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Janaagraha provides a web solution to civic woes

Saturday, 2 October 2010 - 10:16am IST | Place: Bangalore | Agency: dna

With the launch of iJanaagraha today, the non-government organisation is hoping to enable wider participation of all those with access to the internet in the administration of Bangalore.

Gandhi Jayanthi 2010 will mark the launch of Janaagraha’s first initiative in partnership with Omidyar Networks, iJanaagraha. Omidyar Networks is a firm that invests in philanthropic activities across the world, founded in 2004 by the man behind eBay, Pierre Omidyar, and his wife Pam.

The US-based firm has planned a total grant of three million US dollars in three years. The announcement of the partnership was made on Friday.

Janaagraha is the first Indian non-profit organisation to have received a grant from Omidyar Networks. “There is an alignment in the vision and values of Omidyar and Janaagraha. As Gandhiji said, we would both like to become the change we would like to see. We are both interested in giving people the tools and knowledge they need to bring about change. The partnership will not only benefit us monetarily, but it will also give us access to knowledge that we can put to test and implement in our work,” said Ramesh Ramanathan, co-founder, Janaagraha.

Jayant Sinha, managing director of Omidyar Networks, India Advisors, said, “The bottom line for our firm is social impact. We support the non-profit sector in building technology tools to bring in transparency in government. Janaagraha too works towards this goal. The grant will also support the bribe-reporting website, ‘I paid a bribe’, besides iJanaagarha. We will help to take these initiatives to a wider spectrum of society.”

Three other campaigns of Janaagraha: to make the city friendly to walkers, to enable people to cycle on city streets, and to get people more knowledgeable about the city will also draw funds from this source. Swati Ramanathan, co-founder of Janaagraha, said that the funds were corpus funds, which would support all initiatives of the NGO for one year.

The aim of iJanaagraha
Janaagraha’s first online web-based communicative and citizen interactive initiative, to be launched today, is called iJanaagraha. Swati Ramanathan said, “Gandhiji has been a great inspiration for us. Janaagraha was coined bearing in mind Gandhiji’s Satyagraha. By launching this initiative on Gandhiji’s birthday, we will also be paying tribute to the father of the nation”.

The iJanaagraha website has been designed by Velu Shankar, coordinator of Janaagraha. It will enable wide participation of all those with access to the web in civic matters. “The main editorial content was based on 11 parameters like water, sanitation, mobility, art and culture. These are issues that individuals face in their day-to-day lives. They can network with their neighbours and also across the city. They will have access to think-tanks and share knowledge on possible ways in which problems they face can be managed. The range of problems could extend from local ones to larger issues like managing the city’s garbage,” said Shankar.

Anyone who registers at the site will have access to information on the area’s corporator, the engineer responsible for provision of adequate water and power, details of resident welfare associations, NGOs and Area Suraksha Mitras. Even the calendar of events in the city will be posted on the website.

Networks extending across the neighbourhood should help resolve issues faced by people living in the same locality, overflowing drains, for instance. One can start by posting a complaint, and drawing attention to a nagging civic issue.
“iJanaagraha will serve as a complaint management system, enabling people to find solutions to the problems they share. The hope is to make even government officials accountable in matters of detail,” said Swati Ramanathan.

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