Common Cause, a registered society, was founded in 1980 by the legendary social activist, H. D. Shourie, to secure redress for the common problems of the people. In its espousal of public causes over three decades, Common Cause has used the instruments of policy advocacy and public interest litigation to good effect.It has played a crucial role in policy formation in the domains of the right to information, consumer protection, municipal taxation and police reforms.Many of the PILs filed by Common Cause have addressed critical dimensions of governance reforms. Notable among these are: ending discrimination in pension entitlements based on the date of retirement, adoption of a transparent and rational method of property taxation, enforcing accountability of political parties, establishment of district consumer courts, institutional framework for combating corruption and promoting probity in public life,measures to curb the rise in the non-performing assets of public sector banks, adoption of a merit-based, transparent procedure for appointment to the office of the Comptroller & Auditor General of India,reforming the system of policing to ensure functional autonomy and public accountability,judicial reforms for expeditious disposal of court cases and liquidation of arrears, and securing the legal rights of construction workers.
Common Cause hasresolved to play a more active role in fighting the cancer of corruption. While there are many issues in the area of corruption that need to be dealt with (e.g., public institutions, police reform, civil services reform, fast track courts, etc.) andthe Governing Council of the Society will, from time to time, decide which issue it wants to engage with, either singly or in collaboration with other organisations, ithas decided that the whole area of “Corruption” needs an “Identity”. Let us explain.
Organisations that are engaged in fighting corruption are many. Some prominent ones are: MazdoorKissan Shakti Sangathan, Parivartan, Transparency International, Association for Democratic Reforms, JanhitManch, Centre for Public Interest Litigation, Campaign for Judicial Accountability & Reforms, etc. Each organisation is more or less engrossed in the immediate task that it has undertaken. There is little synergy, whether in action or effort, among the various organisations. While that per se may be difficult to bring about in the short term (and nor is that the objective of Common Cause), it is important that ALL efforts by all organisations are seen to be additive, so thatthe apathy and sense of hopelessness induced by the commonly held beliefs regarding the invincibility and inevitability of corruption (“Nothing will happen.”, “Our DNA has corruption in it.”) are dispelled. Otherwise, the efforts of many diverse bodies may not achieve the cumulative effect that may be necessary to mobilise and sustain popular support for the campaign against corruption and significantly reduce the extent of the malaise. Let us give an example.
There are perhaps hundreds of organisations fighting the battle against HIV/AIDS, from UNAIDS to various national bodies, NGOs, local and regional organisations, etc. While each of them may have its own agenda and action plan suited to its own resources, there is a world-wide awareness of the scourge of HIV/AIDS. This has partly been achieved by the billions of dollars invested in fighting the disease and partly by the publicity given to the problem. Public participation in the cause has reached such a level that some of the most prominent leaders (political and business) wear the red ribbon (symbol of HIV/AIDS) on their lapels.
Our objective is to design a symbol, a pneumonic, a logo, or other graphics to provide an umbrella symbol for the “War on Corruption”.
The “marketing objective”, if one can put it like that, is that a common symbol, or pneumonic for the war on corruption could achieve the following possible objectives:
1. Spread the awareness of the evil of corruption by being seen often.
2. Companies, professional bodies, communities, and other organisations and individuals may actually use it on their stationery, communication materials, etc. to support the cause.
3. “Visually” unite the efforts of various organisations engaged in the action to oppose and root out corruption.
If many organisations, whether they are engaged in the effort directly or only in spirit, adopt the pneumonic, then increasingly larger numbers of people will start believing in the cause andstart believing that something is happening and this will, hopefully, lead to more people joining the movement or talking about it, much like what has happened with HIV/AIDS -the Red Ribbon is the global symbol for solidarity with HIV positive people and people living with AIDS and it unites the people in the common fight against this disease. The Red Ribbon was created by Visual AIDS, a New York-based charity group of art professionals and created by singer/songwriter Paul Jabara. "I do care" about HIV and AIDS, "I am concerned" about HIV and AIDS, "I do hope" for a cure to stop the suffering, "I do support" those living with HIV, the continuing education of those not infected, those who have lost friends, family members or loved ones to AIDS. This is what the Red Ribbon stands for.
The “advertising” objective of a symbol/ pneumonic for the fight against corruption would be to motivate people, organisations and communities, to join the rallying cry “NO CORRUPTION”, even if it nothing more than wearing a lapel pin or displaying a sticker with the symbol. Like the slogan “FREE TIBET” we see the symbol/pneumonic being used on posters, stickers, car windshields, flags, lapel pins, etc., etc.
While it is outside the purview of this design brief, we would also have a programme of spreading the message of “NO CORRUPTION” through a widespread effort of talking about the evils of corruption to students, teachers, communities, etc.
Our proposed pneumonic or symbol should communicate the commitment:
“I am against corruption”, “We ALL need to work against corruption”, “Support the war on corruption”.
Additionally, we may think of a slogan of not more than three words, which signify the resolve to combat corruption and can easily be translated into many languages.
Specific Design Directions:
The symbol/pneumonic of the fight against corruption would need to have the following attributes:
3. Easy to recognise.
4. Easy to reproduce in print without mutilation.
5. Illustrative of the cause.
6. Flexible enough to be used and reproduced for all manner of applications: stickers, letterheads, flags, pins to be worn on shirts, kurtas and the like.
7. Should be understood by people of different levels of education and from different cultural backgrounds. In other words, the image should not contain any words or numbers.
We would also like to adopt the following policy:
1. Not to list any individual as the creator of the symbol.
2. Keep the image copyright free, so that no individual or organization would profit from the use of the symbol.
3. The symbol should be used as a consciousness raising symbol, not as a commercial or trademark tool.
We would like the symbol of the war on corruption to be a powerful force in the fight to increase public awareness of the evil of corruption and in the lobbying efforts to increase funding and effort for the cause.
If the symbol is widely used, adopted and accepted, we would have been successful in our effort.