A meeting of Mr. Jagadananda, president, NSW with senior members of West Bengal Social Watch on May 23, 2014 in Kolkata.
In his welcome address, Mr. Biplab Halim, Convener, West Bengal Social Watch (WBSW) introduced Mr. Jagadananda, former legal commissioner, RTI, Odisha and president, National Social Watch and spoke about his contributions in diversified areas involving our democratic set-up in both national and state arenas. While Mr. Halim welcomed the participants in the meeting, the participants also introduced themselves.
Mr. Jagadananda gave a view of the protracted struggles NSW had gone through and highlighted the achievements it could reap. National Social Watch Coalition (NSWC) is a broad-based network of civil society organizations and citizens. The Social Watch process intends to analyse the performance of the institution of governance, their commitment towards citizens and their practice of democratic values. He laid stress on the efforts of civil society organizations at every step.
Mr. Jagadananda narrated the predicament NSW faced from every quarters of power-that-be, whether it is judicial, parliament or other institutions of governance. However, NSW could persuade its adversaries and achieve its goal. Strike the iron while it is hot, said Mr. Jagadananda while addressing the ways and means civil society organizations should adopt. He advised the CSOs to rise to the occasion immediately on spot and initiate work on that. While answering different issues raised by the participants, the NSW chief said that it was not a panacea for all issues, as NSW had its own agenda.
Among the participants Dr. Buddhadeb Ghosh, former director, State Institute of Panchayet and Rural Development, govt. of West Bengal and now chief of regional office of Institute of Social Sciences, Kolkata accused the government machinery of not providing adequate data, even if the query was made according to the provision of RTI Act. These had been a constant problem to researchers and academicians.
Dr. Amiya Samanta, an executive committee member of WBSW and former director general of police, govt. of West Bengal, lauded the efforts of Election Commission in running the poll process spreading over a long period of time in this large country. At the same time he regretted the violence, intimidation and other gross violations of political parties among others.
Prof. Satyabrata Chowdhury, president, Indian Association, the oldest civil society organization of the country was all praise for the activities of NSW and its commendable works to streamline the institutions of governance. Mr. Ajit Pati, ex-director, JSS, Ramakrishna Mission Ashram, Narendrapur opined to take up some relevant issues relating to Institutions of governance and find out the difficulties in their operations.
Dr. Ujjaini Halim, coordinator, FIAN West Bengal stressed the organization like NSW or WBSW had its own mandate and according to that it would instill dynamism in the procedure of governance. There were other fora to follow up, and specially the civil society organizations were to take the mandate to the people.
Dr. Meher Engineer, former director, Bose’s Institute and active member of FAMA raised some critical issues in the field of education in the state. He also cited some specific cases of aberration in the governance.Mr. Bijay Sarkar, a leading member of NAPM, said the civil society organizations in the meeting were not the ultimate decision-maker. They should integrate with the toiling masses and think over a positive model of development.
In fine, Mr. Biplab Halim summed up the session by stressing the integration of the working organizations with people at grass roots level. He suggested to revisit our mandates and also to address the basic issues affecting the lives of people. To this end he also suggested to organize a ‘retreat’ some time in near future so that we could recollect our past, reflect on the present and to visualize the future. Apart from the earlier suggestions, member-participants at the meeting resolved that WBSW was to be activated so that it could function on regular basis and make necessary intervention in various policy matters and act through participation, engagement, dialogue and when necessary criticism where mobilization of resources was necessary.
Mr. Jagadananda thanked WBSW and participants to organize the meeting within a short notice and expressed his appreciation for the valuable interaction with the wise members. He assured his best cooperation to facilitate the process of WBSW in the forthcoming days.
Dr. Ujjaini Halim offered the vote of thanks on behalf of WBSW to Mr. Jagadananda for coming all the way to participate in the discussion-meet and for his assurances of all round cooperation to WBSW. She also extended her heartfelt thanks to all the participants here.