Tawa Lama, Stéphanie. 2023. “Hearing the Marginalized: The jansunwai in India.” in The Routledge Handbook of Collective Intelligence for Democracy and Governance. London: Routledge, p. 296–301
Stéphanie Tawa Lama, CSH Head Researcher of “Documenting Democracy: History, Politics, Citizenship” and CNRS Research Director (Political Science) at the Centre d’Etudes Sud-Asiatiques et Himalayennes (Cesah – EHESS/CNRS), has written a book chapter entitled “Hearing the Marginalized: The jansunwai in India” in The Routledge Handbook of Collective Intelligence for Democracy and Governance. The book has been published by the Routledge, London on 19 June 2023.
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When a group of activists and local villagers in Rajasthan shed light on massive embezzlement by the public officials in 1994, they organized a large hearing where citizens with limited access to power could share their grievances with public administrations. This set out to be the first of many jan sunwais – a type of public consultation, in between a community meeting and court hearing – in India on topics like healthcare, municipal budgeting, and violence against marginalized groups. The jan sunwai format has proven to be very effective and transformative in its ability to sensitize audiences, to channel emotions, to educate citizens about their rights, and to stimulate collective mobilization.