Advocacy for changes in the laws and practices of the State as they impact the lives and livelihoods of the poor in India is a key aspect of the work of Mahatma Gandhi Seva Ashram. This advocacy takes several forms and operates at several levels: People`s advocacy, State and National advocacy and International advocacy.
People’s advocacy is the effort to influence public opinion by using direct action at the grassroots level and media coverage of that grassroots action.
Many forms of such grassroots action have evoked in the history of MGSA. This work begins in cadre building camps, where leaders are made aware of different advocacy techniques. Some of these include:
- Collecting grievances as a way to show the quantum of landlessness and other problems in rural areas of given in public hearings.
- Working with the media to communicate the appropriate messages especially in rallies, public hearings, sit-ins, and other social actions.
- Sending and collecting letters to politicians at state and national level.
- Sponsoring and publicizing studies which show the quantum of land being distributed, the forest land and other relevant issues. Developing people-based policies to give to the government as a basis for discussion through conferences at the state and national level.
State and National Advocacy
Advocacy at the State and National level builds on and continues the impetus of grassroots advocacy.
Activists from MGSA engage in a number of activities to translate the grassroots` vision into the state and national discourses:
- Writing directly to political leaders about needed policy initiatives.
- Developing State-level consultations and encouraging dialogue about policy changes with intellectuals, politicians and government officials.
- Developing National-level Policy reform: for example, having the government hold the Land Reforms Council and initiate action on land reform.
- Monitoring Forest Rights Acts to ensure that distribution is taking place in a fair manner.
- Developing and promoting 12 Issues corresponding to different Acts that help to promote pro-poor laws and policies.
- Writing letters to the Prime Minister of India on supporting land reform for the poor and the non-violent social actions of MGSA.
- Supporting volunteers to come to India to participate in the Jan Satyagraha 2012 March.
- Working with the media and political leaders in one’s own country.
- Sending financial support to the March.