Frequently asked questions about Praja.in
What exactly is Praja.in, alternate media or an NGO?
A> We are neither trying to be alternate media, nor yet another NGO. There is some wide and serious space between journalism and activism that we are trying to fill and bridge. Our dream is to create a platform where citizens highlight their local issues, then network with like minded people to evolve possible solutions, and find ways of engaging with local government bodies to get things fixed. How does this system work with media or NGOs?
- From Media - Highlighted issues could be triggered by newspaper reports. Also, Media reports, at times, don't present the full picture.
- To Media - Members could bring media's attention to some local issues.
- From NGOs - Existing NGOs could bring events, projects and proposals to attract or recruit like minded members, or simply promote their cause.
- To NGOs - Members interested in doing more than just highlighting the issues could be directed to relevant NGOs
What exactly does Praja.in do?
A> Praja.in is gearing to be the networking place for active and caring citizens. We are building a platform with Internet based tools to be the breeding ground for modern day and constructive activism. Constructive activism involves knowing, caring and participating, and can be a mix of online and on-ground activities.
I am only interested in discussions, and not on-ground projects. Am I still welcome on Praja.in?
A> Yes, because willingness to highlight and discuss your local issues is the first sure sign that you have the interest. We encourage discussions, provided they are local, fact based and constructively engaging. There will never be any pressure or moral extortion to push you towards volunteering for on-ground projects.
How do you plan to mix the online and on-ground activities?
A> One reality is that to get good participation in on-ground activities, you need a bigger pool of citizens to draw from. Further, many don't realize that sharing and discussing full context is the only way to get more friends and volunteers for your on-ground projects. We have seen many NGOs and individuals who expects volunteers just like that.
From our experience, 2-5% tends to be the conversion rate - if 100 folks say "I will help", 2-5 will end up coming to the event or campaign.
Now, most self-help groups today will work primarily with this on-ground activist set (maximum 5% of the "interested" pool), and not have much for other 95% who have the interest, but couldn't show up often enough. But here, we won't belittle those who prefer discussions. That is because we know and recognize that not everyone is open to sacrificing weekends and evenings on a regular basis to do things on-ground. But, if we have a bigger pool of, say 5000 members, then, any call for "lets do this" should attract 40-50 folks. Every next event might see a different set 40-50 people - but is that a problem? Its not, provided we do these things:
- Be transparent in all activities. Dump all context on the website, so that the next set of people can just pick up from where the last set of people left.
- However, there should be a group of at least 3-4 people who'd be willing to 'lead', which means that they be present at most events for their pet cause.
- There may be virtual ways of helping as well - filing online complaints, doing background research work, sharing past experiences are some examples.
Hope this explains what we are chasing here at praja.in.
But there are so many other self-help groups ...
A> Must clarify once again that we are not trying to be yet another NGO. There are plenty of NGOs and activist groups around, we are not trying to re-create or eclipse any of them or be the umbrella of any sort. We are only trying to provide a transparent, and Internet based platform for existing, or new self help groups. Here is how this platform is different:
- Use Internet to the hilt - share your knowledge, log all your activities, (some day soon) extend all your meetings online etc etc as well.
- No disrespect for those who prefer to discuss but may not be ready (no time, family situation, etc) for on-ground action. Hopefully, with time, the circumstances, or peer pressure from the rest of us will make many convert into "activists"
- Democratic nature - Admins don't push their pet causes. Come find friends for your favourite cause, and if it sticks, and more members join in, we will set you up with the tools on the website. For example, it might be that while a group of people runs the campaign to privatize BMTC (via PIL), another group seeks to keep it public but make it more responsible.
- However, we will do a little moderation for things like foul language, uncivil behavior, and strong arguments backed neither by facts nor by positive or constructive intent.
I am a policy maker / journalist / business, how can I help, or do you have anything for me?
A> Here are some messages for members with special profiles:
- Policy makers - Please get in touch if you want to connect with any of us, or soon-to-be formed "engagement groups" here on praja.in.
- Journalists - We are not here to compete with the newspapers. We feed on you, and direct people to you for more. If you can help drive some publicity for us, that will be great. If you want tighter associations, do contact us.
- Members of existing activist or self-help groups - Praja.in is not trying to eclipse or represent you. We only want to bring all like minded folks in one big virtual hall. Consider making Praja.in your "online" home, that's all.
- Businesses wanting to help (ex: with CSR funds) - We are still working on 'financial' structure for our operations. If you want to help, please contact us, and we will queue you up for later interaction when we finalize our workings.
- Businesses willing to run ads - Same as above. However, do stay in touch.
- All of above - we promise confidentiality of all contact communications.
Hope this explains and answers the most common questions that are asked about praja.in. Comments are most welcome, do help shape and refine this community's thoughts.
How does this platform work? How do I get started?
A> Read this help topic to know more, and to get started on Praja.in
How do you operate, who funds all this?
A> We are in the process of registering as a Society. More details will be published soon, but here is a quick overview. The Society will consist of some donor members who pool in funds to pay for technology and day to day operations of this website. An executive committee of this Society will be governing non-technical behavior (as in, the use) of Praja.in platform.
Are there any vested interests, any big name donors? I want to support this platform, what do I do?
A> There are no dominating big names, no media houses, neither any established NGOs as donors. Donors are all ordinary citizens who see the need for such localized modern day Internet driven citizen networking platform. Donors are currently a closed group, and we add more only by invitation. But we will soon set ourselves to open up to receive support from any registered member.
My Interests User Manual:
1. My Posts/My Comments: Automatically come
2. Friends Posts: Go to the Post you like. Click on Flag User link to check your friend posts.
3. My Interests Posts: To add, go to the post you are interested and click Add favorite content link to add to your interest posts.
4. My Terms: Go to My Praja à My Account & Choose àAll Categories Tab
· All terms of the category vocabulary will be displayed with a corresponding flag. Click on Add Favorite Term and all articles tagged with this term will come under My Terms.
· One can also add to favorite term under the term node display
Ex: To add bus as your favorite term, type http://praja.in/en/tags/bus
& then on top, click Add Favorite Term