1. Independent People’s Organizations
We have observed that deprived, exploited, poor people are normally unorganized, due to which they don’tunderstand their abilities and strength and that’s why they are unable to change their conditions. Astha, with its deep conviction about people’s strength, feels that until they are organized, they would not be able to recognize and use their collective strength.
2. The Necessity of Women’s Participation and Leadership
Astha believes equally that women’s participation and leadership in the processes of social change are very crucial. Through our experience, we feel that for sustainable development and social change, it is necessary that women participate in the process in leadership roles.
3. Knowledge is Power
Astha believes that knowledge is power, and knowledge comes from teaching and learning, from action / reflection, from analysis of root causes. Once people have knowledge, they can make use of it. Thus, the Astha team has decided that one of our main strategies would be to do extensive training involving sharing knowledge and analyzing problems, working towards an action plan, carrying out the plan and then back together for reflection-on-action. Action-reflection is an effective medium of gaining knowledge.
4. Advocacy for Policy Change
The fourth main pillar of Astha’s work is Advocacy for Policy Change in favor of the poor and deprived sections of the society. It was decided that Astha would focus its attention on bringing necessary amendments in existing laws, policies, schemes and Acts, and acting as a pressure group along with the People’s Organizations, to work for changes in laws, policies, schemes and Acts that are more “pro-poor”.
5. The “Macro” and “Micro” are Linked
Astha focuses on developing an understanding in the People’s Organizations and in the structures of Astha itself, about how the global / national / larger problems, and regional / local situations are connected. Astha also focuses on how, in a democracy, government policies and laws are influenced by the collective action of people, and that people’s organizations have strength that is significant to make the government accountable and answerable to the citizens.
The above five dimensions along with the deep conviction in the strength and capacities of the people have made the dream come true as “Astha”. Astha began its work with commitment towards people and having faith in them. That faith has been confirmed and verified over more than two decades of work.