“Now you don’t need to pay bribes in India. Use Right to Information. Often, it works faster than bribes.” Right to Information (RTI) is a fundamental right in the Indian Constitution that became operational as an Act on 13th October 2005. The aim of the Act is to empower people to access a wide range of information across most government departments. To make this Act a powerful tool for the people, a massive nationwide awareness-cum-assistance campaign called “Drive against Bribe through use of RTI” was held from 1st to 15th July 2006 in forty-eight cities of India. The campaign encouraged citizens to demand their legitimate rights from government departments, like getting a ration card, passport, widow’s pension, or provident fund, without paying a bribe or facing harassment. In Orissa, the campaign was held in Bhubaneswar. CYSD was part of a wider collective of NGOs and individuals, under the aegis of Orissa Soochna Adhikar Abhijan, which organised and ran the campaign. To create awareness on RTI, eighty street plays in different parts of the city were held. To assist in the effective use RTI, propaganda was organised in front of government offices. Electronic and print media were used extensively to propagate the use of RTI. Phone assistance on using RTI was given to large numbers of people and support was provided in person to the 602 cases registered in the camp venue. The highlight of the campaign was an awareness rally organized on 10th July 2006. 320 volunteers took part, along with the State Information Commission through the participation of its Chief Commissioner.
The nationwide people’s campaign on Survival and Dignity has been initiated to recognise the rights of forest dwelling communities and to stop the eviction of these people from forest land. In 2002, the Government of India classified the large population of tribal people living inside forest areas as ‘encroachers’ of forestland and the Supreme Court ordered their eviction. Hence, the campaign on Survival and Dignity started, in order to try to regularise land settlement in favour of the forest dwellers. The campaign has led to the formulation of the Scheduled Tribes (Recognition Of Forest Rights) Bill in 2005. The bill was referred to a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) for further consideration. The JPC’s recommendations emphasised the rights of people over the forestland. Following the recommendation, have intensified the campaign to ensure that the bill gets enacted. In Orissa, this campaign has attracted large media coverage and has also provided a common platform for people to stand up for the forest dwellers’ cause. CYSD has been extending its support and playing a modest role in the campaign’s initiatives.
A massive campaign against poverty has been initiated by civil societies worldwide to achieve the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Internationally, civil societies run this movement as the Global Call for Action against Poverty (GCAP). A similar process called Wada Na Todo has been launched in India. In India the campaign aims to make the government accountable for the promises it has made in the Constitution, Five-Year Plans, and Common Minimum Programmes and Millennium Development Goals (MDG) declaration. CYSD, as one of the core team members of this campaign, has provided support to facilitate this campaign at the national level. As in many other states, civil society organisations (CSOs) in Orissa, including CYSD, have taken the initiative to hold state level consultations for the campaign’s cause. Solidarity for the fight against poverty was expressed in the state through participation in the People’s Summit, organised in New Delhi and the launch of a white band initiative.
A group of NGOs and INGOs working in Orissa, initiated the Katha Rakhiba Sarkar (KRS) campaign, to create an enabling environment for the effective implementation of the commitments of the government towards the Millennium development goals (MDGs) in Orissa.
The campaign has been launched at the state level and currently covers 5 under-developed districts of Sundergarh, Kalahandi, Gajapati, Nayagarh and Keonjhar. This campaign focuses on issues including poverty alleviation, land rights, drinking water and sanitation and HIV / AIDS. The civil society organisations including CYSD have taken the initiative to enhance awareness on MDGs and developing IEC materials and disseminating information through the media on MDGs and commitments of the government towards the elimination of poverty and deprivation. In addition to this, the campaign has also formed district level networks and alliances to work towards the achievement of the programme
The campaign, known as “Daridrya O Kshudha Mukti Abhiyan” in Orissa, primarily focuses on the proper monitoring and implementation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), Rural Health Mission, and Education for All. In add ition to this, youth cadres in different districts have been built to carry forward the campaign’s initiatives.