The 21st Deshodaya meeting in Kilinochchi.
I went for a lunch meeting with Dr. Vinya Ariyaratne of Sarvodaya. He asked me if I wanted to tag along to see some of their work in Kilinochchi and I said OK. It’s quite encouraging to see. Sarvodaya supports over 15,000 village in Sri Lanka to support themselves. Of those villages, 3,000 have attained Grama Swarajjya status, which is a specified level of development. What Sarvodaya is doing now is trying to knit these developed movements into a national force. A parallel Parliament, of sorts.
Deshodaya is a new sort of National Assembly. This is a representative body which is actually a sort of alternate democratic system. I quote:
The Sarvodaya Movement believes that the existing political and economic systems have failed to improve the living conditions of the people in the past and that the situation is unlikely to change in the future… Instead, Sarvodaya is persistently pursuing its resolve to evolve a genuinely democratic political system that would provide opportunities for people at grassroots level also to participate directly in the decision making process of the Government.
Which actually sounds pretty… evolutionary. But if anyone can do it Sarvodaya can.
I think the point here is that whatever democracy we have has gotten short-circuited somewhere and people need to take power into their own hands. To that end they seem to be working on a parallel representative body – one without legislative or executive power – but if enough people get together that is power. We’ve also discussed training and embedding geeks proficient in social media with these assemblies, to leverage those voices online.
I think the assembly in Kilinochchi was the 21st Deshodaya meeting – these are meetings which have happened in Batti, Mannar, Trinco, Nuwara Eliya, etc. There were people from the south brought north for this one, and I presume the opposite is true as well. I think it’s very promising. Perhaps you should also get involved.