Odisha Nagarik Samaj – 7th Foundation Day meeting of Odisha Nagarika Samaj (ONAS) scheduled to be held at Budha Mandira, Unit-9, Bhubaneswar on 18th December, 2016 at 10 a.m. President Jantrana Parikshit addressed the meet focusing on the ensuing Gram Panchayat Election and Dr. Bhagabanprakas made his opinion public by asserting on 3rd Government system and left a very strong message for the civil society to see the Gram Panchayat election should stay away from political parties interference and no allurement of any kind be sabotaged .
A Civil Society Coalition Towards building an Inclusive Citizens’ Sector ( Civil society) A Concept outline Need & rationale There are more than 20,000 registered societies in the state that aim at working among the people on various development issues and yet half of the state population continues to live below poverty line. After 11 five year plans and large investment by the state, the absolute number of poor people in the state is still on the rise. On human development indicators, Odisha continues to be at the bottom among the major states. The NGOs, one of the 40 plus civil society categories in the state, had arrived on the scene with a big bang and velvet growth in the early seventies, generating a lot of promise and hopes. They are a fragmented house today with a battered and bruised image. The health of the civil society is no better as many of them work in isolation of each other, without any unity in mind and unity in purpose. A strong civil society can not be built by weak citizens and their weaker associations. Therefore, the time has come for the sensible citizens and CSOs of the state to introspect and reassess their situation, identify weaknesses and gray areas, reexamine their present role and relevance and rebuild a new civil society coalition and collective to forcefully voice the genuine concerns of the people. Internationally, Civil Society has been defined as the sphere of institutions, organizations and individuals located between the family, the state and the market in which people associate voluntarily to advance common interests. The National Policy on Voluntary Sector (NPVS) has formally acknowledged the need for strategic partnership with key stakeholders of the civil society now recognized as an independent, autonomous sector. In this context, Odisha, has a long felt need for a state level autonomous and inclusive civil society forum wherein individuals, groups, organizations and networks outside the government and the market can come together on a common platform to articulate peoples’ concerns on and about issues that directly affect the state and its citizens. It is already recognized that, there are three major players in the development process and endeavor, i.e. the public sector (State), the private sector (Market) and the citizen sector (Civil society).A strong, united, value based citizens sector only has the capacity to enforce accountability on the other two sectors. In fact, a healthy constructive civil society sector would be seen as having contributed greatly to resolving many social economic and political problems. The ‘Odisha Civil Society Index’, the first of its kind in India and one of the 63 such studies sponsored by CIVICUS in different parts of the world, the UN nodal and apex body for civil society, has come out with major recommendations after examining four aspects of the Odisha civil society, namely, its structure, environment, values and impact. The recommendations are – i. To establish a state level mechanism for more regular and systematic interface among various civil society sub sectors, such as NGOs, trade 2 unions, tribal and other disadvantage groups, and professional associations etc. ii. To establish a common systematic framework to develop mechanisms for dialogue among civil society, the state, and the business sector. iii. To improve the CSOs’ internal transparency, accountability, Independence, autonomy, creativity and to enhance Odisha civil society’s legitimacy and social relevance. Vision, Objectives & Strategy: Consequently, several small group discussions have been organized by some well meaning members of Odisha civil society . Based on the input and insights, the following vision and objectives have been identified for the proposed state level civil society, ie, “Odisha Nagarik Samaj” (ONAS). Vision : An inclusive, united and proactive Citizen Sector working together for a self reliant, socially just and self respecting Odisha, living in peace and progressive harmony . Objectives: To work as a lobby, advocacy ,pressure group and watch dog body to protect and promote the legitimate interest of the state of Odisha , its civilizational heritage and values, and common property sources, To provide policy and strategy inputs to national and state plans with a bearing on Odisha. To facilitate civil society solidarity on social and human development issues of common concern. To build a platform for the Civil Society stakeholders to come together for exchange of ideas, views and experience. To promote dialogue and networking among stakeholders in the civil society as a means of empowering them. To develop a common vision and agenda for constructive engagement with the public and private sectors. To function as a Coalition and common forum to encourage an effective interface between the three key sectors, namely, state, market and the citizen sector. To support and promote secular humanism, civic peace building, social alliance and issue based solidarity. To undertake/sponsor action research/studies on emerging state issues and create a knowledge and evidence base to support its intervention programmes. Guiding Values & principles: The ONAS will be guided and based on a foundation of positive values. These include – spirit of volunteerism, Concern for the development of the state, Tolerance and respect for all faiths, belief systems, Willingness to understand and appreciate the other person’s point of view, Democratic practices, creative co-operation, 3 Non violence, equity, gender sensitivity, Transparency, accountability, Sustainable development, Pro- poor initiatives, Social harmony and peace. Based on these values and principles the proposed ONAS members together will frame a code of ethics to guide their own behavior. ONAS will not have any ideological affiliation. Relationship with the State and the Market: ONAS will pursue an issue based approach and follow the principle of solidarity and non-violence in order to meet its objectives. It recognizes that the state and market are key players in development and hence would like to have a constructive relationship with them as equal partner. It will support all pro-people, pro-poor, pro-environment and progressive ventures of the public and private sectors, based on informed consent and participation of the people in decisions that affect them. However, ONAS would not compromise on any issue that negatively impacts on the larger interest of the state, its ecology and the livelihood sources of its citizens. Categories of membership: According to the Odisha Civil Society Index, the following categories would be eligible for membership of ONAS : 1) Non government, non profit voluntary organizations. 2) Charitable Societies and Trusts. 3) Woman’s organizations. 4) Youth groups, clubs & youth centers. 5) Student unions & student organizations. 6) Environmental groups and activists. 7) SHG Federations / Networks, 8) Professional associations and mutual benefit societies. 9) CSR implementing autonomous agencies, 10) Art and crafts societies/ federations. 11) Trade unions / workers union. 12) Mass media / Audio visual, electronic & print media 13) Gandhian and Sarvodaya Organisations 14) Human rights organizations (working for land rights, food rights, transgender rights,information rights, tribal rights, minority rights, women’s rights, etc.) 15) Social Movements. 16) Advocacy organizations 17) Health CSO’s 18) Associations of the physically challenged (blind persons’ associations 19) Training organizations. 20) Youth volunteer networks. 21) Writers, Cultural groups and Artists of all categories 22) Cooperative societies 23) Parents’ associations 24) Teachers’ unions 25) Transport & porters organization. 26) Associations of the informal/unorganised sector 27) Universities , autonomous institutions, 4 28) Ethic groups, Bhagbat tungies, rationalist forums,Puja;EId committees 29) Ethnic groups, Caste mahasabhas 30) Guru inspired seba societies 31) Farmers organizations 32) Education CSO’s 33) Grant-making foundations 34) Public & private philanthropic bodies 35) Rotary clubs / Lions clubs / YMCA / YWCA etc. 36) Autonomous PRIs 37) And variouse other city / rural based organizations. 38) Burial societies & Cremation societies. 39) Citizens with active interest to work with ONAS for Odisha’s development, 40) Non-resident Odias(NROs) outside Odisha and India, with interest in Odisha’s development. Members will continue to retain their own identity, ideology and programme priorities and will come together only on issues of common concern. Membership: Scope and process; Organisations and individuals who are passionate about Odisha’s development and believe and accept the vision, values and principles of ONAS are eligible for ONAS membership. A member of ONAS can recommend an individual and similarly a member Organisation / Institution can also recommend another Organisation for ONAS membership .after scrutinizing their profile. However, people with credibility and reputation in the field of social work/social activism / expertise and experience in different fields can also be invited to be members of ONAS. Membership fees: Organisational Rs 1000/- per annum Life Member Rs 5000/- Life time Individual Rs 500/- per annum NRO in India Rs 500/- per annum NRO abroad USD 50 per annum Could be revised from time to time for new members based on consensus. Structure: ONAS will have state level, district level autonomous structures ( Zilla Nagarika Samaj) which will eventually extend to Block and Panchayat level. At state level it will have a State Convener, Co-Convener and Coordinator to be supported by a small Working Group. There will be a Policy Advisory Council (PAC), consisting of eminent citizens of the state known for their integrity and leadership qualities, who will have their own chairperson. 5 Within ONAS, a Spearhead Group, consisting of relatively younger persons will be formed to promote larger youth participation and leadership. An expert on youth will be the Adviser of this group. At District level, it will have a Convener, Co-Convener and a Coordinator. The tenure of such positions will be for one year only and changed every year on rotation basis, In order to maintain continuity two Conveners for two succeeding years will also be decided in advance Incumbents will not be repeated for three years. The outgoing State convener will normally function as the chairperson of the Advisory Council. Existing district level civil society networks, if any, can be co-opted as ONAS district branches, after consultation , Each district unit can function as fully autonomous units within the broad parameters, guiding principles & values agreed to by ONAS members Three months before the year ends, new Conveners and Coordinators will be elected for the following year. No, No, Areas: This is not a group or network of NGO’s ONAS will not be a project implementing agency, It will not have any hierarchy or high table, It will not depend on external agencies for its sustenance and instead would prefer individual and organizational donations to meet the cost of its activities, It will neither adopt nor follow or support non-democratic, violent ways / methods to articulate the concerns of the people. It will not work for any individual organizations to promote their agenda, It will not project any individual or ideology, It will not work, directly or indirectly, for any party based political organizations or profit oriented / centric institutions. It will not interfere with the affairs of the members and their organizations. It will not engage in partisan/ sectarian activities. Decision making: ONAS will not project any individual as its leader and instead will rely on collective leadership and decision making. All District level Conveners will be part of the ONAS Presidium for participation in decision making, It will be a flat, horizontal and learning organization and all important decisions to be taken by ONAS will be on the basis of consensus. Whenever there is a difference or major division on issues, it will be referred to the Advisory Council for final decision which will be binding. 6 Urgent issues with an immediate bearing on the interest of the state and its people will be identified based on evolving situations. Nature of intervention will be decided by the members. District level ONAS Units will be free to decide issues related to their Districts for intervention based on their wisdom and priority and in consultation with ONAS( State Level). Logistics: ONAS will function in Bhubaneswar in a temporary accommodation until a proper place is identified. The Convener will be an honorary position and s(he) will work for ONAS, without any honorarium or compensation, Secretarial, stationery, communications and other contingency expenses will be met by donations of the members / participating organizations. ONAS will prepare a resource inventory of proactive citizens and CSO’s for participation in its activities. ONAS will have its own Banner and Logo. A Request: This draft will be finalized by 10th of February. It has been revised a number of times based on feedback from various stake holders. All citizens, interested to be a part of this process, are requested to offer their constructive suggestions as to how to build a strong, vibrant, sustainable, civil society in the state. The views can be mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org , email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org with copy to email@example.com. Contact No. – 9861033329 / 9439487471 / 9238385250 / 9438559893. It is our sincere hope that, in the larger interest of the State, individuals and organizations would rise above their differences to come together, to promote and strengthen an inclusive Civil Society in Odisha.