Developing Informed Citizens: Apnalaya’s 10-year Vision

Citizenship & Advocacy

COVID-19 and its effects, developed as they did at the turn of the decade, gave everyone an opportunity to pause. To those with the privileges to do so, this created opportunities to reflect and assess journeys, and recalibrate thoughts and priorities for the months and years ahead.

At Apnalaya, we used this opportunity to think about where we would like to be in ten years’ time. The Sustainable Development Goals are intended to be achieved by 2030, and although COVID-19 has thrown many of those plans awry, it was worthwhile to juxtapose our plans alongside the commitments of the sector.

Apnalaya began working in 1973, making 2021 our 48th year as a programme implementer striving for lasting and sustainable social change. From firefighting to providing services to the most marginalized, from running clinics to fill gaps in primary health care to ensuring households have water for meeting daily requirements, we’ve had to do it all. The M East Ward, where most of our work is situated has improved considerably, however, a lot of work is yet to be done.

Our work over the last four decades, the revelation of the systemic fault lines of capitalist structures and the exacerbations of those structures that led to the pandemic assuming proportions of a humanitarian crisis from a public health emergency, have led us to arrive at a few key thoughts –

  • that policies, programmes and schemes of the government need to consider the needs and demands of the urban poor
  • that this invisible group of people, that keep cities running need to have political capital, at city, state and national levels
  • that a holistic framework to empower the urban poor would need an approach that begins by accurately enumerating them, and provides them with adequate, and high-quality entitlements and services

Our 10-year goals are oriented towards developing informed citizens, who will work with the government, creating platforms and support structures for the urban poor and expanding our work into other parts of India using the principle of enumeration to entitlements.

Currently, we’re in advanced talks to take Apnalaya to two more cities in India by the end of 2021. By 2030, we aim to be working in 10 cities.

The last year was difficult. This year, and the next few, look exciting, promising and full of new adventures.


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