My mother beamed with pride every time I scored a distinction or more in any subject. To my embarrassment, she would announce my achievement loud and clear among all neighbours and relatives, and had to be held back from distributing sweets to the whole world!
This was a sight I recollected as I was filling out the Samvidhan Survey a few months ago, to test my understanding and knowledge of the Indian Constitution. Just as in most tests, I had a pretty decent idea of how I would fare as I was going through it, and I could picture my mother sheepishly putting away the box of laddoos on seeing my score.
So while we are told that tests we take as students are helping us to prepare for life, one might ask why scoring well on a test about our Constitution is important. There is no real need for me to feel bad or be deprived of laddoos for failing the Samvidhan Survey, after all, no job interviewer will ever ask me my score on it, and moreover, it has no bearing on my citizenship status – I am a natural born Indian, and I own that citizenship – haq se!
Yet, as I look around me, at the inequalities, the prejudices, the festering hatred and social breakdowns, I start wondering if like me, most citizens are oblivious to the values enshrined in the Constitution, and if that, in fact, is the crux of the problem.
I wasn’t the only one who took the survey. Almost 20000 people across the country have taken it, and the results are not much different from mine. But, a small discovery gave me hope. Young Jagriks (Jagruk+Nagriks or aware citizens), who participated in a real life based game called Samvidhan LIVE! The Jagrik Project, scored much higher on the same test…more than 70% as opposed to 36% which was the national average. Through social action tasks based on fundamental rights and duties that they undertook in the real world, they understood and internalised the Constitution. Mind you, these are young people, between the ages of 14-30 years, from all over the country, many with less experience and less ‘schooling’ than many of us, and they have taken giant strides towards making the Constitution real and relevant to each of them and to each of us.
I am more convinced now than ever that Constitutional literacy is critical for our country to thrive as the vibrant, progressive, inclusive and just democracy that we had dreamed of in 1947. As ‘Jagrik Fever’ spreads, we find more and more young people getting aligned with that dream.
As we speak, a new cohort of Jagriks is taking that survey, and I am waiting with bated breath to see how well they fare this time around. I recommend you take that survey and test yourself on your citizenship quotient (https://jagrik.surveyform.in/). To find out how you did in comparison to the Jagriks, join their celebration event at Constitution Club of India on 24th January 2018, from 3-7 PM.
The writer Kanika Sinha is a team member at ComMutiny – The Youth Collective and has been a part of designing and implementing Samvidhan LIVE! The Jagrik Project