INFORMATION DIGEST №57
Markers of Civil Society Development
"E-government" provides additional services to public and businesses
Fabulous magical symbols of the East
Markers of Civil Society Development
Building a democratic state with a steadily growing economy, where the core value are people, their rights, interests and freedom, has gained an irreversible and progressive nature in Uzbekistan. We can already feel the real outcomes of Uzbekistan’s own model of development, a key component of which is as phased implementation of the principle ‘From a strong state to a strong civil society’.
The Reporting Conference of the Independent Institute for the Monitoring the Formation of Civil Society (IIMFCS) on qualitative and quantitative changes in development of civil society in Uzbekistan mentioned about domestic achievements in the development of civil society. The broad dialogue with the participation of 140 people – members of the Legislative Chamber and the Senate of the Oliy Majlis, IIMFCS experts, government and community organizations, the leading research and educational institutions, international organizations, such as UNDP, OSCE, USAID, UNESCO, UNICEF as well as foreign experts and the media – allowed to inform the general public and representatives of foreign expert-analytical community about the activities of the IIMFCS in 2012. The participants also discussed the state and prospects of the development of civil society in Uzbekistan.
Civil institutions are actively involved in addressing important political, social, economic and spiritual challenges, raise the legal awareness of citizens. Uzbekistan carries out a consistent policy to enhance their role and importance in the process of democratization and modernization.
A solid normative framework
To regulate the relationship between the state and society, and to create the necessary guarantees of citizens' participation in the affairs of the state and the society, a solid legal framework is created, which opens up new possibilities for human self-realization. The key document that defined the goals, objectives and content of the work in this direction is the Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan. The Basic Law provides the rights and lawful interests of public associations, and also provides them with equal legal conditions for participation in public life. Besides, the government adopted more than 200 laws governing relations in this area. All this has strengthened assurance of the activity of civil society institutions, consolidated their efforts and resources in addressing social issues.
“The presidential resolution dated June 23, 2005, on measures to promote development of civil society in Uzbekistan has become a significant impetus for strengthening the social activity of civil society,” said Damir Sidikov, member of the Senate of the Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan, deputy chairman of the Parliamentary Commission for management of assets of the Public Fund for Support of NGOs and other civil society institutions in the Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan. “Another basic legal act is the 2008 Joint Resolution of the Kengashes of the Legislative Chamber and the Senate of the Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan on measures to strengthen support of NGOs and other civil society institutions. A policy document adopted in November 2010 was the Concept of intensifying democratic reforms and forming civil society in the country. As part of its implementation, consistent efforts to increase the participation of institutions of civil society in the state and public construction are undertaken in the country.”
To support the initiative of institutions of the civil society a Public Fund for Support of NGOs and other institutions of the civil society under the Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan, as well as the Parliamentary Commission for the Management of its Funds were established. During 2008-2012, over 21 billion soums were directed to the implementation of social projects of civil society through grant competitions, subsidies and social placement of orders.
Active participation in the development of civil society in the country takes IIMFCS. The Institute has been studying the progress of democratic reforms and changes in the socio-political life of the country. By the way, the results of its monitoring show more authority and importance of institutions of the civil society, to strengthen their role and importance in addressing pressing social, economic and socio-political issues. In this case, the stable growth of civic consciousness, political and legal culture of the population, especially young people is clear. All this is an essential condition for building of a strong civil society in the country.
NGOs gain momentum
Nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations play a key role in the development of civil society. If at the beginning of independence of the country there were 95 NGOs, by 2013 their number exceeded 6,000. In the list of the most popular and active NGOs there are such associations as the Fund Forum, the Forum of Socially Responsible Citizens of Uzbekistan, the Council of Trade Unions Federations, funds Nuroniy, Soghlom Avlod Uchun, Sen Yolghiz Emassan and many others.
The number of NGOs that participated and won in grant competitions of public funds has greatly increased. If in 2011, 122 NGOs received the fund’s grants, in 2012 they already had more than 160. Accordingly, the amount of grant funds available for the implementation of social projects increases. According to statistics, if in 2009, 444.6 million soums were allocated, in 2012 this figure had already reached 2.300.4 million soums. As a consequence, the number of regional NGOs involved in addressing the pressing issues in the field has increased, the number of which, compared with the previous year, increased 2.2 times. At the same time, more than 300 NGOs took part in the development of the governmental program of social and economic development, and were subsequently incorporated into it as performers. In this case, 64 paragraphs out of 87 of the national program Year of the Family were implemented with the direct NGO participation. These figures show not only the growing promotion of civic initiatives by the Government, but also the growing role of NGOs in the management of the state and society.
The participants noted the high activity of some NGOs that have won public support. Facilitate the activities of NGOs has now organized in 2005 the National Association of NGOs of Uzbekistan (NANNOUz). Today, its membership includes more than 400 public organizations. Association has created an effective system of organizational, financial and material support to its members, working to consolidate the efforts of NGOs in the implementation of social projects and programs. Another largest NGO is the Women's Committee of Uzbekistan. Its establishment was initiated by NGOs and supported by the president in 1991.
“We have now an effective mechanism to support women, protect their rights and legitimate interests,” said Dilbar Alimjanova, head of the Women's Committee of Uzbekistan. “In the list of priorities of our NGOs there are questions to ensure full participation of women in political, social, economic, and cultural life of the country, their spiritual and intellectual growth. The Ecology Movement of Uzbekistan can be called among active NGOs, which is specializing in environmental, health, and increase environmental awareness. It is important to note that this NNO is a leader in the implementation of public control over the implementation of the legislation in this area. Today its units operate in all regions of the country and integrate potential of 125 local environmental NGOs and 130 NGOs specializing in the protection of public health. The Ecology Movement of Uzbekistan launched a hotline, which received 335 complaints about pollution of the environment during the past year. Public and local authorities strengthen cooperation with the Ecology Movement.”
The 2007 law of the Republic of Uzbekistan on guarantees of activity of non-governmental organizations gave an impulse to the dynamic development of NGOs in the system of civil society institutions, to maintain their real independence, which recognized the basis for effective support to the NGOs by the government, their rights of access to information and protection from unlawful decisions of the state bodies.
New opportunities for the media
An indicator of the development of civil society in any country is existence of independent media. In Uzbekistan, the first years of independence, the independent media have legal guarantees of their activities in the form of the law "On Mass Media", "On Protection of Journalist Professional Activities", "On Guarantees and Freedom of Access to Information" and etc.
“The adoption in 2002 of principles and guarantees of freedom of information has importance for the right of everyone to freely and easily access and use information and data protection and security of individuals, society and the state,” said Ruzmat Safayev, deputy director general of the Uzbek Press and Information Agency. “The presidential resolution on additional tax benefits and preferences to further develop the media has not only opened up new opportunities for the full development of the media, but also made them active participants in the public control of the organs of state authorities and administration.”
In order to implement the presidential initiatives designated in the congratulations to the Press and Media Day (June 27, 2012), the IIMFCS has established a system work on the preparation of quarterly reviews and critical analyzes of the regional print media and their subsequent introduction to the Creative Union of Journalists of Uzbekistan. As a result of their review, the central media publish quarterly updates on the most relevant and effective materials.
As in other sectors and industries, social structures that support the work of journalists is also successfully functioning in the country in a systematic manner, contributing to the development of independent media, including electronic media-independent structures. Among such organizations – the Creative Union of Journalists, NAEMM, the Public Fund for Support and Development of Independent Print Media and News Agencies of Uzbekistan. Creative competitions held annually for journalists has important role in recognition and evaluation of journalists.
The Public Fund of the Parliament provides a substantial support to non-state print and electronic media, which from year to year increases amount of grant funds to support media development. Thus, if 26.6 million soums were allocated in 2009, in 2012 the total figure was 664.2 million soums.
As a result, the study of IIMFCS in information sphere shows an increase in the number of analytical and critical materials. In particular, analysis of 200 of the most important regional, district and city newspapers shows a trend to increase by the end of 2012 the number of such publications. Thus, in the first quarter of 2012 the number of such materials was 63, by the end of the year the number increased to 321. At the same time, the number of materials on the basis of publications, which state and economic bodies had been introduced has increased.
A centuries-old social institution
Today there are about 10,000 citizens' assemblies, which are involved in the activities of the entire population. If at the beginning of the independence the institution was performing two tasks, today “mahalla” performs over 30 functions of socio-economic nature, which had previously been the responsibility of local authorities.
The adoption in 1993 of the law on local self-governance and its new version six years later was important to strengthen and develop the institution of Mahalla. In 2004, the Law of the Republic of Uzbekistan on elections of chairman (Elder) of citizens' gatherings and his/her advisers was adopted. National charity fund Mahalla was established, providing technical, information and advice, logistical support to organs of self-governance. It also provides awareness and education work on strengthening institutions of self-governance, bringing in the minds of peoples of such values as compassion, understanding, good neighborliness.
Mahalla plays an important role today in development of private entrepreneurship and family business, employment and the creation of new jobs. So, 633,000 new jobs were created with participation of organs of self-governance of citizens in 2012.
An important activity of bodies of self-government of citizens is providing targeted social support to socially vulnerable groups - social benefits and financial assistance to needy families.
During 2013 the Institute jointly with the Mahalla Fund plans to continue to conduct regional workshops for chairmen and responsible secretaries of citizens' gatherings, religious education and spiritual and moral education consultants, heads of public assembly Mahalla Posboni aimed at increasing the level of their knowledge and improving skills to meet challenges faced by bodies of self-government of citizens.
Under parliamentary control
Parties, as institutions of institutions of civil society, to play an important role in the democratization of state power and administration. The political parties are represented in all representative bodies on the ground. Under the law, a political party with the principle sources of the number of seats in elections for the lower house of parliament, has the right to nominate a candidacy of Prime Minister of the Republic of Uzbekistan, as well as to express a vote of no confidence. The role of political parties in local councils of people's deputies of the appointment of governor and the city of Tashkent was greatly enhanced.
As a consequence, the analysis of party groups’ activities in the regional representative bodies for 2011-2012 indicates increasing of their activities in addressing socio-economic issues, in the implementation of parliament control over the activities of bodies of the executive power. To implement these goals, members of each political party widely use the right of deputy's inquiry. Thus, in 2012 compared to the previous year there was an increase in the number of parliamentary inquiries by 33.2%. Also, deputy party associations have more actively used in the regional representative bodies the practice of hearing reports of the officials on the status of the decision in socio-economic issues in the implementation of the Government programs. For instance, if in 2011, hearing reports of officers were initiated only by deputy party associations of UzLiDeP and People's Democratic Party, in 2012, this practice was used by all political parties. Last year, reports of 50 officials were heard, which is more than three times higher than in 2011.
In 2013, the Institute in cooperation with the Central Election Commission and political parties plan to conduct a series of regional training seminars and round tables with election officials, political parties, members of local councils on the issues of organization of campaigns, providing the necessary conditions for sharp debates, candidates’ competition at elections.
Civic consciousness and law culture
The participants noted that the conference has become a dialogue platform, where another important, complex issue – the development of civic consciousness and improving the legal culture in society – was discussed as a keynote, which is important in the long-term goals for state reforming.
A significant contribution to this process is done by the National Vocational Training Program, presidential decrees on improvement of legal education and political and legal culture, training and retraining, promotion of human rights in society.
A large-scale work in this area is made by the Interagency Council created in 2011, which coordinates the work of state bodies on legal propaganda and education. An active part in this work is done by nongovernmental agencies, which indicate a significant intensification of the civil initiative, readiness and special qualification in matters of justice, ability to use informal mechanisms to defend their rights and interests. Currently, Uzbekistan is working on the draft of the national program to enhance legal culture in society, aimed at radically improving legal education in the country, promotion of legal knowledge in the society. A broad participation of institutions of civil society is anticipated in its implementation.
After a thorough discussion of all the relevant issues, as well as taking into consideration the previous experience, participants exchanged their views and made proposals aimed at further improvement of civil institutions. The conference aroused great interest among the participants. The meeting was held in a spirit of constructive dialogue. (Source: Uzbekistan Today Newspaper).
"E-government" provides additional services to public and businesses
The process of developing an "electronic government", including the widespread introduction of interactive public services to the population and legal entities, is underway in Uzbekistan.
This was the topic of press conference, organized by the State Committee of communication, information and communication technologies of the Republic of Uzbekistan at the National Press Center of Uzbekistan.
At a government meeting dedicated to the socio-economic development of the country in 2012 and key priorities of economic program for 2013, President Islam Karimov, defining objectives for the future in the field of information, communication and telecommunication technologies, underlined that accelerating the development of the Concept and a comprehensive program of "e-Government" formation, including management processes, as well as the provision of public services to legal entities and individuals, a creation of a national system that integrates interagency and agency information systems.
Implementation of these measures will not only allow to manage the government agencies, to effectively develop business processes, interaction between the state and entrepreneurs, as well as to provide public services to citizens in the most accessible online form via the Internet.
According to the Deputy Chairman of the State Committee for Communications, Information Technology and Telecommunications of the Republic of Uzbekistan Sh.Shermatov the ICT have been swiftly implemented, in particular, to provide interactive services to the population and legal entities through the websites of public authorities and the government portal. In 2007, the Register of basic online public services, which currently includes more than 195 types, was approved.
Over 20 projects in various fields have been implemented within the e-government framework. The www.gov.uz governmental portal of the Republic of Uzbekistan, "e-Kommunal.uz» portal, bringing together general information in the sphere of housing and public utilities, statistical, tax and other financial data collection process automation, online visa application system designed for foreign nationals to obtain a visa to Uzbekistan, and other projects are a few important ones.
At the press conference it was noted that currently the concept and a comprehensive program of the "electronic government" framework, as well as comprehensive program for national information and communication system development of the Republic of Uzbekistan for 2013-2017 in under development. In this regard, round table seminars, workshops and meetings with leading international experts and specialists from various ministries and departments are frequently held.
These projects define the main tasks on formation and development of "e-government" framework taking into account the current state and directions of cooperation of state bodies with each other, with the public and business entities. As a result of their implementation, a move to a fully transactional services that eliminate the need to visit various institutions and to direct communication with government officials, which will contribute to the creation of additional facilities to the population and improve the business environment. (Source: UzA)
Fabulous magical symbols of the East
Art of the East is very symbolic. Embroidery, painting, and ceramics brightly demonstrate the main idea, which up to this day inspire artists and masters of decorative-applied art and crafts.
The Western art differs from the Eastern with the domination in it of the men, its problems, feelings, aspirations, while in the Eastern miniatures, on fabrics and ceramic articles prevails various symbols.
For the people of Central Asia the image of complex space was always valuable, and not in the usual astronomical term, but as the essence of the universe. Masters of the East tend to the sacral, creating their unique world and establishing mental contact with the higher powers of the sky.
Transferring their idea on the higher celestial power and the magical properties of the space is easier by means of speculative images in the patterns, embroideries and drawings.
The Uzbek national art is characterized by a very bright, positive energy; it is typical to it to tell about the meaning of the symbols in a positive direction. As the main idea of the art is to glorify the continuation of the family, prosperity and wellbeing, which from generation to generation had to carefully preserved and passed over.
Embroidery as a kind of the home fancywork stood rather high, at least because an indispensable part of the dowry of every girl was a great quantity of things from fabric. While, the decoration of each linen, cushion, bed sheets and clothes were, of course, patterns, embroidered with the aim not only to give the thing an aesthetic beauty, but also to protect their owners from anything that could harm her, as well as to show the family’s wellbeing.
No wonder that during the wedding ceremony even in the present days they carry the suzani with symbolical embroideries over the bride’s head in order to protect her from the bad eyes of the people.
Each region of Uzbekistan had its preference in the ornament. The Bukhoro, Nurota, Shahrisabz embroideries are basically consist of floral decorations. Usually, the beauty of the bride is associated with flowers, as well as the development of life. In particular, the Shahrisabz embroidery has the pattern named ‘chor-chirogh’, the Zoroastrian symbol of the home hearth and wellbeing.
In most cases in the symbolic ornaments of the East is used the symbol of red hot pepper ‘qalampir’. It is considered one of the strongest charms. It is the favorite embroidery of the Farghona masters.
The classic national charm in the East is also considered a bitter mountain almond. Even today the people believe in its protective power and patronage. It is widely used in cooking, and in the traditional medicine it is considers a good abluent.
In the Tashkent embroidery could be seen the other motif - the image of leeches - zuluk, in the form of the Latin letter S, associating with the animal specie, able to deliver from the bad blood.
Favorite ornament of embroiderers was always the embroidery of tumors - the amulets that are placed on the corners of the cloth.
The names of patterns are very symbolic. On the boundless faith of people in the protection power of the celestial bodies speak expressively the items of embroidery and ceramics, as well as jewelry. For example, bracelets and earrings in the form of circle are also a kind of symbol of the circle of magical protection. Numerous pendants are the symbols of fertility, it is believed that their noise scare away the evil spirits.
It should be noted that the patterns on ceramics and dishes also serve as symbols of protection, in particular, the food the people eat, and they also symbolize the house that ‘lives in plenty.’
In short, all symbols in patterns and decoration of the East are called to protect the main value – the life in all its glory, diversity, wellbeing and prosperity. (Source: Uzbekistan Today Newspaper).