The past seven years of my tenure as Director of the Public Affairs Centre has seen the organisation scale several new heights. In denomination and in terms of contribution, PAC is now considered within the fraternity of think tanks that promote and support evidence-based policy design, formulation and implementation. This is apt recognition of the leaps that PAC has made in the ¬conceptual, strategic and operational revision of its primary directions of effort. Each course correction in our path demanded specific skills and innovation to enable PAC to take advantage of conditions in the extant environment. The young PAC team has responded to this challenge, picking its way through minefields of competing ideologies and administrative choices, and identifying those lines of research and action that genuinely promote the mission of PAC – to place the citizen at the centre of governance in a democracy, and to characterize and amplify the voice of the citizen through carefully designed instruments such as the Citizen Report Card.
Social accountability tools by themselves measure and calibrate the essence of public experience with the delivery of goods assured and entitled under the Constitution to all citizens. The Centre had determined, in a series of workshops and meetings with experienced and concerned citizens of the country, the key sectors in which social accountability needed to be expressed cogently in order that those who populate governance structures were made aware of the many potentials as well as weaknesses of their systems and work processes. It was inevitable that those at the PAC acquire skill sets in specific domains to enable them to maintain a higher quality of dialogue with those in power and administration. To this end, PAC invested in deepening its knowledge base in five specific thematic loci – urban resilience, water security, green economy, employment generation, and vulnerability.
Each of PAC’s thematic groups have set themselves the onus of proof of effectiveness through the identification of key concerns, areas of research, on-ground validation of ideas through pilots, and the development of networks of concern in these topics among other think tanks, academic researchers, and civil society organisations and activists. PAC sees itself as a primary stimulus for further research and action among widening spirals of citizens concerned with better governance and responsible administration.
This Annual Report presents the several ways in which the Public Affairs Centre has commenced with the expression of “Strategy 2020” in the thematic areas. PAC works best with the continued support and goodwill of citizens in all spheres of thinking, investigation and doing. I hope that the ideas expressed here will motivate more public support for citizen voice in the important task of nation redesign and rebuild in a time of shifting priorities and political stances for our country.
I would also like to use this opportunity to thank our many resource supporters – state and national governments, private foundations, bilateral agencies, and the Think Tank Initiative – who have allowed us to explore unchartered territories in the quest for good governance. The past seven years has been an exciting journey of unexpected stimuli and unconventional response that has enlivened our work and results.
-R Suresh (Director)