Giving some power to the people

Social Activism

“The spirit of democracy cannot be imposed from without. It has to come from within.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Prabhat Garg founder member of a new online petition signing website demokranti.org explains why India needs an issue tracking system:

“India is so populated that highlighting issues of district level becomes very tough. An online petition-signing website lets everyone be a citizen journalist and tell the government, local bodies, NGOs and private bodies.”

Garg says that there are 300,000 people per legislator on an average, and very few of them are able enough to come forward with their problems.

Internet is the most used resource in the world today; people from all economic backgrounds are exposed to it and thus such sites can be used to report the minutest problems that often go unnoticed.

When asked what happens to these online petitions, Garg says, “We involve as many politicians and grassroots level workers with us. We ask them to join the website and receive these petitions.”

The petitions are directed towards email ids of government officials, NGO volunteers, lawyers, philanthropists and other private organisations that work in the field of development.

All the new information on the petition which includes the name of the district, the problems and the number of signatures from the petitioners collected, reaches the ids every few days.

“Demokranti tries to bring more and more such senior level officers to this cause. This is the main job of this website. To bring actual change we need to be associated with people who are involved with the infrastructure, law and order, education, health, environment and human rights.”

Demokranti is not the first of its kind in India and this approach has been successful in the West for quite some time now and Change.org has been an inspiration to many such Indian experiments on social media.

Sign up with a postal code using a social media account or create an account.

Create issues, vote on them, share them. See issues of interest in your neighbourhood, state or country.

Follow people raising issues relevant to you. Prioritised and aggregated issues would become available for the stakeholders in governance, legislators and bureaucrats; plus media etc.

Will this solve anything? “Yes, of course. This is the 21st century. In order to start solving any problem, one must first identify the problem,” says Garg, referring to his website.

Also, in India it is very difficult to be a host to people living in communities in small villages in the outskirts. Garg says that soon they will be organising some kind of technology for people without mobile phones and internet and maybe train them to use internet from the nearby cities to communicate their problems,” adds Garg.

Metrolife asked when this far-fetched idea would start showing results, Garg said, “This is a beginning for us. And these websites are also a way to have a database of issues. If one wants to contest development, they can easily refer to these sites as they will never close down, like files in the High Court and Supreme Court.”

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