The Launch of www.empoweringIndia.org in Kerala was organised on 8th November, 2008 at Ashirbhavan, Cochin by Centre for Public Policy Research. The launch was attended by eminent personalities from different fields like Shri P A Rajan, eminent journalist and political commentator, Dr G Gopakumar, Head of Dept, Political Science,Kerala University,representatives from numerous NGOs from different parts of Kerala and students from different colleges.
Before the formal launch of the website, Mr. Barun Mitra from Liberty Institute introduced the project to the gathering. He shared with them his experience, his thoughts and what led Liberty Insitute to initiate the proect called Empowering India and also what he envisions in the future about the prospects of the project.
|Dr. Sebastin Paul launching the website|
EmpoweringIndia.org was formally launched by Dr. Sebastin Paul, MP. He commended Liberty Institute and Centre for Public Policy Research for the noble initiative and said that every voter has the rigtht to be able to access as much information about their political representatives and an initiative like this would make the democratic exercise more fruitful. He also said that such an effort would definitely hailed and credited with helping in making the electoral system more efficient.He mentioned that such a website would be helpful both for the general public and to the candidates contesting for elections. He added that the website is more relevant in cities like Ernakulam where ordinary people have access to the internet. After the inauguration, Mr. Barun took the audience through the details that are available in the website. They saw the affidavit details of Dr. Sebastin Paul. The reponse to the demo of the website was very enthusiastic. Most of those who were present there were already discussing the various aspects the website and its scope.
Mr. Dhanuraj D, Chairman, CPPR delivered the vote of thanks and shared his experience on working with Liberty Institute. He also mentioned what role CPPR would like to play for the future prospects of the website in the collection and dissemination of the information. He said that CPPR wants to take the information in the website to the masses so that they can make an informed decision regarding their leaders.
Prof. K V Thomas, M.L.A felicitated the gathering and said that in a vibrant democracy people should be aware of the activites of their leaders in the Parliament and assembly.He said that this website is a novel attempt in providing easy access to the public to get more information and thereby know their representatives better.
The launch was followed by a discussion on the prospects of the websites in the future and how to make the website more effective and efficient in reaching out to the public. Dr. Gopakumar moderated the discussion and also shared his experiences being a political scientist and as someone who is well versed with the political conditions in Kerala. Many questions were posed to Mr. Barun on the website, its relevance, scope and usefullness. The general consensus was that there would definitely be a positive impact but there was still question of how wide is the scope of the website keeping in mind that only about 40 million people in India have access to the internet and even among them what would be the percentage who would be interested in such issues and discourses. Retd. Prof. K C Abraham mentioned that this project would definitely bring about more accountability and transparency. He also said that the amount of money spent by candidates on electioneering should also be kept track of and made known to the public. The discussions included the comparison of American political process to that of India.The discussions ended on a positive note by Mr. Barun on how with all the constraints we can still bring about change and awarenedd through a joint cooperative effort.
Centre for Public Policy Research plans to take the information that is available in the website to the grassroot levels in Kerala and help every voter make an informed decision about who should be their representative. The Centre believes whis could go a long way in making the democratic process transparent and also increase the accountability of the politicians towards the people. The Centre is already in discussion with various NGOs around the state to build a network to gather and disseminate information to the common man and also spread the message among the youth of the state.