State-Citizen Interfaces

SAFAR builds platforms for dialogue between civil society organizations, government authorities, and IT service providers to move from opaque “Management Information Systems” towards open “Janta Information Systems.” These open systems give citizens a role in deciding what information should be collected and how it should be stored, disclosed, and used. 

Digital Dialogues, Rajasthan

SAFAR in collaboration with Soochna Evum Rozgar Adhikar Abhiyan (SR Abhiyan) facilitates a monthly dialogue with the Department of IT, Government of Rajasthan on how digital technology can be leveraged to enhance information disclosure and accountability. The dialogues draw in around 45 representatives from movements, unions and civil society organizations. These groups have decades of experience in empowering people to access their rights and entitlements such as employment under NREGA, PDS grain, loan waivers, compensation from mining leaseholders, education, healthcare etc. The dialogues between civil society representatives, line departments and the IT department focus on what information should be made public, and in what form. The objective is to make data available for citizens in digestible formats so they can use this information to claim their rights and monitor expenditure in their villages and wards. In these dialogues, digital applications are also co-designed to make them less bureaucracy-facing and more citizen-facing.

SAFAR and SR Abhiyan have jointly developed a primer on the Digital Dialogue process, the sustained campaign and advocacy that led civil society organizations to focus on issues of digital technology and its impact on transparency and accountability, building of Janta Information Systems, the key challenges and the ongoing agenda for action.

Strengthening Ward Committees, Karnataka

SAFAR works on advocating for the effective implementation of the Nagarapalika and Karnataka Municipal Corporations Acts, meant to decentralise power to Ward and Area Sabhas. We work with the Citizens’ Voluntary Initiative for the City of Bangalore (CIVIC) and civil society groups in the State to advocate for ‘Ward Disaster Management Cells’ (WDMCs), as mandated by the Ward Committee Rules of Karnataka and multiple judgements of the High Court. The advocacy is led by judicial interventions, forming model guidelines for implementation through consultations, filing RTIs to keep a track of developments around compliance and other such efforts. SAFAR believes that decentralized structures of governance are best placed to serve the interests of urban poor, particularly during times of disasters, natural calamities and pandemics. We are also involved in collective efforts to track the constitution of Ward Committees and Area Sabhas in different Municipalities across the State.

Facilitating BoCW workers, Maharashtra

SAFAR in collaboration with Center for Advocacy and Research (CFAR), Youth Development and Activities (CYDA), Door Step School, Nav Samaj Wadi Paryay, Bandhakam majur sabha is working towards facilitating registration of construction workers under the BoCW Act and access their entitlements under the law. One of the biggest roadblocks that workers face in claiming their rights under this progressive legislation is their inability to get certificates from their employers proving that they have worked for 90 days in the financial year, which is a prerequisite for their registration under the law. SAFAR is working with civil society groups and the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) to give the PMC and urban Municipal Corporations in other areas an institutionalized role in the certification and registration process under BoCW.

Letters written to the Deputy Chairman of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly and the Minister of Labour detailing our advocacy efforts can be accessed here.

Facilitating hawkers to register under PMSvanidhi Scheme, Meghalaya

SAFAR in collaboration with the Meghalaya and Greater Shillong Progressive Hawkers and Street Vendors Association is working with the Department of Urban Affairs and 17 different banks to facilitate members (i.e. hawkers) to register and avail benefits under the PM Svanidhi Scheme. 135 applications were submitted under this effort, out of which 50 have been sanctioned, 84 are still under process by banks and 1 has been rejected. This effort helps us understand the implementation details of PMSanidhi Scheme and enables us to conceptualize the nature of transparency and accountability provisions that ought to be a part of its design so that street vendors and their collectives can access their rights under the scheme and participate in decision making, grievance redress and monitoring of the scheme.

Credit: Digvijay Singh