“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” – Mahtma Gandhi
People Centred Advocacy
People Centred Advocacy is an advocacy method pioneered by NCAS for the empowerment of people and the realization of their rights. It is a set of actions aimed at influencing public policies, societal attitudes, and sociopolitical processes in order to enable and empower the marginalised to speak for themselves. People Centred Advocacy engages the spirit of democracy, serving as an advocacy method that is by the people, of the people, and for the people. It is a value-driven, social and political process that encompasses a rights-based approach to social change and transformation; it is about mobilizing civil society against human rights violations to ensure that the state is accountable, transparent, ethical and democratic. People Centred Advocacy seeks to increase participation in the policy making process. By empowering people to advocate on their own behalf, NCAS engages People Centred Advocacy as an effective and sustainable approach to advocacy initiatives throughout India and South Asia. It undertakes programmes for building advocacy capacities of grassroots organisatons and marginalised communities, and of other civil society groups, NGOs and support organizations (including donor agencies).
Capacity building involves enhancing the capacities of grassroots activists and support groups at the local, regional, national and international levels, in order to advocate social justice and strengthen democratic alliances. People centred advocacy is possible only if the local level leaders have the capability and knowledge base to advocate for their communities. Capacity building is thus an action-oriented process of sharing and analyzing life experiences and building up one’s knowledge base. A crucial component of our capacity building programme involves conducting capacity building workshops for social justice activists, civil society organisations, social action groups, students, and media professionals. Modules are designed to enhance participants’ capacities in terms of knowledge, perspectives, and skills of people centred advocacy; it also serves to sensitize outside professionals, such as those in the media, on issues of discrimination, deprivation, and exclusion of poor and marginalised communities. NCAS has over the years created a niche in capacity building and knowledge management, especially on the themes of livelihood rights, environmental justice, and governance. Furthermore while NCAS is a leader in organising action at the national and state levels, it avoids overruling people’s leadership. To that extent, promotion of people-centric governance is a key strategy of capacity building, focusing on people centred advocacy.
NCAS views research as paramount to all advocacy work. By regularly researching contentious issues in India, NCAS provides the needed publications and materials to educate future activists on issues related to human rights, public policy and governance. These publications are circulated throughout marginalized communities so as to empower them with the necessary knowledge to advocate for the fulfillment of their rights. In order to reach all sections of society, NCAS’ publications are printed in different forms including policy briefs, report cards, books, and pamphlets; they are written in multiple languages, including English, Hindi, and Marathi.
Generating Public Discourse
NCAS seeks to use media as an alternative advocacy method to raise awareness concerning social justice issues. The media unit at NCAS attempts to bridge the gap between media arts and advocacy by using films as tools to advocate for human rights. Media advocacy, as employed by NCAS, includes the production and distribution of visual and performing arts in order to spread awareness of social justice issues and increase people’s understanding of their human rights. Confronting issues such as special economic zones, tribal rights, and land rights, NCAS uses multimedia to inform the general public of contemporary social justice issues in India. Working alongside other outreach methods and information-sharing strategies, media advocacy provides an additional medium through which all people can gain insight concerning their social well being and the challenges faced within India and throughout the Global South.
NCAS plays a critical role in coordinating, networking and planning campaigns that work collectively with activist groups and people’s movements, especially those within marginalised groups. The campaign support programme lends special attention to legislative advocacy, working with social activists to catalyze social change at the policy level. While NCAS works on legislative advocacy at the national level, the campaign support program seeks to continue its geographical focus on the central belt of India, especially with the Maharashtra State Legislature. The campaign support programme extends support to advocacy campaigns in need of effective intervention for a social justice campaign. The areas of support provided by NCAS include: documenting campaign processes, compiling policy-based publications, sending out action alerts, convening national and regional level consultations, preparing people’s manifestos, interfacing with bureaucrats, expanding networks with other social justice actors, investigating ground-level progress, researching issues, and mobilizing strategic campaign planning inputs. Through campaign support, NCAS strengthens advocacy campaigns and increases the skills of social justice advocates in India.