Ankit chouskey

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Published on February 27, 2014

Author: socialscribblers



This article has been written for Techkriti Blog for a Cause Contest.
The topic was:
Pick up a Non-Governmental-Organisation working for a particular social cause. Write about its objectives, its progress so far and what are its plans for the future.

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ADR - Giving Strength To Our Democracy Since 1999 So the grand festival of Democracy is just few months away. Parties gearing up their cadre, oiling their organizational machinery to ensure their victory in this festival. While all these things are happening, the question arises, Who is there to keep a watch over any wrong doing by the politicians and their party? Yes! I know there is Election Commission Of India (ECI) , but there is someone else too who is the watch dog, doing his work silently but sincerely, keeping an eye on the election process and the political parties. Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), an NGO founded in 1999 by a group of professors at IIM Ahmadabad. The primary objectives of ADR are election watch, political parties watch and empowering the electorate. Since these are very vast areas, ADR has chosen to put their efforts in (a) Reducing Corruption and criminalization of Political Parties. (b) Empowering the electorate about the candidate and parties, to help them make an informed choices during elections. (c) To bring greater accountability of Political Parties.

(d) To bring inner party democracy and transparency in Political Parties. They carry out work by appealing to Election Commission of India (ECI) , Central Information Commission (CIC), and if necessary The Supreme Court (SC) in order to bring in reforms in our political and electoral system. And they have been successful in many of their efforts. Let me give a few important changes that were brought by ADR or with the help of ADR. In May'02 and March'03 Supreme Court made it mandatory to disclose criminal, financial and educational background of candidate contesting an election. In September'03, a bill was passed on electoral expenses, giving ECI more tools to carry out fair election and controlling the use of money power in elections. ADR struggled for 2 years and in June'13 CIC delivered a landmark judgement, bringing 6 national parties under RTI Act, thus bringing in the transparency in political system and making them accountable to people through RTI. However many political parties are against it and the matter is in the standing committee of parliament. ADR with the help of Lady Thomas and other NGO fought a legal battle in the supreme court in which the supreme court barred sitting MPs/MLAs from holding office if convicted by court of law. RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav is one of the politicians who lost their Lokshabha seat due to this decision. In their effort to empower the electorate, ADR is working very hard encouraging people to vote and informing them about the criminal, financial and educational background of the candidates contesting from their constituency in order to help them make an informed choice. they have actively engaged celebrities like Amir Khan, journalists and many known personalities to encourage people to cast their vote .They have started a website * <>*, where you can get every available details about elections, candidates and parties. In order to

reach masses they came up with SMS service, where one can send a simple SMS and can avail the details of sitting MP/MLA , and during election year the details of every candidate contesting. Their efforts have brought a substantial change in Indian electoral system. Many of us have seen in the News that many political parties do not declare their source of income for nearly 70-80% of their total income. Recently the Nirbhaya case was in the news for long time and Justice Verma Committee was set up to recommend an action plan for sexual harassment. the report widely quoted the data of ADR with politicians charged with crime against women. The work done by ADR is often in the background. You see it in news channel, news papers which quote the data analysis done by ADR. ADR has done a appreciable work, but it is still a long way ahead to fully achieve their objectives. And they are continuously working to realize it. The work done by ADR is also recognized. In 2011 ADR won the NASSCOM award for ICT led Innovation by Multistakeholder Partnership for its Election Watch Software with Webrosoft. In 2012 ADR won the mBillionth Award South Asia for the category of 'Mobile Innovations for Good Governance' featuring its PULL SMS programme which allows every mobile user in the country to get information about his/her MP/MLA by typing a simple SMS on his/her phone. So next time when you go to vote, use the services of ADR and make an informed choice. - Ankit Chouskey

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