The Global Status Report on Road Safety, 2015, brought out by the World Health Organisation (WHO), pegs the number of fatalities from traffic accidents globally at 1.25 million people in 2013. Of this, India’s share was 16.6 per cent, though according to the Government of India puts it at little under 11 per cent. Nevertheless, at least 1 in 10 fatalities occur in India. In spite of this high toll on lives, the country does not have a stringent law on road safety. This gap was highlighted with the death of the then Union Cabinet Minister for Transport, Gopinath Munde in 2014 in a road accident.
To address this gap, CAG, along with several groups, is working towards safer roads through various strategies, one of which is to advocate for a strong legislation on road safety. Recently, a Road Transport and Safety Bill (RTSB) was drafted by the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways (MoRTH). This draft bill aims to bring stringent penalties for violation of road rules, put in place a national unified data collection system, and ensure a scientific approach to road design.
To sharpen our advocacy efforts, we first undertook an influence mapping exercise. Influence maps allows us to identify all stakeholders, not just the obvious ones, that can influence the outcome of a project or intervention. They can help us understand the current situation and identify potential future courses of action. The mapping process can reveal whether a stakeholder is likely to have a positive or negative influence, and what the relations are between stakeholders. Thus, we can represent each stakeholder and also partition them into groups, while also representing the connections that link them.
In our case, we aimed to identify the key people who we needed to interact with to garner greater support for the RTSB. We were looking to identify stakeholders that had personal, position or political power who could influence the state government’s position on the RTSB. We were also interested in prioritising the stakeholders that we would approach and the strategy for our interactions with each. There are several types of influence maps that can be used depending on the kind of information to be represented.
My first model was the stakeholder pyramid (Image 1). The pinnacle of the ‘pyramid’ represents the goal and stakeholders are scattered below. The closer the stakeholder is to the goal, the greater is their influence. However, I found that I had to explain several parameters - stakeholder size, interest, power, internal connections and extent of support to the bill. I created the influence map on paper, and discussed with others in the team. What we found was that it was not easy to represent several parameters in the ‘pyramid’ model.
Image 1: Pyramid model that captures stakeholders, their relative size and degree of influence
Hub and spoke model
Image 2: Hub and spoke model that captures stakeholders, their relative size and degree of influence
Image 3: Hub and spoke model that captures stakeholders, their relative size and their influence on each other
Since there was a lot of information to capture in a single map, I created two (Image 2 and 3). The first one describes stakeholder size, support for the bill, and extent of influence on the passing of the bill. The second map shows the same parameters except for the last one. Instead of that, it shows the interconnections between stakeholders and their influence on each other.
Together, the two maps had the advantage over the pyramid model because they captured the following aspects:
- The importance or weight of a stakeholder's overall influence, as represented by the size of the circle representing that stakeholder
- The relationships between stakeholders as represented, by the presence of lines or arrows between them
- The amount of influence stakeholders have over others as represented, by the heaviness of the lines drawn between them.
The team looked at it again and provided feedback that there were still too many criteria on the map indicated by differences in line, thickness, and circle size. This made it difficult for the reader to grasp and process the information quickly and easily. While I had actually chosen only a few of the many criteria that we discussed as important to our influence map, this model was not easily understandable. I decided to distil the map down to two parameters - power and interest - that were critical to our objective of passing the draft bill in Parliament.
After much research, I went with the online tool, GroupMap to create the matrix as shown in Image 4. The map plots the interest (x axis) versus power (y axis) of the stakeholder in getting the RTSB tabled/passed. The filled-in bar below each stakeholder group is indicative of extent of their interest (either negative or positive). A thing to remember about influence maps in general is that the map may change over time due to a number of reasons, including changes in the stakeholder’s stance or their power, or new stakeholders come into picture and the new relative powers.
Image 4: Power-Interest matrix
Based on my research, I placed each stakeholder in the grid. The grid has four quadrants, that are labelled Satisfy, Manage, Monitor and Inform. This indicates the strategy for engagement with regard to our goal of getting the Bill passed in Parliament.
Quadrant 1 has stakeholders who have positive power and positive interest in the RTSB. They are key players and need to be ‘managed’. These are stakeholders that we could collaborate and consult with, and use their influence with other stakeholders. In Quadrant 2, we place stakeholders who have positive power but negative interest. We would need to keep these stakeholders ‘satisfied’, which would include understanding and acknowledging their reasons for resistance. We would provide them just enough information about the RTSB to inform them about the desirable features and to generate support for it with the aim to move them to Quadrant 1. Quadrant 3 has those with negative power as well as negative interest. These are stakeholders that we need to ‘monitor’ but not necessarily actively engage with. We would pass on information about the RTSB with the aim to move them at least to Quadrant 4. We would place stakeholders with negative power and positive interest in Quadrant 4. These stakeholders need to be ‘informed’ about any developments in the RTSB Bill, consult with them about road safety, and involve them in low-risk activities.
Insights and strategy
We have created influence maps for Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Kerala and provide a brief explanation of the context and insights from the maps.
Image 5: Power-interest matrix of stakeholders in Tamil Nadu
The politics of the state has, for long, been dominated by two parties – the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK). The incumbent AIADMK, headed by J. Jayalalithaa, while having 153 MLAs and 39 Members of Parliament (MP), is known to be party where only one voice matters. With power so concentrated, there has always been little initiative from elected representatives to highlight any issue without an explicit go ahead from above.
The feud between the AIADMK and the opposition parties is such that the support of opposition parties to an issue, like the tabling of the RTSB, is likely to derail any progress. Other than politicians and political parties, those with some influence in the state are the Chief Minister’s advisor; the relevant government departments whose opinions are sought - in this case, the Transport, Police and Revenue departments; and the automotive industry. The state has made this industry very welcome here and so automobile manufacturers are likely to be heard sympathetically.
The public can indirectly influence the state via the media, but . others stakeholders do not have much influence. These include labour unions, civil society organisations (CSOs), emergency services, hospitals, insurance companies, and small mechanics.
Our understanding of the current situation in Tamil Nadu is that key influencers would be the Chief Minister’s Advisor and the Commissioners of the Transport and Police departments, followed by the Transport Minister to some extent. However, elections for the state Legislative Assembly are scheduled for May 2016 and this situation is likely to change depending on the results of the election.
Image 6: Power-interest matrix of government departments and officials in Tamil Nadu
Image 7: Power-interest matrix of stakeholders in Kerala
The situation is quite different in Kerala. The ruling coalition - United Democratic Front (UDF) - led by the Indian National Congress (INC) and the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) - has shown mixed support for the RTSB with a few MPs signing letters of support. The opposition - the Left Democratic Front (LDF), led by the Communist Party of India (CPI) and Communist Party of India - Marxist (CPI-M) - is strongly against the RTSB. They have held country-wide strikes via their affiliated labour unions. However, with the UDF having a slim majority they are unlikely to go out on a limb on any issue, particularly since RTSB is seen in Kerala as anti-labour, anti-small enterprise, and as a move towards privatisation of public transport.
Image 8: Power-interest matrix of stakeholders in Karnataka
There is no major opposition to the Bill in Karnataka as groups that have opposed it in other states, such as the Communist parties and labour unions, are not strong in the state. One exception is the automotive industry as Karnataka, like Tamil Nadu, is also an important hub of automobile production. However, there is no particular support for the Bill either; it seems that most stakeholders are fairly indifferent to the issue.There is no major opposition to the Bill in Karnataka as groups that have opposed it in other states, such as the Communist parties and labour unions, are not strong in the state. One exception is the automotive industry as Karnataka, like Tamil Nadu, is also an important hub of automobile production. However, there is no particular support for the Bill either; it seems that most stakeholders are fairly indifferent to the issue.