Bangalore, November 2006
Conference Report. People Centered Advocacy for Social Change
Speaker: Mr. Amitabh Behar
Chairperson: Mr. Sebastian
Mr. Sebastian introduced Mr. Amitabh Behar as Director of National Centre for Advocacy Studies (NCAS), an organization based at Pune and working for strengthening the capacity of social action groups to advocate issues of public concern.
Mr. Amitabh started the session by recollecting the campaign word which BJP used during the election in 2004 – India shining. Rights make a person citizen, he stated. 80 to 85 % of the people in India have been denied their rights and hence there is a wide gulf between citizens and people in India. This is the context BJP used this slogan in their election campaign.
The concept of People Centered Advocacy for social change should be discussed in the context of the wide gap between institutional and substantive democracy. Substantive democracy is the realization of human rights in its all dimension - political, economic, social and cultural rights. Participatory democracy is an essential factor in making social justice a reality.
The Historical context : The Gandhian movement and naxal movement contributed to the transformation of the society. Now the system has changed in this era of innovations, where people are consciously and systematically excluded from the development process.
The advocacy efforts is used in different circumstances in different ways by various social movements - in partnership with the government, in part partnership and part negotiation, part negotiation and part opposition, part partnership, part opposition or anti state. He described the various forms of advocacy practices which exist today through examples. We can not say that this method is good than the other; there are various ways to influence the government policies.
Advocacy is a systematic, planned political process (flexible) within a democratic framework for the advancement of human rights. In the whole processes people will be at the centre. Above all it is a process of empowerment.
When come to the concepts of People Centered Advocacy it has certain elements; research and knowledge base, networking and alliance building, mass mobilization and effective and strategic communications.
In this political process of fighting for the rights in the democratic set-up the state will be at the centre.
Mr. Amitabh concluded by saying that power lead to structural violence and participatory governance is the only way to solution. So advocacy can be seen as a way to use the space of democratic system by enhancing community organizations to look at issues of all kind which related to them.
NGOs and People’s organizations are complementary; NGOs are working as a facilitator in the process of advocacy. At the same time people’s organizations have the control over things in their area since it is related to them.
Tomy Jacob : Changes effective when it comes from within ; since it is coming from people the people centered advocacy is more powerful.
Baby Paul : Adding to the various existing model of advocacy Mr. Amitabh suggested he said there is another model of advocacy where government is partnering with NGOs in responding to the need of the children, the Childline Project.