Rejuvenating Democracy

Rejuvenating Democracy

Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Empowering children and young adults with an experience of participatory democracy to mould the ‘new citizens’ who can protect and nurture democracy.

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Plot your innovation within the mosaic of solutions
Which of these barriers is the primary focus of your work?

Which of the principles is the primary focus of your work?

If you believe some other barrier or principle should be included in the mosaic, please describe it and how it would affect the positioning of your initiative in the mosaic:

Children and youth do not experience democracy at home or school or the world around them and the role models they see are examples of power politics and corruption, where the norm is the survival of the fittest.

India’s children and youth need to be nurtured within the framework of constitutional obligations and other content essential to nurture national identity.

Describe your program or new idea in one sentence.

Empowering children and young adults with an experience of participatory democracy to mould the ‘new citizens’ who can protect and nurture democracy.

What makes your initiative uniquely positioned to create change in your community?

CWC is nationally and internationally recognised as a lead agency in the area of children’s rights with a special focus on children’s participation and governance. It works with the civil society, including children & youth to enable their participation. It has successfully created ‘Child Labour Free’ Panchayats and its Panchayat Toofan Model is considered a holistic response to child labour.

The democracy in our country should be infused with a new vitality. This entails the initiation and inclusion of children and youth in the democratic process, providing them with a ‘real life’ experience of ‘citizenship’ and ways mould and nurture democracy.

The survival of democracy in India depends on the success of the Panchayat Raj System. Its ultimate success is where all citizens exercise their right to determine their lives by contributing constructively to local governance to ensure that democracy is not overtaken by attempts to corporatise government and privatise basic services.

Describe how you organize and carry out your work?

CWC facilitates children and youth to organise themselves to gain strength, information and an identity. Structures that enable participation and link organisations of adolescents to local governments are created by CWC. The mandatory participation of democratically formed child and youth organisations has brought about de facto accountability of local governments.

The CWC has enabled the setting up of Children’s Panchayats (Makkala Panchayats) in 56 Panchayats of Karnataka that are parallel Panchayats formed by children and broadly modelled on Gram Panchayats. They enable children to solve their issues with a special focus on marginalised children. It helps children to take part in decision-making processes based on democratic principles at the local government. The organisation has also set up tripartite collaboration of all stakeholders – the Children’s Rights Task Forces that are headed by the GP President and constituted under the same principles as the statutory committees.

What is your plan to scale and expand your innovation into your community and beyond?

CWC will sustain and expand its concepts through
1. Empowerment of Children and Young People through capacity building.
2. Demonstrating the value of CYP participation through sharing information and data with GPs to input into 5year plans and other planning initiatives
3. Creating awareness and sensitising GPs and community through capacity building workshops.

CWC is also developing a sustained State Level advocacy for

1. Negotiation with all the Gram Panchayats we have a partnership with in 26 districts of Karnataka to set up structures and platforms for CYP participation.
2. Negotiation with the State Government of Karnataka to set up structures and platforms for CYP participation.
3. To demonstrate the effectiveness of CYP participation through use of case studies and process documents.

The process is being documented to ensure that underlying principles and the basic elements of our strategy may be used by others to develop local specific plans for child and youth empowerment.

What other resources, institutional, or policy needs would be necessary to help sustain and scale up your idea?

• Financial resources to expand the field programme to cover the entire district of Udupi
• Financial resources to produce and distribute handbooks, protocols, case studies and process documents
• Advocacy support to inform and influence the policy makers to provide governmental assistance to mainstream this programme through relevant orders, circulars, capacity building programmes and allocation of appropriate state budgets and setting up of relevant monitoring mechanisms.

Describe your impact in one sentence, commenting on both the individual and community levels.

Children’s participation has brought about a de facto accountability on the part of the administration and a transparency in their functioning.

What impact has your work achieved to date?

As the State Convenor the Grama Panchayat Campaign, CWC collaborates with Local Governments of 26 Districts. The information management, communication, advocacy and capacity building aspects of CWC’s work have global reach.

Number of individuals served

Individuals and community:
CWC’s field programmes are located in 5 districts of Karnataka, India. Its rural programme covers over 70 Panchayats, reaching 80,000 school going children, 3,500 working children, 800 youth members, 30,000 adults and 2500 members of migrant families.

Community impact

Children and youth have revitalised Community and inspired adults. The members of the youth group, Namma Sabha are part of the State Level Campaign convened by the CWC to protect and nurture decentralised governments.

Society at large

CWC’s work has led to a paradigm shift in how children are viewed. Grama Panchayats have gained huge insights from children’s views and developed Plans that are sensitive to their needs. Due to this many long standing issues are addressed democratically.

What measure do you use to gauge your impact and why?

The monitoring is done at two levels: (a) social monitoring by constituency and (b) monitoring by CWC.

All reviews are participatory and transparent with the aim of learning from mistakes and celebrating successes. CWC has regular programme reviews, a mid-year organisational review and an annual organisational evaluation which extends outwards – starting from ‘self-evaluations’, moving on to ‘individual’ evaluations and culminating with programme evaluations.

Codes of conduct and protocols are being developed to ensure the protection of children rights and to sustain organisational memory. They are also tools for monitoring and evaluation.

CWC has a Working Group that constitutes its senior managers, child, youth and adult representatives from constituency and staff representation. It evaluates the cumulative impact of the organisation. The process of planning is in-built into the review as lessons learnt and the emerging opportunities are identified and built into future strategies.

How is your initiative currently being financed and how would you finance further expansion and/or replication?

1. Empowerment: The capacity building of all the stakeholders with a special focus on CYP and generational support to the process.
2. Structures mainstreamed: The State’s existing buy-in will ensure that long-lasting links with them will form and structures mainstreamed.
3. Social Monitoring: Fundamental to sustainability and creativity.
4. Ownership: CYP and their communities are closely involved in designing, implementing, and evaluating the project.
5. Support of Regional Resource Centre: Providing appropriate capacity building.
6. Organisational Memory: Manuals and Handbooks on every step of the process.
7. Global Dissemination: Strategy and lessons learnt will be disseminated globally and links established with partners.

Provide information on your current finances and organization:

Annual budget: 2.50 crores
Annual revenue: 2.50 crores
Sources of Revenue:
Funding from Forut Norway: 30%
Indian American Foundation: 01%
Child Hope UK: 25%
Dhruva: 20 %
(CWC’s Training & Consultancy unit)
Rabo Bank foundation: 05%
Other Nationals: 15%

Number of staff:
Full time: 72
Part time: 15
Volunteers: 20

Who are your potential partners and allies?

-Bhima Sangha: Union of working children who have been deeply involved in the design of all programmes.
-School Children’s Sanghas:They are among the most active participants now lobbying for Children’s councils
-Migrant Children:They have been involved in developing plans for their group based on a needs assessment they have done and this has fed into the project design.
-Namma Sabha:The youth organisation intimately involved in the design of all CWC projects and programmes.
-Elected Representatives of Gram Panchayats: CWC has partnered with GPs since 1996.
-Makkala Mitras: Children’s Friends elected by Makkala Panchayats to protect and monitor implementation of Children’s Rights.
-Women’s Sanghas & other CBO
-Children’s Families & Communities

Who are your potential investors?

-Child Hope
-Government of Karnataka
-CR4WSF network
-Robo Bank Foundation

The Story
What is the origin of this innovation? Tell us your story.

In 1995 Bhima Sangha and The Concerned for Working Children, in collaboration with the Ministry of Rural Development and Decentralisation, initiated the formation of Makkala Panchayats (children’s councils) in five Gram Panchayats in Karnataka.

Bhima Sangha had a long history of negotiating with representatives of governments in order to improve the quality of their lives. But despite their interaction with local administrative and government bodies, Bhima Sangha felt that sustained results were lacking and that a permanent structure enabling close interaction between children and decision-making bodies was required to inform and influence local governance to ensure that children has space and opportunities to take part in decision making processes in their Panchayats. Children felt that not only organised ‘working children’, but all children needed such a platform. The Makkala Panchayats were set up not only for working children but also for school children and children with disabilities as well.

The Makkala Panchayats were created as parallel government bodies to the Gram Panchayats. These councils, first of their kind in India, show the potential of children to articulate their issues, substantiate their demands with data and elicit responses that were rooted in a children's rights framework. They show how children can think laterally and responsibly if their capacities are recognised and opportunities are provided to them. Now they exist in 56 Panchayats.

Please provide a personal bio. Note this may be used in Changemakers marketing material.

Damodhar Acharya, founder members of CWC& present Executive Director. His activism began in the trade union movement. He has more than 25 years of field experience in implementing programmes. Facilitated children’s Protagonism and Governance strengthening children’s agency. Member of the CHAKRA Network set up by Prof. Hiran Dias of the Asian Institute of Technology Bangkok. Key conveners of State level campaign to protect the rights of decentralized Governments in the State. Led the formation of the 1ST ever migrant workers union in the country. Global fellow of Ashoka.