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KAM: Citizens’ platform for ‘democratic renewal’ in Meghalaya

About 90 members of the civil society, unions and individuals gathered in Shillong recently to discuss the issues plaguing the state today and to look for ways to take the citizen’s concerns into the electoral arena.

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Shillong: A new citizens’ platform for Democratic Renewals in Meghalaya called “KAM Meghalaya” has been formed for ensuring a collective and participatory space for citizens’ engagement towards a more equitable, inclusive and just Meghalaya

About 90 members of the civil society, unions and individuals gathered in Shillong recently to discuss the issues plaguing the state today and to look for ways to take the citizen’s concerns into the electoral arena.

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“KAM aims to challenge the sense of hopeless cynicism present in the current political climate in the state that has sidelined the values of participatory democracy, accountability and honesty. We must not be forced to choose a lesser evil. We cannot compromise on values of ethics, civility and honesty that we try to instill in our own children,” said Angela Rangad, one of the founding members of KAM.

“The genesis of the political platform emerges from the experiences of people’s struggles across the gamut, from gender justice movements to environmental justice protests, anti corruption and workers’ rights struggles. Challenging and resisting authoritarianism and fundamentalism that infringe on individual and collective rights and that erode the common good is central to the platform’s aim of democratic renewals and just futures,” she said.

With an aim to gather civil society’s voices to intervene in the upcoming state elections, as candidates and voters, KAM proposed the need to identify shared values that are committed to changes that are democratic, pro-people and inclusive. Unity and a commitment to a principled politics of integrity will be needed to challenge the arrangement of power in the state and tilt it toward the people.

KAM released a draft discussion and action document in Khasi and English to identify both the “crisis of democracy and governance” in the state as well as ideas towards “cleaning up the mess”. They also released a website, www.kammeghalaya.in that carries the documents for download as well as an interactive survey through which citizens can voice their concerns and ideas for change.

Rev. Kyrsoibor Pyrtuh, one of the active participants in the creation of the idea of the KAM platform, said, “Many of us have always insisted on a deliberative democracy that believes that no movement for change can exist without engagement with ideas and concerns which arise out of common citizens. But ideas in themselves are not some dry intellectual exercise but have to be rooted in actual struggles and movements to challenge power”.

In a lively discussion moderated by Wanpynhun Kharsyntiew of the Domestic Workers Movement, participants in the gathering representing the cross-section of Meghalaya’s citizenry both in terms of class and ethnicity, engaged with the document and idea of the platform and made many suggestions towards taking KAM forward.

KAM has identified fifteen themes it will be working towards to spur democratic renewals and just futures in the state. 

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