Misaal’s is working towards establishing itself as a minority rights resource centre. Through rights based approach Misaal purports enable minority communities in the poorest parts India and South Asia through better access to civic and legal entitlements, justice and information. Further, Misal works to create awareness on democratic processes and encourage inter-group dialogue and understanding, founded on notions of justice, equality and pluralism.
Misaal has three vertices: on-field community empowerment, capacity building and mobilisation; anti-minority hate crime related documentation, legal aid, rehabilitation and advocacy; and research and advocacy on the state of minorities in India and South Asia.
I. Community Empowerment and Capacity Building
Misaal’s entitlement and empowerment work is currently concentrated in 4 states – Haryana, UP, Bihar and MP (http://www.misaal.ngo). Our field staff, mostly women located in rural North India and in areas with high minority concentration, consists of state supervisors, entitlement fellows, Taleem (education), teachers, Rozgaar (livelihood) trainers and legal fellows. Our fellows focus on empowering their communities through basic entitlements related work which enables the community to better access relevant schemes and policies. Our trainers impart vocational skills to adult women (we are in the process of establishing a training centre for only widows in Bhopal) to develop their capacities so that they can participate gainfully in the market. Our teachers use participatory pedagogy and teach school dropouts in multiple batches everyday. They impart basic literacy skills – numeracy and english – to these children. Misaal’s Legal Fellows hold monthly legal aid awareness camps cum clinics in and around areas where we have staff to educate people, especially women, on their rights.
Misaal is in the process of scaling up its work both in terms of new sites and reach.
Firstly, Misaal is moving towards a model of information facilitation centres or Hubs. We are planning to rent small space in communities we work in and equip these with a computer, internet router, printer etc. These spaces will be used as a civic space for the communities around – to be used by youth or community based organisations for trainings and meetings. These spaces will also host Taleem and Rozgaar classes for the communities around. These will be staffed by the Fellow, Teacher and Trainer. The Hub will scale up our engagement in an area by providing a space where communities can come to access information and participate in trainings. In addition to supervising the functioning of the Hub, Fellows will continue their on-field community engagement through regular community meetings (4-5 a month) which they conduct to identify issues and solutions. Our intent is to build capacity and mobilise communities to take action directly through advocacy and campaigns.
Secondly, Misaal engages in empowering communities through easy access to information. Complementing Misaal’s Hub scale up model access to information will be better facilitated by Misaal Haq ka Sathi mobile application. Misaal Haq ka Sathi launched in 2017 uses digital literacy as a conduit to spread awareness on public schemes. Based on the users demographic data – age, gender, domicile, caste etc. it filters relevant information of both central and state based schemes – what the scheme is, nodal authority, documents required to file for entitlements under respective schemes. Currently, Misaal is developing a second version to this mobile app. In addition to updating information on schemes, the new version will include information of basic services (both public and private) when the user enters their exact location (in addition to other demographic stats used in the prior version). These will include hospitals, schools, anganwadis, pharmacies, blood banks, ambulance services etc. The broad themes under which we are surveying for data include – Health, Education, Well Being (Sanitation, Housing, Nutrition etc.) and Women and Child safety. The second version will be designed specifically to cater to areas we work in and for use by women. The app interface will be designed to facilitate use by non literate women in domestic space and the information will be made available in audio format also, which can be downloaded and used later.
Misaal’s staff and volunteers are agents of change that help us engage with local communities in an organic way. This allows Misaal to act as a platform whereby communities are enabled in a sustainable way.
II. State of Minorities in India and South Asia
Misaal produces concrete research around minority rights in India and South Asia. It anchors the South Asia Collective (SAC) and produces a report called South Asia State of Minorities Report every two years. The first edition of this report came out in 2016 (http://sacollective.misaal.ngo) and the next edition will be released end of 2018. Towards that Misaal has been coordinating with researchers and research institutes across Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and India. Each country section will include a chapter on the state of minorities in that country, followed by 3 smaller section: Case Study of a civil society good practice; Profile of a disadvantaged minority group; and section of events in 2017-18.