The past year has been one of reflection and action, and an important one in the learning cycle of the Public Affairs Centre. As we progressed through the years we had built up a critical mass of work that is now internationally recognized for its value in tracking the process of governance through citizen responses to service delivery. For this we received valuable support from a number of resource agencies and highly motivated individuals and field organizations. At the beginning of this year these lines of support were applied to other emerging issues, and the Centre had now to build upon its reputation to attract project support for key lines of action research and training. To this end, a structured reflection process within the team threw up important ideas for the future of PAC. The expression of these ideas meant that we would have to internally reorganize ourselves to continue being relevant to the governance environment of India and the world.
A first step towards this was taken through the creation of three work teams to reflect the expanding scope of the Centre’s mandate and activities. The Public Policy Research Group has a focus on macro-level policy related issues. The Participatory Governance Research Group focuses on strengthening PAC’s repertoire of survey-led tools and approaches and, to continue innovating new methodologies, primarily focusing on smaller administrative constituencies like urban and rural local bodies. The Citizen Action and Advocacy Support Group, has a focus on strengthening the engagements and interfaces of ordinary citizens with public institutions, and also, to widen and deepen the democratic processes. This restructuring of activity allowed for greater autonomy and flexibility within each work team to identify emerging public issues to work upon, and to seek support from stakeholders in the environment. It has stimulated independent thinking and has provided greater space for staff and others interested in the work of PAC to contribute to new areas of interest and importance.
During this period another major development has been the start of a new programme called the Citizens Against Corruption (CAC) – a partnership endeavour with the Washington based Partnership for Transparency Fund (PTF) that streams technical and financial support to NGOs throughout South Asia to empower communities and citizens to fight corruption through use of RTI and other social accountability tools. This activity grows from the resources of all the work teams of PAC and provides the Centre with the opportunity to walk the talk, to apply its tools and instruments in collaboration with field agencies so that corruption is arrested, and models for policy reform are developed.