The National Centre for Advocacy Studies (NCAS) emerged as a result of the collective vision and commitment of social activists who felt the need for a resource centre to facilitate advocacy for issues of public concern, specifically the rights of marginalised people. NCAS is a social change resource centre that aims at creating enabling conditions for people’s empowerment at the grass-roots and facilitating efforts for human rights, social justice, and transparent, participatory and accountable governance.

Though the focus of its activities is in India and the rest of South Asia, NCAS is emerging as a premier centre for people centred advocacy throughout the Global South. NCAS works as a collective of activists, researchers, public interest lawyers, journalists and subject experts. It has pioneered the concept and praxis of “People-Centred Advocacy”. It attempts to support and strengthen people‐centred advocacy through capacity development programmes, research and documentation, media advocacy and support to various people’s campaigns. As part of its capacity development programmes, NCAS has initiated an Advocacy Internship Programme since July 1999.

Vision

NCAS believes in:

  • a society without poverty, injustice and discrimination,
  • where every person and community can realize Human Rights to live with dignity,
  • working towards a people-centered participatory, transparent, accountable and just governance.

Mission

NCAS is an Advocacy Resource Centre that seeks to:

  • strengthen capacities and struggles of marginalized communities to claim Human Rights and Social Justice.
  • promote people’s access, influence and participation in institutions of democracy.

PEOPLE CENTRED ADVOCACY

People Centred Advocacy is an advocacy method pioneered by NCAS for the empowerment of people and the realization of their rights. It is a set of actions aimed at influencing public policies, societal attitudes, and sociopolitical processes in order to enable and empower the marginalised to speak for themselves. People centred advocacy engages the spirit of democracy, serving as an advocacy method that is by the people, of the people, and for the people.
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People-centred advocacy is a value-driven, social and political process that encompasses a rights-based approach to social change and transformation; it is about mobilizing civil society against human rights violations to ensure that the state is accountable, transparent, ethical and democratic. People centred advocacy seeks to increase participation in the policy making process. By empowering people to advocate on their own behalf, NCAS engages People Centred Advocacy as an effective and sustainable approach to advocacy initiatives throughout India and South Asia. It undertakes programmes for building advocacy capacities of grass-root and marginalised communities, and of other civil society groups, NGOs and support organizations (including donor agencies).
NCAS engages several strategies to empower marginalized communities – advocacy capacity building;  campaign support and networking;  research, documentation and dissemination; media advocacy; and  internships.
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CAPACITY BUILDING

Capacity building involves enhancing the capacities of grassroots activists and support groups at the local, regional, national and international levels, in order to advocate for social justice and strengthen democratic alliances. People centred advocacy is possible only if the local level leaders have the capability and knowledge base to advocate for their communities. Capacity building is thus an action-oriented process of sharing and analyzing life experiences and building up one’s knowledge base.

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A crucial component of the capacity building programe involves conducting capacity building workshops for social justice activists, civil society organizations, social action groups, students, and media professionals. Modules are designed to enhance participants’ capacities in terms of the knowledge, perspectives, and skills of people centred advocacy; they also serve to sensitize outside professionals, such as those in the media, on issues of discrimination, deprivation, and exclusion of poor and marginalized communities.

NCAS has over the years created a niche in capacity building and knowledge management, especially on the themes of livelihood rights, environmental justice, and governance. And while NCAS is a leader in organizing action at the national and state levels, it avoids overruling people’s leadership. To that extent, promotion of people-centric governance is a key strategy of capacity building, focusing on people centred advocacy.

Using community learning movements (CLMs),NCAS enables people at the grassroots level to become political activists. CLM can be summarized as building up of a network of empowered community leaders who can organize and mobilize people to demand their basic rights. Through issue-based capacity building, NCAS seeks to build and support campaigns on adivasi, dalit, and women’s rights, with a final product of strengthening advocacy skills and expanding knowledge of social justice issues.

Each CLM maintains a unique design and is catered to best address the issues selected by the respective communities. CLMs can result in anything ranging from a national advocacy campaign to something as simple as creating an open space for people to discuss their struggles. No matter what the final product, CLMs inform and empower grassroots communities with the necessary skills and knowledge to fight for their human rights.

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RESEARCH

NCAS views research as paramount to all advocacy work. By regularly researching contentious issues in India, NCAS provides the needed publications and materials to educate future activists on issues related to human rights. These publications are circulated throughout marginalized communities so as to empower them with the necessary knowledge to advocate for the fulfillment of their rights. In order to reach all sectors of society, NCAS’ publications appear in many different forms, including policy briefs, report cards, books, and pamphlets; they also appear in many different languages, including English, Hindi, and Marathi.

MEDIA ADVOCACY

NCAS seeks to use media as an alternative advocacy method to raise awareness concerning social justice issues. The media unit at NCAS attempts to bridge the gap between media arts and advocacy by using film and dance as tools to advocate for human rights. Media advocacy, as employed by NCAS, includes the production and distribution of visual and performing arts in order to spread awareness of social justice issues and increase people’s understanding of their human rights.

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Confronting issues such as special economic zones, tribal rights, and land rights,NCAS uses multimedia to inform the general public of contemporary social justice issues in India. Working alongside other outreach methods and information-sharing strategies, media advocacy provides an additional medium through which all people can gain insight concerning their social well being and the challenges faced within India and throughout the Global South.

Media advocacy at NCAS involves:

  • Media workshops and outreach sessions
  • Documentary making
  • Photo documentation
  • Film festivals
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CAMPAIGN SUPPORT

NCAS plays a critical role in co-ordinating, networking and planning campaigns that work collectively with activist groups and people’s movements, especially those within marginalised groups. The campaign support programme lends special attention to legislative advocacy, working with social activists to catalyze social change at the policy level. And while NCAS works on legislative advocacy at the national level, the campaign support program seeks to continue its geographical focus on the central belt of India, especially with the Maharashtra State Legislature.

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The campaign support programme extends support to advocacy campaigns in need of effective intervention for a social justice campaign. The areas of support provided by NCAS include: documenting campaign processes, compiling policy-based publications, sending out action alerts, convening national and regional level consultations, preparing people’s manifestos, interfacing with bureaucrats, expanding networks with other social justice actors, investigating ground-level progress, researching issues, and mobilizing strategic campaign planning inputs. Through campaign support, NCAS strengthens advocacy campaigns and increases the skills of social justice advocates in India.
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NEWS AND EVENTS