“We, the People” is a network of individuals and organisations committed to responsible citizenship. Our vision for the next three years is, “to ignite a million sparks across the country by initiating exploration, understanding and action towards being an active and responsible citizen”.
We believe that substantial improvements in governance are achievable if a large number of citizens, in the first instance, own up to and work on their responsibilities. From our experience of working closely with citizens from various backgrounds, we understand that three factors come in the way of us taking ownership and responsibility – Information (what), Tools (how) and Beliefs (why).” We, the People” works with citizens directly and builds their capacity in these specific areas through various programmes.
The Citizenship Programme
This programme is a back to basics, essential training for all citizens. It brings together information on governance (constitutional rights, duties and structure of the State), tools for citizen action (complaints, the RTI Act) and an inquiry into our own beliefs. It is applied in the context of issues that citizens want to engage with and act upon.
For example, the group of women from Sheetla colony in Gurgaon, decided to work on improving public sanitation in their locality. Their first complaint to the Sanitary Inspector of the Municipal Corporation resulted in a cleanliness drive. But this enthusiasm was short-lived. There was no cleaning for a month after that. The women then again filed complaints with the Commissioner. This resulted in a major shake-up. A new team of sanitation workers was brought in. For the first time, a small truck started coming everyday to all the streets and collecting garbage. And since February, three months after the women began their initiative, the cleaning has been going on regularly – twice a week.
Another example is of a group of young citizens in Hyderabad. They worked on non-compliance of meter fares by auto rickshaws – an issue they grappled with on a daily basis. Through the programme, they acquired information on the laws that governed transport and traffic. They then got further information on the authorities that are responsible for of the enforcement of these laws, looked up rules, met officials, filed complaints and were able to ensure that fare cards are put up in every auto-rickshaw and a compliance drive was undertaken. They also ran an awareness campaign asking citizens to act responsibly and not pay more than the authorized fare charge.
The citizen cafes are short, facilitated conversations around the Preamble to the constitution and the role of citizens. They also serve as platforms for bringing together citizens on common issues.
Where we are
At this time, we work intensively in Mumbai, Nashik, Banglore and Gurgaon. Our Citizen Cafes are organised more widely through the country. Our partners include organisations like Magic Bus, CORO and Sneha in Mumbai and also schools like the Shri Ram and Literacy India school in Gurgaon. Through these organisations, we have reached this citizenship understanding and ownership to several hundreds of citizens. These citizens have been enabled to practice constitutional values in their lives and also bring about definite changes on roads, ration and slum rehabilitation.
Join our network of active, engaged and responsible citizens. Join our programmes. Join our group of anchors who volunteer to facilitate citizenship understanding amongst people.
Vinita Singh, Founder Trustee