KICS Manifesto
KICS Manifesto
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State and Drought
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April 2007

The Question of Mandate of KICS


We have to view civil society groups as dynamic bodies. They draw from their own experience, respond to changing environment and develop mechanisms to renew themselves. It is not suggested all civil society groups do this. The nature of the group defines the extent to which it struggles with its tasks, and continuously makes itself relevant.

It is fascinating to reflect on the beginnings of the civil society groups (we are not talking of the humdrum bubbles which appear in big numbers at the drop of a hat and disappear as quickly, but the serious ones, which only concern KICS anyway). I invoke here an expression, which others have been employing, in terms of which the relevant civil society groups mark out themselves : social entrepreneurship. This should mean using opportunities in a given situation to push a community or society beyond what appear its binding invariables. At the inception, often social entrepreneurship is driven by powerful instincts, rather than by full clarity ; what is apparent is more a dynamic of drive, on day one.

During the initial period of the existence of such a civil society group, it is on probation, as it goes through its experimentation, launched within the opportunities available. This is the period when it may not be absolutely clear whether opportunities around which work may be initiated would lead to something fulfilling. Some forays would be unproductive but would nonetheless help define vision, as well as the mandate that would in future settle what falls in the group’s purview, and what, not.

Until that critical time, what is the mandate of the group ? I would say the overall objectives as articulated for a start by the initiators lay down the mandate of the group. A stage of the work would be reached, sooner or later, when the initial enunciations become less important than what experience teaches. I was part of an organization (of importance) which has gone through such a process, and it finally came to a point where it could establish a quasi-juridic group, to which questions whether something would fall within the mandate of the organization or not could be referred, and this group’s findings would be binding (more or less).

In our instant case, when KICS is still going through its probation, the enunciations of the initiators, I submit, would be still important to decide whether something falls within KICS mandate or not. What are these enunciations ? That civil society’s experiments, based on pro-people tilt, could be cobbled into something wholesome that could be an alternative development paradigm ; that advocacy with the state becomes that much more meaningful if what is advocated on behalf of KICS is projected as part of something holistic rather than as a miniscule ; that KICS has to scan, progressively, serious civil society experiments to arrive at this wholesomeness ; that in the interim, KICS should
inform itself on the way policies are formulated by the establishment, examining the strengths and chinks of the establishment ; and that KICS should gear itself to aggressively project its viewpoint to good effect at the opportune moment.

In that sense, policy discussions are very much in the Mandate of KICS. We cannot shut KICS off the policy cogitations of the state while we laboriously complete our scanning of civil society work across the country (or even abroad) to perfect our vision.