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MAKE YOUR VOICES HEARD! BREAK THE CULTURE OF SILENCE!
By John Tharakan
Hyderabad, Mar. 24. The 22nd of March 2014 witnessed different voices merging together as the people's voice at the Hyderabad Press Club. This happened at the release of the people's manifesto by children and the representatives of various disadvantaged groups. During the same consultation, Mr. K.R. Venugopal, retired Principal Secretary to three Prime Ministers, released the 'Civil Society Review' of 9 years of UPA I and II. Interestingly this initiative was taken in the backdrop of and as a challenge to the various political parties vying with one another to release their respective manifestos to garner the people's votes.
A collage of photos at the release of Andhra Pradesh People`s Manifest
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During the months leading up to the Elections 2014, Wada Na Todo Abiyan, has been trying to mobilise people of about 250 Lok Sabha constituencies, across 22 states and union territories to make the people understand if the Parties kept their promise to the people.

In Andhra Pradesh 7 constituencies were selected and each area specialised on the aspirations of one disadvantaged group to make the people's manifesto. Vijayanagaram had a general manifesto, Paderu saw the Tribal Manifesto, and Amalapuram had the Dalit Manifesto. Guntur gave voice to the Minorities, Nalgonda to the Differently-Abled, Mahaboobnagar Manifesto reflected the voices of women. Finally today children voiced the plight of orphans among them.

The disadvantaged people are aware that our democracy is only a representative democracy where they get a chance to vote once in 5 years. After the elections, those who get elected then work for their own interests. The People's Manifestos are efforts at letting people's realities define national priorities. This can happen only if people voice their needs. People's manifestos amplify people's voices. Each group of disadvantaged people assert that they too want a better life. They want to hold the government accountable to its promise to end poverty, social exclusion and discrimination.

People's manifesto and the manifestos of different disadvantaged groups will be shared with all the candidates and political parties contesting Lok Sabha elections 2014.  The National People's Manifesto is being released in New Delhi on 27th March 2014. The intention of the organisers is to advocate people's agenda in the manifestos of political parties. People want the democracy in India to be a participatory democracy, with the people defining their priorities. This cannot be left to those holding power any more.

Fr Thomas Pallithanam, on behalf of Wada Na Todo Abiyan and PARA, along with Dalit Bahujan Shramik Union and Sakshi Human Rights Watch, took the initiative to organise this programme.
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