Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Report from The Second Never Forget Pune Chapter Meet

The Second Never Forget Pune Chapter Meet

Saturday, 28th March 2009

Venue: The Corinthians Club, Pune

Minutes of the Meeting

Attendees:

Special Guests: Anupam Saraph, Ranjit Gadgil, Col. Chaudhary, Col. Nadkarni, Monika Trivedi, Prof. Krishnayya

Volunteers: Salil Bijur, Major Sathe, Dinesh Hukumani, Anurag Jain, Anupama TD, Aboli Salvi, Aman Zaidi

The CIO of Pune, Mr. Anupam Saraph spoke first. He offered a wealth of ideas on what synergies exist & on what the way forward could possibly be. Here are some of the points he made:

§ Data: It’s easy for someone to discredit even verified data. One may discredit the source or produce another report from another source that claims different things/data/facts/figures.

§ Invite Political Parties & ER’s to upload the data themselves.

§ There is cost-saving in this for the Political Parties.

§ Use a Wiki model. (While Never Forget does exactly that, Mr. Saraph had other important things to point out):

a) Let ALL sources be quoted

b) Let the Wiki editors/volunteers take a call among themselves (assuming they will be from/working on one constituency, it may be easier for them to come to an informed decision/agreement, after sufficient thrashing out of the sources & the data?)

§ The Wiki model is “Of the People, By the People, For the People”!

§ Collaborate & Share data between both sites. Seek to function under one umbrella, sharing resources, yet maintaining the individual identities of the different initiatives.

§ Need “Jaagore” type of sponsorship to spread the word.

§ In response to Salil’s question: There is no clash between Never Forget and Beyond Voting as NF focuses on “Evaluatable Promises”, while BV focuses on “Continued Development”.

§ Create a page on Wikipedia on all sites with similar focus (eg. neverforget.in, ciopune.in, praja.org, beyondvoting.in, empoweringindia.org, punecorporation.org) Salil volunteered to complete this.

Mr. Ranjit Gadgil of Janwani, Door-Step (& Lead India) fame spoke next. He began by pointing out that:

§ If we Indians believe in the Democratic process, we should embrace it in its totality. He gave the examples of India’s poor being represented by smaller political outfits, resulting in the rights of these poor being protected; as opposed to the totalitarian regime in China where the poor don’t have a voice. (He gave quite a few examples which can be replicated in detail later for those who are interested.)

§ He also pointed out, that a candidate with a criminal record is of less worry, than the electorate that elects such candidates! He also added that the electorate is powerful enough to oust even an Indira Gandhi when it wants to. And replace anyone if it is unsatisfied.

§ He pointed out that our politicians, contrary to popular belief, by virtue of our system, are not totally unaccountable. They have to face elections every 5 years. That one fact may not do enough, but it does make them accountable to a certain degree. The greater problem lies with the Executive, our babus, who do not have to stand for re-election at all. They have the security of a Govt. job.

§ He stressed on the need for “Evaluation of the PMC by Citizens”. And hopefully get the Legislature to pass a law implemented for this.

Col. Chaudhari of the Nagrik Chetna Manch gave a presentation about the purpose & more importantly the achivements of his organization.

Salil Bijur & Anurag Jain gave an update on the translation of the PMC Commissioners Budget Speeches to source data on Mr. Kalmadi’s promises. Salil also gave a presentation on Mohalla Committees.

Major Sathe’s presentation focused on the irregularities in freedom fighter pensions & the plight of war martyr’s families.

Dinesh Hukumani related an inspring story about how he got into the Armed Forces as a young boy despite tremendous challenges. He drove home the point of keeping a positive outlook & perseverance.

Krishna Aradhi was unable to attend on account of ill health, but he sent a note which was read out in the Meet. He is busy working hard on data around the UPA Govt.’s promises (& on his exams).

Aboli Salvi, our new volunteer, suggested that a PowerPoint be put together to recruit volunteers in offices. She is willing to share the PowerPoint in her office & recruit people to the Never Forget cause. Aman takes on the responsibility of coming up with the PowerPoint.

Anurag Jain, probably our youngest volunteer, came up with the idea of Never Forget T-shirts. The idea was met with much enthusiasm. Aboli offered to use her experience for a good cause & work on the design. Dinesh volunteered to get a quote for the T-shirts from his contacts. Suggestions to try & get stores (big or small retailers/chains) to stock & sell the T-shirts were well received. This was hailed by all as a good way to not only create awareness but also to raise some funds for the NF initiative.

Suggestions on areas to focus on:

§ Follow up articles in the media.

§ Check MPLADS spend. The CAG audits this. If MP is being evaluated, the MPLADS too should be.

§ With recession, there is bench strength in the IT/ITES sector. Contact HR heads in theses organizations to get volunteers to key in data (or more?). (Mr. Saraph has already got cracking on this on his recent trip to Delhi)

Responsibility Matrix:

#

Task

Responsibility

Due by

Status

1.

Create Wiki page on all initiatives with similar objectives as Never Forget

Salil


Animesh has done it on the google groups site .

2.

Continue to collect data on Pune Lok Sabha seat

Never Forget Pune Volunteers


Ongoing

3.

Translate data available above from Marathi to English

Salil, Anurag others.


Ongoing

4.

Recruit volunteers from Offices. Prepare ppt to share in Offices.

Aboli

Aman


Not started

5.

Sell Never Forget T-shirts to generate interest & publicity.

- Finalize Design

- Get manufacturing quote

- Aboli Salvi

- Dinesh Hukumani


Animesh has a contact that does this over the web. Can evaluate that option too. Any updates from the others.


Special Thanks to our kind sponsors The Corinthians Club of the Nyati Group & their General Manager Mr. Arun Arora for making it all possible.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Calling Web Application Developers - Something YOU can do for NeverForget

Dear web-oriented members of the NeverForget Team.

As a results of discussions I have had with some of you over the past weeks, I now firmly believe that the website, which is the face of this initiative, is not very useful without data being there for the readers to see.

That said, the data won't be available until we are able to properly utilize the energies, times, and skills of our visitors and team-members.

Therefore, from from an "enabling" perspective, my first priority is to get a system running which will enable rapid collaboration to work on bite-sized tasks. The three responses we got to the help-us-translate-in-marathi request posted yesterday are a testament to the fact that such a system will be very useful.

To that end, I give to you, this new term:

Acton: act-on
n. Fundamental unit of action :)

The idea is to post actons on a system, and allow people to _easily_ search and volunteer for them. One constraint will be that each acton has an _upper limit_ on how much time it is expected to take. (e.g., 5 minutes for googling the status of Tamil as a classical language is great, while 1 month for collecting all the data on the UPAs promises is too large a grain, and needs to be broken down into a set of related actons).

The interesting part is, this problem is not unique to NeverForget, but is indeed faced by all voluntary organizations, where people want to contribute, but are not sure what the best use of their (limited) time is. Therefore, I have created a project on google code at http://code.google.com/p/sanjhachoolha , where we also have contributors not directly involved with Never Forget. I have also uploaded proposed screenshots of the application, which we have chosen to christen "sanjha choolha". Krishnakanth (LA) and Kunal (Bangalore) have already joined in to start this effort.

From the project website:

+++

Introduction

Sanjha Choolha : sān-jhā choo-lhā

n. A communal kitchen popular in the villages of Punjab

If you have worked in non-profits, you would have also felt that there are times when we cannot properly utilize the manpower available in enthusiastic volunteers. Sanjha Choolha aims to be a system to solve this fundamental problem.

+++

So dear web-application developers on this list, please visit the project site to know more about what the next steps are, and what skills are needed. If all goes well, we should be able to complete this piece of the puzzle in the next few weeks.

of course, comments and feedback are most welcome.

best wishes,
Animesh
Team Never Forget

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Know Marathi? Help in tracking promises by Suresh Kalmadi, MP from Pune

Hi All,

We have collected documentary evidence (in Marathi) substantiating the claims/promises in 2004-2009 manifesto of Suresh Kalmadi, sitting MP from Pune. These will be scanned and put up on the NeverForget gallery shortly. While our enthusiastic Pune volunteers Salil and Anurag have translated some the relevant sections of the docs from Marathi to English, we need more translating resources...so ALL you marathi literate friends kindly pitch in.

best wishes,
The NeverForget Team
P.S. Email anupama @ neverforget.in for more info/questions/volunteering