SIMPLIFYING PEOPLE'S LIVES
Our efforts have benefited all segments of the society including individuals residing in the slums, residents of the densely populous North Mumbai, the elite of South Mumbai, and grassroots and umbrella organizations working for good governance and increasing people's participation. Our experiences have taught us three things:
Praja is a non-partisan organization. It was started in Mumbai in 1997 by a group of eight individuals whose vision was to re-establish accountability and transparency in governance. These individuals were also concerned about a general lack of interest among the Citizens' in the local government. People had become apathetic towards public service agencies. They thought that these agencies were "corrupt", "inefficient" and "not amenable to change". At the same time, there was barely any interaction between the Citizens' and the local government. In sum, the spirit of democracy was waning and people were resigned to the prevailing situation in the city.
Our initial efforts were concentrated on improving the capacity of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to deliver better services and to be responsive to the people. We felt that this would activate Citizens' interest in the affairs of the local government. The conceptualization and implementation of the idea of the Citizens Charter in 1999 was the beginning of our work with the municipality and later Online Complaint Management System. Over time, Praja became a pressure group that persistently influenced the city government into establishing a pro-citizen work ethic.
Our next milestone is to work in collaboration with the elected representatives who represent us in the local, state and national legislatures, first, by increasing people's interaction with them and eventually, by fostering a democratic culture of questioning, debate and dialogue.