisations and concerned citizens all across the country. Nodal groups are being formed in Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai, Kolkatha, Pune, Ahmedabad and Delhi.


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