Sunday, January 4, 2009

Prizes for Panchayats– using orkut to reward grassroots innovation

We here at are excited to announce a contest that we hope many of you orkuteers are able to get involved in: the Gram Panchayat Puraskar (GGPP). For those of you who don't already know, Panchayats were Mahatma Gandhi's original vision for a free India – an India made up of thousands of "little Republics" where people meet their needs through self-reliance. Today, panchayats are responsible for implementing development programs. They often create positive change at the grassroots level, but we think that their success stories aren't always as well known as they should be.

To help celebrate innovative panchayats and encourage more innovation in local governance throughout India, we've created the first Gram Panchayat Puraskar (GGPP). We'll reward the top five panchayats in two states, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, with a cash prize of Rs.5 lakhs (approximately $10,000 USD) which they can use to do more good in their communities.

The prize will be awarded in one of six areas: education, health and nutrition, water supply, rural infrastructure, rural electrification, and resource mobilization. The winning payanchat must include a wide variety of social and income groups, share information with villagers, respond to citizen feedback, and track the quality of programs.

Think your gram panchayat has what it takes to win? Sign up for the contest now and tell us why! To enter, you can either visit the contest website at, or pick-up an application at your district or block panchayat office in Karnataka or Andhra Pradesh. The contest is only open for applications through January 25, 2009 though, so don't waste any time!

Wanna learn more? Be sure to check out the official GGPP page that we've created for this contest, and of course join the GGPP orkut community. With our orkut community, you can ask questions, read related news, and most importantly, get to know other people interested in fostering social change in their local region.

Check out what Mr. Mani Shankar Aiyar, the Union Minister of Panchayat Raj had to say about the competition:

Hope to see you on orkut and hear about all of the great innovations that your panchayats have come up with soon!

Posted by Salimah Samji, Program Manager, Inform & Empower and Meryl Stone, Senior Associate, Inform & Empower,
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