John Samuel has around 25 years of experience and expertise in strengthening democratic governance, public policy advocacy, human rights and sustainable development in India and globally. His work has combined policy research, advocacy capacity building, institution building, strategic leadership and social mobilization across the world. He is an International Consulting Advisor to the UNDP and other international development organisations. He has served as the Head of Global Programme on Governance Assessments, and has been the Global Democratic Governance Advisor at UNDP Headquarters, New York and UNDP Oslo Governance Centre, Oslo. He was the International Director of ActionAid, Bangkok, leading its global thematic work on Just and Democratic Governance and heading the Asia-Pacific region. He helped to establish National Centre for Advocacy Studies (NCAS) and was formerly the Executive Director here.
He is currently also the President of the Institute for Sustainable Development and Governance in Trivandrum , Kerala and Bodhigram Community College in Kerala and serves on the boards of several national and international organisations. He has helped to initiate and establish several advocacy and research organizations and civil society alliances, including Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability (CBGA), Centre for Communication and Development Studies (CCDS), Open-space network of young people, Asian Media forum, International Social Watch and GCAP (Global Call to Action against Poverty). He has published extensively on issues related to people-centred advocacy, democratic governance and civil society.
Jagadananda presently leads the Centre for Youth and Social Development (CYSD). He demitted the office as the State Information Commissioner, Odisha to advance the Right to Information (RTI) agenda in the State in August 2013 and was a member of the State Planning Board of Odisha, following his active campaigning for people-centric decentralized planning. He is also the President of the National Social Watch (NSW). In 2008, he was a Member of the Committee on State Agrarian Relations and the Unfinished Task in Land Reforms formed by the Union Ministry for Rural Development, Government of India. In 2005, he was offered a senior visiting fellowship at CIVICUS-World Alliance for Citizen Participation. He worked on the issues of legitimacy, transparency and accountability within civil society at the Hauser Centre for Non-profits at the Harvard University, Cambridge, USA. His publication ‘Civil Society Legitimacy and Accountability’ is available in French, Spanish, Arabic and English languages.
Keerti is the State Programme Coordinator of Mahila Samakhya, Bihar. She is a women and Dalit rights activist, development professional and trainer and has been involved in advocacy, research and training on a wide range of socio-legal issues such as domestic violence, sexual harassment at work place, adverse sex-ratio, Panchayati Raj, PESA, FRA, MNREGA, Right to Education, Child Rights, etc. for the last fifteen years. Previously, she has worked with ActionAid Association, Socio Economic Development Trust, National Centre for Advocacy Studies, Ambedkar Adhyasan of Pune University and Secretariat of the World Social Forum- Mumbai. She has also taught Economics at Maeer’s MIT College, Pune.
Asha Ramesh is a gender and development activist. She has held a number of prestigious positions, such as Director, Policy and Partnerships with WaterAid, Senior prog officer Christian Aid, New Delhi, Director- Rights Based Programmes, Centre for World Solidarity, Hyderabad and Research Associate, National Institute of Advanced Studies, a premier Research Institution in Bangalore. She was the National Co-ordinator for National Alliance of Women (NAWO), New Delhi. She was a subject matter specialist on the issue of, ‘Women’s Political Participation’ in the Coordination Unit for Preparations of the 4th World conference of women, held in Beijing. She also worked with Joint Women’s Programme, Bangalore and New Delhi and with Multiple Action Research Group in New Delhi. As a women’s rights research activist she did a study on the Devadasi system in 1981, which led to the Government of Karnataka introducing the legislation prohibiting the Devadasi Practice in 1982. She was an expert Committee Member of the National Commission of Women, GOI, during the early 2000s. She has worked on several projects concerning gender mainstreaming and evaluation of involvement of women in politics and her study on local governance has been published “33 1/3 Reservation Towards Political Empowerment”. She is a member of the All India Association of Women’s Studies , associate member of the National Institute of Advanced Studies ( Bangalore) and on the governing board of a couple of women’s organizations.
Advaita Marathe is a Gender and Women’s Rights Consultant and Trainer who was trained as a lawyer. She was initiated into the development sector with a desire to use law for social change. The focus of her work has always been women’s rights and gender across various sectors and has accumulated experience of working from the grassroots to national level on various issues affecting women. She worked with violence intervention centre based in Delhi before joining the Internship in Public Advocacy at NCAS. She later revived the Mahila Swaraj Abhiyan a network based in Gujarat that works on gender and governance. She has also worked with Oxfam India as the Thematic Lead on Gender Justice. She has recently joined UNICEF Office for Madhya Pradesh as a State Consultant in the Child Protection section. She is currently based in Ahmedabad.
Amitabh Behar is currently the Executive Director of the National Foundation for India (NFI). He is also the Global Co-chair of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty and the National Convener of the Social Watch Coalition India. Amitabh was earlier the Executive Director of NCAS. He works on advocacy, networking, coalition building and campaigning, particularly on issues of governance and civil society from the perspective rights and justice.
Bhanwar initiated in 1995 a movement for rights on forestland in Udaipur region of South Rajasthan. 25000 tribals have been associated with this movement and have been continuously struggling since 1977 for entitlements of rights (food, land, health, education) . He has served the community by organizing them on issues of livelihood, justice, survival and the right to live with dignity. Special focus of his work has been lobbying, advocacy, networking, planning of issue based campaigns, promoting collective leadership. He has been associated with the NREGA campaign from its inception. Bhanwar is also one of the Fellows of the Advocacy Institute, Washington DC.
Satya Babu received his M.A. in Sociology before forming ‘Literary Meet’, a forum for young writers in Anantapur and publishing 18 books on Telugu writings. He helped form Andhra Pradesh Vyvasaya Cooleela Samakhya and is the Director of the Centre for Rural Studies and Development, an organization working on issues of dalit, women, land, labour, drought, and NREGS in Andhra Pradesh.
Enakshi is a human rights activist, development researcher and trainer who has been involved in research, advocacy and training, nationally and internationally, on a wide range of socio-legal issues such as development-induced displacement, housing rights, unorganized labour and issues concerning women and children. Since co-founding HAQ: Centre for Child Rights, New Delhi, in 1998, she has been working in focused manner on children’s rights. This includes the areas of children and governance and child protection, which include issues such as child trafficking and violence, abuse and exploitation, juvenile justice and right to housing and shelter amongst other things. The work undertaken by HAQ: Centre for Child Rights in the area of children and governance, particularly related to Budget for Children, was first of its kind in the country. She works with and supports children who are victims of violence and those who have been unfortunate enough to come in conflict with law. She was awarded the Ashoka Fellowship in recognition her work and has several books and publications to her credit.
Razia Patel is an activist and Field researcher working on issues related with Muslim community and women. She has completed Masters in Politics and Ph.D. from Pune University. She is currently working as Head, Minority cell, Centre for Educational Studies, Indian Institute of Education, Pune. She was awarded “The Times fellowship” in 1994 and K K Birla Fellowship in 1998. Having completed many research projects at IIE , Pune, she has read Papers at several international , national conferences / seminars regarding educational status of Muslim community , women and adolescent education. She has functioned as a Member of Working Groups/Task Forces of Government of India, Planning Commission for 10th , 11th and 12th Five Year Plans . She has been a member of the High Level Committee on Status of Women in India , HRD Ministry and also a Member, Mahila Samakhya. She has participated in various International networks and Forums at Egypt , Geneva , Vienna , USA , Bangaladesh , China and India. She has won awards by various organizations in acknowledgement of contribution in education and social work amongst marginalized community and women.