As part of a project entitled Leaders’ Platform, Swaniti Initiative, with the support of the British Deputy High Commission, Kolkata, organised a daylong roundtable discussion on development and good governance for Members of Parliament on August 28, 2014 in Kolkata.
Swaniti Initiative is a non-partisan organisation that works with elected representatives on issues of health, education, gender, and livelihood to deliver developmental solutions in grassroots India. Swaniti’s young 8-member team, which includes graduates of Harvard, Oxford, Stanford, IIT and IIM, is currently working with over 80 Members of Parliament from across India.
The objective of the Kolkata roundtable was to deliver constituency-specific research and solutions on development issues to MPs and to create a platform where MPs can share their experiences of bringing development to their constituencies. The honourable Members of Parliament who participated in the session were Dinesh Trivedi, P D Rai, Professor Sugata Bose and Professor Rajeev Gowda.
The first half of the day was dedicated to a closed-door discussion between MPs and Swaniti researchers. The morning session aimed to tackle key development issues faced by MPs in their constituencies – such as “smooth school-to-work transitions for youth” and “green job creation” – through knowledge-based support and inputs from sector experts. This session gave MPs and experts an opportunity to exchange views, understand each others’ concerns, and work together to come up with innovative solutions to common development-related challenges. Sector experts who participated in the session include Manoj Srivastava (IAS - Bihar Cadre), Prof. Joyashree Roy (IPCC Lead Author) and Dr. S P Gon Chaudhuri (solar energy expert and Ashden Award winner).
The second half of the day featured a public session jointly organised by Swaniti Initiative, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the British Deputy High Commission, Kolkata. The title of the interaction was “Ushering Good Governance and Sustainable Development in India: The Role of an MP”. Scott Furssedonn-Wood, British Deputy High Commissioner, Kolkata, delivered the opening remarks, after which he moderated a panel discussion featuring Dinesh Trivedi, Professor Sugata Bose, P D Rai and Prof. Rajeev Gowda. The panel discussion was followed by a lively interaction during which audience members had a chance to ask the MPs questions on their responsibilities and their vision for the development of their constituencies. The event also gave MPs an opportunity to have a open and frank discussion with the audience on some of the challenges they face in their day-to-day jobs. The public session was well-attended – the audience included young entrepreneurs, members of the media, civil society activists, industry representatives and students.
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