Live Blog: Changing Society and Governments (Panel Discussion)

This session will explore the appropriate modes of dialogue and engagement between civil society, the private sector and government. Panelists include Garima Aggarwal, Ashoka Changemaker Schools Program, Maesy Angelina, MAMPU Program (Indonesia) and Jai Dhar Gupta. The panel will be moderated by Sumandro Chattapadhyay, Research Director at Center for Internet and Society.

12.33: Sumandro welcomes the panelists and introduces the topic changing society and government. He says that with the idea of changing society and government, there is this overwhelming responsibility to change the society and government. Given that, there are two things he would like to understand today. First, how do government, civil society and media be hold accountable for civic issues? Second, what made you choose this particular function you have chosen?

12: 40 – Jai says that it is nice that there are bunch of smart people talking about smart cities here. He shared a recent example of the dangerous levels air quality since Friday which is state of emergency and he has been blogging about. He says that no child should be allowed to play outside. He is passionate about it and feels responsible towards the climate.

12: 43 – Maesy begins with her work at MAMPU program which started last year. MAMPU works on improving the equality in employment and labour market outcomes for women in Indonesia. This needs more community based approach. She says that the pressure comes from both donors and government when you are working with them

She says that it is believed that women organisations understand the voice of women. Is it really true? Is it not more responsible to say this is the problem and this is the solution. So, we set up with all these problems in place and design thinking is one element of our approach.

12:48 – Garima says that she represents Ashoka. Ashoka is hard to situate anywhere on the spectrum as it is not an organization or a funding agency. It is a catalyst in the ecosystem that identify patterns that exist in the society and work towards them. To Sumandro’s question of what took them to get there, she says that in late 70s or early 80s, their founder saw the trends emerging at that time and used his observation understood that institutions creating system won’t solve the worlds issues. They will make things convenient and that is why they were failing, they were failing and large society is failing. So, we work with system changing entrepreneurs who work with periphery, identify the problem and its solution and execute it with such passion and clarity that change will happen.

12:49 – Sumandro posed his second question as what kind of challenges you face given the role you are playing?

12: 49 – Maesy says that how to make vision more clear that solution will have an impact. Government can also be interested in problems and solutions, so that is one changing mode of engagement. I have to say that central government not is the only mode of engagement. It’s the local govt at they are the one who are able to test the solutions.  Just saying it is the problem and this is the solution, sharing these three ideas can solve this problem. We tested this with local government and the feedback was positive.

12:50 – Jay says that on Saturday and Sunday our government, even the American embassy switches off the air quality monitors as they don’t want distract tourists from coming to Delhi. We need to understand that the government will not do anything if we will not want it.

12:51 –  Garima adds to this saying that they have 3,000 Ashoka fellows worldwide. Considering, the pace of problem is far exceedable the solutions, each and everyone of us in  this room need to be changemakers. Our vision now is how everyone can be a changemaker. The question we have is how youth can lead the change as we are the sutradhars.

12:52- The next question was about the challenges panelists face when they see the sector at large?  Jai says that especially in a place like India, government need to have right set of incentives. We do not have the right people to do the job. There is lot to learn from Paris and China. We can do it, we just need right set of people.

12:53 – Garima and Maesy see gaps in the sense of collaboration. Garima says private sectors and startups are innovators and for them what is missing is collaboration? We need to collaboration rather than find a new set of stakeholders.

12:54 – The discussion floor is open to audience.

First question -How would innovators understand the needs of government, perhaps government is trying to solve the problem? Garima says that there are people within government who aligns with the your goal, it is just about finding right kind of people. They are very supporting of the approach we follow and open to it. They are in favor of everyone being are changemaker.

Second question – In a country like India which has a history of protesting, how can we bring the change without protest? How can we get people to bring the change? To which Jai says that we do not act until something affect us personally, unless there is a death of a loved one, we don’t wake up. Maesy says that everybody needs to care about everything and it is about finding people who cares about the things as you. The changemakers are the people who are wiling to risk their everything. People have been murdered because they have different view point in India. Garima adds to what Maesy says that we expect education institutions to build empathy in people but how can education systems can build that consciousness. They cannot solve all the problems.

One of the participant adds to this saying that in any government you can always find who are willing to listen most radical ideas. Government is quite serious about solving these issues. It is actually the dysfunctional apparatus of government which is hindering the change.

Session comes to an end



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