PRS seeks inputs on increasing outreach

We need your ideas and inputs.  Ideas on how we can inform many more people who are interested in policy about what they can access on the PRS website. The mission of PRS is to strengthen the legislative process by making it better informed, more transparent and participatory. The statement has three important components: (a) Better informed: This implies that legislators and citizens need to be better informed about the implications of legislation.  For us in PRS, this implies producing easy-to-understand non-partisan analysis that can be made available to MPs and citizens.  This also includes our continual efforts to personally brief MPs and political parties on the details and implications of each Bill. (b) Transparent: We mean that all proceedings of Parliament and the work of MPs in Parliament should be easily accessible to citizens.  In an operational sense, this includes the effort we put into creating the Bill Track section on our website where every Bill that is pending in Parliament can be accessed, and the current status of the Bill can be tracked.  It also includes the MP Track section in which we have up-to-date information about the engagement levels of MPs in Parliament.  We also have a twitter page www.twitter.com/prslegislative and a Facebook presence. (c) Participatory: Which simply means that once citizens know the information, and would like to articulate a point of view, they should reach out to policy makers and get their point of view across to them.  To promote this, we have had a number of workshops with NGOs and have produced a primer on "Engaging with Policy Makers". These are just some examples of what we are doing in each of these three areas.  Our website has much more information. But we are increasingly of the view that we need to reach out many more people who are interested in policy -- even if it is sector specific.  We would be grateful for any ideas that you might have, which you can post as responses to this post. If you also have specific ideas on what you like on our website and what can be better, do let us know.  Thanks, in advance.

Comments

Sauman Das Gupta's picture

A few Suggestions:To get better participation Better informed: Can we get this drive across the country in all regional languages.And a feed back stream from the grass root.This alone can be a very important excercise to forward the basic need of mass education and awareness.The use of "out of the box ideas" ,technology and tools.The whole driving idea behind it ,is to keep it simple and and meaningful. Grid knowledge dissemination and feedback centre in every panchayat block should not be difficult to set up.The simple front end tools both as hardware and software available can deliver such centres pretty cheap (money-wise). Project execution and training also can be done thru SHG extensions,NPO/NGO/GOI/PPP. Transparent: The whole scripting can be devised under gender grouping.To ensure "no one is left out". Transparency being the whole basis of the system design. With filters to check and authenticate.Both virtually and at ground zero. Participatory: Linking to the grid can be made participatory only when the people who drive it realise that the prime focus is them.This calls for simple yet bold initiatives which layout the implications in understandable terms to the general people at large. Devising a system that seeks to identify and isolate knowledge for greater participation to ensure clean governance is indeed our immediate mandate. Regards Sauman Das Gupta
Tarun Kumar's picture

Dear Madhukar, At the outset let me congratulate the entire team of PRS for the excellent work that you have been doing. Till I saw your interview on a television channel I was not aware there exists a firm of individuals such as PRS engaged in legislative research. I believe the electronic medium is one of the best means of reaching out to a large number of people interested in policy making. Perhaps a regular show on one of the news channel highlighting the developments of the week could be a great start. The youth of today are ready to engage themselves in the change that they would want to see in the system. Therefore frequent interactions with students from prominent schools and colleges is a good idea. This will no doubt reap dividends in the long run. Another of the ways PRS can increase it's 'subscriber' base by identifying and creating focus groups comprising individuals and institutions who/which are experts in their respective fields and have a large following. These focus groups can be consulted regularly to get specific inputs on various legislations. Eg.. The BRAI legislation proposed by the govt of India can be discussed in a focus group comprising prominent professors and lecturers of biotechnology. These discussions can be had in the presence of farmers, seed company representatives, students and all stake holders of biotech. This way we can get a complete picture on the legislation. Another means of increasing people participation in policy making is creating awareness in the minds of people about the benefits they can get from the RTI act. This piece of legislation is a landmark one but hasn't been used extensively by the ordinary Indian except for social activists and NGO's.. this sense of empowerment can motivate the citizens to believe that after all change is possible and is not as elusive as it seems. Lastly, I must conclude by saying that the team at PRS is doing an excellent job and would like too see it's presence in other regions of the country as well. Currently it seems you are catering to the capital only. Also, a separate section on RTI will be very useful to the users. Regards, Tarun
Siddarth's picture

I would say there is a need for inculcating civic sense and a love for politics at a young age. I would advise you to create a buzz by visiting colleges and schools. Civics , political science is still such a dry subject in edu. institutions,so there is a need to 'sex it up'. Especially, since this section is most apathetic to whats going on, you will be creating a demand for your services as well as giving democracy a much needed boost. Regards, Siddarth
Vishwas S's picture

Guys, this is a fantastic effort. I accidentally stumbled on PRS website while searching for details on the Right to Education bill. So you already are on the right track and google will pick up useful material and make it visible to interested people. This is a great way of evolving India from identity based to issue based politics. My suggestions: - More local coverage: eg. Bangalore just had mayoral elections. I want to know what these corporators stood for, what the popular issues were, what they promised and what they eventually achieved. - Feedback mechanisms: For any system to work we need a functional feedback and tracking mechanism. Please think about ways of getting feedback from the ground and provide a channel to this site as well as to different government bodies. - A mechanism for documenting the achievements of different legislators and public officials: Eg. the RTE act, should have the connected people and stake holders with it - Kapil Sibal. And that persons profile should link to other things he is involved in - HRD ministry, Foreign universities Act, etc. Also before each election cycle a candidate's issues should be documented and tracked, so that he can take credit for any achievements in promised areas and be held responsible for not acting on other promises. - Using mobile technology to expand reach: Perhaps there is a way of addressing and involving an audience larger than the tech crowd by integrating with a mobile phone platform - perhaps SMS to begin with. - Improve Law Education: Perhaps you can establish internship programs for law (and other university students) to work with you on PRS projects. Regards, -Vishwas
Apoorv Shah's picture

Hey I am a law student and I can asure you that PRS website is an awesome site for getting basic information about all current legislative developments. A lot of my friends use the website but I don't think that a lot of people know about it. I think that apart from Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha you guys should also target Vidhan Sabha's of various states. I am working with a 'think-tank' right now who is doing the same thing. I think that if you provide both center and state data then more number of people will be interested. I guess people who are pursuing C.A. course or C.S. course can also benefit from such a website apart from the usual law student. Actually it is relevant to all the individuals who have even the slightest interest in what is going on in the country. There is huge scope for expanding the user base. I guess you people now have my id so you can contact me if and when you need any ideas. I think I can present them in a better form in person rather than through mail. Congratulations and all the best to the entire PRS team. I hope you guys continue such work. Cheers

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