Sunday, August 20, 2006

About SNS

Satark Nagrik Sangathan (SNS) is a citizen's group with a mandate to promote transparency and accountability in government functioning and to encourage active participation of citizens in governance. It aims to empower and mobilize people so that they can understand, demand and use their legal entitlements for their everyday needs of food, sanitation, water and basic infrastructure.
The key strategy of SNS has been to assist people exercise their Right to Information (RTI) using tools like the National Right to Information Act and the Delhi Right to Information Act. These acts provide the citizens with the right to seek information from government with respect to their working. It is often difficult for people to access their entitlements because of lack of information about their rights and more importantly because of the inherent fear of a common person to question the system. SNS works on all these fronts so that ultimately people have the information and the confidence to effect change.

SNS's endeavor is to empower individuals to fight corruption and arbitrary use of power and participate in the effective utilization of public funds. It also helps them engage with the government on issues of policy formulation and implementation.

The activities of the Sangathan are carried out by the volunteers and by some full time workers who draw a monthly stipend. The funds for SNS's activities are raised primarily through individual donations.
Members of SNS have been working closely with the residents of slum settlements in various fields including sanitation, education and the Public Distribution System.

In 2003 SNS began its activities in five slum clusters of Malviya Nagar and Hauz Khas constituencies of Delhi, namely, Jagdamba Camp, Malviya nagar Corner, Begumpur, Lal Gumbad and Swami Nagar. Most of the 7000 families residing in these slums live below the poverty line. The literacy rates are very low and people have little knowledge of the government systems and schemes operating in their area. As a result they are often deprived even of their basic rights. To educate people of the slums regarding their legal entitlements, SNS volunteers hold regular meetings at different locations in the bastis. They help slum dwellers use the RTI Acts to get information from several government departments responsible for the delivery of critical services to them. Based on the information obtained, SNS helps local communities carry out social audits and demand accountability from government functionaries.

In the middle and high income colonies, SNS assists individuals and resident Welfare Associations (RWAs) to use the RTI Acts for obtaining information on several issues including civic works like road maintenance, sanitation and water supply.

SNS has set up a Soochna Ghar or Information Center in Malviya Nagar. People get together at the Soochna Ghar to attend regular meetings, to get assistance in preparing applications and to take part in workshops on legal literacy, role of government, RTI and other subjects.

SNS's work on the RTI has resulted in empowering communities and has led to several instances of successful community action in the fields of food security, habitat, education and social security.

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