The Indian Lok Sabha Elections 2014 has managed to create an unprecedented buzz on social media. But most of the buzz has been for the benefit of the politicians; we haven’t heard of too many citizen groups amidst all the noise. Well, Navonmesh Technology team from Pune has involved citizens to put together a people’s manifesto, called Desh Ki Awaj, which they plan to hand over to the party that comes to power at the Centre.
“I don’t think voting alone is enough; the government needs to understand what Indians really want. All political parties published their manifesto but no one has asked what the people want. Therefore, we want to proactively tell them what we want,” explains Abhijit Mhetre, who is part of the Desh Ki Awaj team. This group of Pune-based volunteers has decided to leverage their platform to collect inputs from people and then take it to the next government.
The platform Desh Ki Awaj was launched 10 days ago, and has so far got inputs from 150 participants. While the number is hardly comparable to the population of our country, the team is bullish that the number will grow by the time the elections are over.The background to the creation of Desh Ki Awaj was an on-ground exercise that the team undertook, where they interviewed several people in colleges, rickshaw stands, offices, malls, and many other public places asking them three questions - 1. Have you read any political party's manifesto/agenda? 2. If the answer is "yes", has any political party asked you "What do you want us to address?" 3. "Given an opportunity, would you like to tell the next government what it should do for you? Which issues they should address first?
“Many people were surprised with the second question since they never thought that somebody would ask them for their input. However, people were very vocal and open in sharing their inputs,” says Abhijit.
The volunteer team plans to consolidate all the inputs post election results and take it to the next government, as well as share it with the media. Even after the elections come to an end, the data collected will always be publicly available on Desh Ki Awaj. While the platform is open and can be read by all, the team behind the platform plans to make a proper report of the inputs they gain over time and present it to the government and the media.
The team hopes that people will come ahead and use the platform to contribute in India's first ever public manifesto. Currently, the platform is getting publicity through Facebook and WhatsApp. Coverage in mainstream newspapers has also helped give them a further boost.
Navonmesh Technology is a startup based in Pune that is working to build Canvazify, a real time collaborative platform where like-minded people can collaborate and work towards solving a similar problem. They are currently in private beta and are being used by IT startups and product design companies. The Desh Ki Awaj team comprises of Abhijit Mhetre, Niket Puranik, Akshay Nahar, Sneha, Megha, and Sarika.