The Times Of India

Making people think about change is as hard as bringing about change, and the jury spent time choosing the winners in the Advocacy and Empowerment category. The deliberations began with the jury deciding against picking a winner in the corporate sector. While the two contenders — IFFCO Kisan Sanchar, which provides information to farmers on phone through recorded voice messages, and Swayam, which facilitates accessibility for the disabled in public spaces had done considerable work, the jury felt the impact was unclear and moved on to the government section.

In the government category, two district administrations from the most backward states — Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh â€” were in the running. While Kanpur Municipal Corporation has initiated e-governance for online property tax assessment , District Administration Gwalior has set up decentralized hubs to improve delivery of public services. Roy, Lyngdoh and Aga felt that Kanpur's model had been adopted earlier by other administrations. That left the field open for District Administration Gwalior, which the jury decided had brought citizens respite. Aga did point out that the number of beneficiaries had dropped the last year but the jury decided in its favour. The Janmitra Samadhan Kendra concept run by the Gwalior administration had better endorsement from the public than a scheme running concurrently involving private sector participation.

The NGOs category threw up more debate since Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), a think tank started by IIM professors to create awareness on electoral reforms, was up against Navsarjan Trust that has been working to empower Dalits in Gujarat. Syeda Hameed vouched for Navsarjan's work in 3,000 villages in Gujarat. "I have seen their work on the ground and I am very impressed. They have tangible impact," she said. Roy, however, felt ADR's work to disclose political candidates' backgrounds, including their financial assets and criminal antecedents, was excellent. "Whether they have impacted elections, we can't say. But if people are interested in reading affidavits now, it is because of them. These are fundamental shifts for the public," she said.

The micro versus macro debate — how to choose between smaller, lesser-known organizations and larger, better-known ones — continued for a while. Navsarjan is a small trust doing tremendous work in difficult circumstances, while ADR's impact is intangible but widespread. The jury decided to award both once Lyngdoh closed the debate with a simple analogy: "ADR is an ant biting an elephant. It bites very hard and it may make an impact, but that doesn't mean it should go unrecognized."


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