As per the initial master plan, two periodical newsletter are to be published during the project duration. One, a bilingual and the other an electronic newsletter. Both the newsletters would be published quarterly. Both the newsletters have been titled `The 5th Estate’. In addition to these exclusive newsletters for the project, CUTS also comes out with a wall paper titled `Gram Gadar’ and a monthly newsletter titled `Aap Ke Naam Chitti’.
- The 5th Estate
The purpose of this newsletter is to provide a forum in particular to the civil society, our networking organisations and the masses, to understand the issues related to governance clearly and to promote a healthy, transparent, corrupt free government, where peoples’ rights are protected.
- The first issue of the newsletters was published in November 2000, while the second issue was published in March 2001. The first newsletter was more on a trial basis and on the feedback received, we have decided to come out with the regular version on a quarterly basis.
- The 5th Estate would cover issues related to the project, news items on various subjects such as good governance, corruption, gram panchayat, education, government announcements etc.
- Our networkers are being encouraged to contribute stories and news clippings on various issues related to governance and we have been receiving a fairly good response from them. Some of the experiences faced by the common man vis-à-vis governance, will also be covered in these issues.
- Gram Gadar
This is a monthly wall newspaper, which has emerged as a rural communication development initiative. It carried vital information on developmental schemes, legal rights, women’s rights, environmental issues, landmark consumer decisions, women and child health, village upliftment, accountability and governance and other related issues.
It has been instrumental in providing a forum for the oppressed classes in getting justice. Its readership cannot be judged merely by the number of copies distributed, which is around 10,000. It actually runs into lacs as even illiterates read the newspaper through the mouths of others’.
- Aap Ke Naam Chitti (Letter for you)
This monthly newsletter highlights activities of organisations networking at grassroots. It carries news related to the consumer movement in Rajasthan. It also draws public attention towards the accountability of the government.
All these publications have proved to be very effective in creating mass awareness.
In addition to the travel for attending the regional workshops, a number of field visits were made by various members of the project team. In the initial stages, Bipul Chatterjee and Deepak Saxena visited all the 7 nodal districts, namely, Chittorgarh, Jodhpur, Ajmer, Kota, Sawai Madhopur, Nagaur & Jalore.
After taking over the reins of the project, Srinivas Krishnaswamy has undertaken a number of visits. He visited the Divisions of Ajmer, Jodhpur & Udaipur and had extensive meetings with the Divisional Commissioner and the District and Additional District Magistrate. He also met a few select Block Development Officers in some of these districts. In addition to the above divisions, he had also a good meeting with the Divisional Commissioner of Jaipur and the Jaipur District and Additional District Magistrate.
Srinivas Krishnaswamy also visited the District Headquarters of Chittorgarh, Pali, Jalore, Sirohi, Dungarpur, Banswara, Rajasamand, Bhilwara, Jaisalmer & Barmer. He had successful meetings with the District Magistrate, Additional District Magistrate (Development), Chief Medical Health officer and Chief Executive Officer, Zilla Parishad in each of the mentioned places.
Relevant excerpts of tour reports are being enclosed as annexure.
Bipul Chatterjee attended several workshops on budget analysis, which were organised by The Ford Foundation, in association with the International Budget Project (IBP) of the Centre for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), Washington DC, USA. Learning from these workshops was helpful in preparing the plan of action and implementation of the project. They were shared with the project team, including the networkers, associated with the project.
In the first workshop, held in Goa, India in October 1999, Chatterjee was able to interact with a number of people from different organisations who are working on budget analysis for quite some time. The interaction was particularly helpful in understanding issues and how to apply them in relevant contexts. A plan of action for implementing the project, including networking and advocacy strategy, was prepared on the basis of the report of the Goa workshop.
In November 1999, Chatterjee participated an international workshop on budget analysis, held in Washington DC, USA. It helped in networking with various international groups working on budget analysis and its different aspects, and the methodology of analysing the impact of budget on different target groups. In particular, the workshop was helpful in understanding the nuances of advocacy, its timing, target group etc and outreach. On the basis of the report of this workshop, the plan of action was revised.
In November 2000, The Ford Foundation, in association with the CBPP organised an international seminar on ‘budget and poverty’. It was held in Mumbai, India. Chatterjee participated in the seminar and distributed documents on project-related activities. The event was particularly helpful in understanding the linkages between budget and approaches in analysing poverty and related issues. He discussed the implementation of the project with several key personnel and sought their help and advice on some critical issues. The same is being used in implementing the project.