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Securing Rights & Entitlements

Indian law sets out a number of rights to protect citizens and guarantee certain entitlements, but these are often are not met due to policy and execution lacunae. Such laws include MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) which guarantees 100 days of paid employment in every financial year to every household, or the Public Distribution System (PDS) which distributes subsidised food and non-food items to India’s poor. We work with these government schemes, and have also implemented the government’s Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC) scheme, which aims to increase the level of sanitation in rural areas, increase the quality of people’s lives and end open defecation.

As many rural people, especially women, are illiterate and uneducated, they remain unaware of the laws that are there to protect or benefit them,

making the benefits inaccessible. The complex procedures and documentation involved also make it difficult for villagers to benefit as intended. There is also little understanding of the needs and rights of children, so Seva Mandir ensures that GVCs engage with children in their village, involving them in democratic processes and decision-making.

Seva Mandir works with village institutions and communities, as well as panchayats, to enable men, women and children in the villages to understand their rights, access the relevant government schemes, and be involved in democratic processes and decision-making. Seva Mandir also encourages and supports GVCs to discuss a range of issues with the panchayat leaders, such as a proposed set of activities for a village development plan or proposals awaiting a response from the panchayat. We have thus contributed to considerable social and institutional change, leading to an increase in the meaningful engagement of citizens with formal governance systems, and helping ensure that proper judicial and legal practices are followed.


Impact

The critical presence of such institutions as GVCs promoted by Seva Mandir not only leads to local participation and accountability in the implementation of any project-oriented objective, but also generates social capital and demonstrates the principles of transparency, equality and democracy. This encourages people to work together for the collective good in such a way that individuals willingly take responsibility for their personal and collective development and, at the same time, promotes an ethos of transparency and accountability, and deepens democratic functioning at the lowest community level.

In partnership with Plan India, Seva Mandir has developed community understanding of child protection and development issues. Matters relating to children’s needs and problems have become an integral component of all Seva Mandir activities.

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