We keep hearing about the constitution on a regular basis. But do you remember the six basic fundamental rights or the fundamental duties mentioned in the constitution? Have you ever invested time in understanding it? We may or may not really have invested time in understanding it, but we cannot deny that it plays the most important part of us being citizen of this country. Interestingly 500 young people across the nation are trying to understand it- as part of the Samvidhan Live.
But before we start the journey of understanding the constitution, do we really know about constitutional literacy in the country? Not many of us really know about it. The Samvidhan Live project is also conducting a survey to find out if the people of India really know about the basics of constitution.
But what is Samvidhan Live? And what is Jagrik Project? We will come to it in later part of this article.
As citizen of this country, we may not realise, but we encounter our constitution on a daily basis. When we criticise the government on Facebook, we are accessing freedom of expression guaranteed by the constitution. When we plan to buy a land to build our dream home, it is because the constitution guarantees us right to property. There are numerous things from our lives we can talk about which has been made possible because of the 67 year old constitution. It is rather a very young document. But certainly has a huge burden of guaranteeing rights to more than 1.25 billion people.
Despite the regular conversations around fundamental rights, are we engaging much with the equally important part- fundamental duties, also mentioned in the constitution? This may not attract many eyeballs but it is equally important and critical in real development of the country. We cannot distance ourselves from the duties described in the constitution and ask only for the rights. This does not mean we should not engage in demanding fundamental rights of each and every individual, especially that of the last person. We must.
Balance between rights and duties is critical. Imagine a weighing scale with rights and duties on each side. If we do not have a balance between the two, the metaphorical country will suffer the misbalance. There is no blinking to the fact that we are witnessing incidents where this disproportionate balance is creating chaos in country. Instead of classroom learning, can we create a culture where people learn from experiences on the ground by actually living the constitutional values?
Samvidhan Live, the Jagrik Project: making the difference
Commutiny the Youth Collective’s latest initiative, Samvidhan Live is a right step in this direction. The word Jagrik (Jagruk + Nagrik, which means aware citizen) makes the intention of the initiative pretty clear to every one. The idea is to create a network of aware citizen who are engaging with fundamental rights and duties on a regular basis, and are inspiring others to do the same. They are doing this by playing a ‘reality check’ game, Samvidhan Live. Never before young citizens have engaged with the constitution in such a creative manner. This is probably for the very first time that people have come forward to not only understand the constitution, but to live it.
The game which has many tasks relating to constitution, fundamental duties and rights, is initiating a change. Young people are engaging with the reality of our times. Concepts of poverty line, unequal opportunities, discrimination is known to all of us. We have been reading them since childhood. Just by the virtue of somebody’s birth in a particular religion, caste and class society decides his/her rest of the life. But what does it mean to them- the people at the receiving end of this barbaric discrimination? Can people from the ‘other’ class, community, religion or caste can understand this? This game is an opportunity for many to understand this gap- the gap which our constitution tries to bridge. The Jagrik initiative can act like a catalyst in the larger goal of understanding the real meaning of constitution- the rights it offers, the duties we need to take care of.
500 Jagriks across the country are trying to understand the Country and Constitution!
Imagine you have to live a day on mere Rs 32. Difficult to imagine? That is the poverty line for you, and almost 30% of our population lives below that margin. These are mere statistics for us. And if you are reading this article on a computer screen or on a mobile, probably you do not belong to that community. Because, you had education to read this, you have a computer or a mobile.
But the Jagriks are doing something which is sure to change their perspective on poverty and other issues which are generally alien to us.
There are around 500 Jagriks from all across the country who are playing the reality check game Samvidhan Live. These are young citizens who are engaging with people in their constituencies and while playing the game, they are understanding the constitution by experiencing it.
In one of the tasks, Kushal Ganeriwal had to spend an entire day (24 hours) on Rs 32. After completing the task, he realised the tough lives people lead due to poverty. He wrote in his post, “The thing which our government had said that a poor can live by earning only Rs 32 is totally wrong because no one can survive on Rs 32. He or she can manage to survive for 1 or 2 days but they cannot survive for the whole life.” Sadly this is the reality. From this experience Kushal understood the disparity in our society. Can we relate this disparity to lack of right to equal opportunities?
There are examples from various Jagriks where they talked to families of child labourers and tried convincing them to utilise the right to education available for the children. Divyesh Joshi from Udaipur collected Rs 3000, as part of a task, and donated it for celebration at an old age home. He says, “I just loved the time spent with them. This was the best way to use the donation amount which brought smile on those cute faces.”
These are examples of how young people are experiencing the constitution which will remain with them for years to come.
As we move forward
There is a larger picture ahead of us. The constitution is for the country. Many societies, cultures, class of people, religions converge to make this country. Constitution is the binding force. If we do not understand it, it will be difficult for us to make a sense of the country. We not only need to understand the constitution, but need to live it. The Jagrik project is a step in right direction in that sense.
The Jagrik project is just a beginning. As we move forward we all will require regular initiatives which will make learning about our constitution, society and life more interesting. Key word is to ‘engage’ the young minds because they are the one who will create better tomorrow.
The article is contributed by Nihal Parashar for 5th Space.
Nihal is an actor, writer and social media enthusiast. He has studied Literature, Journalism, Conflict Transformation and Peace Building. He has been associated with various media based and community-based organisations in the past.