How To Exercise Active Citizenship To Make Change For Issues You Believe In

Posted by arpit goel
November 15, 2017

NOTE: This post has been self-published by the author. Anyone can write on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Action should be defined as a response of ‘emotional churning’ towards  ‘practical outcomes’ which changes us with any involved event entirely. And its assumed effect on many such social events that work on human endeavour to contribute in society. Such events have been with individual support potential game changers on unprecedented levels a power every citizen must exercise.

My first visit to Pride Parade in Delhi was a terrifying experience due to tiring anxiety and mountains of doubt. And why not, I have never been on the streets, or encouraged to think about my rights or exercise them seriously. Never been to a forum that practices democratic assertion or demand actionable outcomes before, it was akin to stepping on a new planet altogether.

It was difficult to visualise then that I could step out of my home and assert my right as a citizen in an issue I believe.

Certain issues relevant often grandstand on one of the  two parallel levels- emotional and psychological, from an individual perspective.

I visited pride for an important additional ideal. To justify my internship and explore what Article 377 really means for people under its ambit. I found that Pride Parade is not just about Article 377 or powers of constitutional authority. It is practice in-spirit of tolerance underlying Indian democracy visioned 70 years back where people can dissent to demand rights. It is also true, Article 377 is an obsolete colonial piece of law in India but for different people it takes up different meanings. As a student it is another rule under Constitution which will put peers and friends behind bars if exercised by rule of law. For many it is moral argument to fight for, where Human Rights sits on their lips and Freedom Of Speech in mind creates ethical brackets of discourse.

‘Look back, therefore, as far as you can , drink deep pf the eternal fountains that are behind, and after that, look forward, march forward and make India brighter, greater, much higher than she ever was’

– Swami Vivekananda

And that I did. A journey I knew deep inside I had to make, to be there and see a side of a world different from where I have lived. After my brief tenure of internship with a Delhi based NGO working on Sex-Ed with youth groups, I was introduced to section 377 and Delhi High Court Judgement and its implications on the LGBTQ community around my city and majorly its place in the wider view of the world. Standing in the Pride Parade was a moral argument made in support of my newfound beliefs and convictions in palatable arguments underpinned upon democratic pride and equality principle. A feeling of active citizenship that individual voice matters, you do matter -your voice and you are relevant here.

The moral argument stood its ground firmly, but legitimising my presence walking on Tolstoy Marg among merrymaking strangers feeling alone among hundreds, became  another reservation to dig up anxieties. I have tried to win over anxiety with reason and logic, on the way knocking down every ounce of doubt by thinking yes I can. Fear of what might happen, with no friends around, how to keep standing on my feet in a buzzing, joyful, dancing crowd of people, in colourful caps, rainbow feathers, flying kisses and liberty to express love all around. Should I even be  here ? What do I do now ? Is it ok to walk like this or that or stand with him or her or that other ? So many questions buzzing through my brain.

Such path leaves you with with options. Choices not difficult but mired by wicked problems. And only answer I had was to go ahead since that was the right thing to do.

I owed it to the people and society at large around me. Not  to someone specifically, but as an active citizen. This is fundamental on many levels to create a feeling of connection that allows people around us to think that people care and empowers each of us to create newer paradigms of bonding in society. One that of mutual care, of help, nurturing through gestures of solidarity in fractious times where partisanship is the ‘new normal’. These common social gatherings have a greater effect on cultural fabric of our populated cities.

People understand that though we are in a flux constantly, society by and large can influence choice of policies. It carries a potential to transform and revolutionise reforms in an era of demented dialogues and dying debates. For political recourse to set agenda and effective policy design.

I am a shy person in life and many people don’t know this fact around me. In fact friends mistake me for an extrovert (which I’m not). I try to go and initiate to speak and engage in a conversion against all my anxieties.

Visiting  Pride Parade in Delhi winter, well, to be honest was the last thing on my mind that I could do. I went to precisely define and convert the gap in my belief system by doing my part, to go and show up.

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