India celebrated its 69th Republic Day on January 26, 2018. In the last 69 years, we have made much progress in improving on different parameters like health, life expectancy and education. Some significant challenges exist primarily on income inequality, corruption and the quality of public leadership in the country. The current generation of politicians just do not have the service mindset, which was possessed by the likes of Gandhi, Ambedkar, Nehru and Patel. Luckily for us, the values and aspirations of our great freedom fighters are enshrined in the Constitution of India that they wrote together.
Schools and colleges are important sites where values are being acquired. It is imperative that youngsters learn values in school that align with the Indian Constitution. “Samvidhan Live – The Jagrik Project” is an initiative that promotes understanding of Constitutional values among youngsters. The project is in its second edition this year and has been well received by students and teachers. A Delhi based NGO, “ComMutiny -the Youth Collective”, has created the project, and it has been implemented by 22 organisations that are members of the collective.
Diksha Foundation (which is where I work) and Center for Social Equity and Inclusion (CSEI) implemented this public initiative in different parts of Bihar. The students formed teams of two and took up different activities on the theme of active citizenship. The tasks included not only social action for reform in others but also self-reflection to improve one’s own habits and views.
Baby Kumari, a class 9 student who studies at Diksha’s after-school learning centre, shares, “The social action task that I took up was educating others about gender discrimination. Before taking part in the Jagrik project, I was hesitant to talk to others. But in this project, my teammate Khusboo and I reached out to the Principal of Rajkiya Krit Madhyamik Vidyalaya, Patna and got his permission to conduct a session. We shared with over hundred students and five teachers, on how opportunities are restricted based on gender and we all need to come together to create avenues for everyone. Now, I believe that everyone can engage in all activities, women can drive bikes and men can have long hair, and they should be given the freedom to do that.”
The Indian school curriculum has civics lessons to introduce the structure of the government and the nature of Indian democracy to young minds. What the Jagrik initiative does very well is that it adds a real-life experiential learning component to understanding the provisions of the Indian Constitution.
There is also an element of gamification as students collaborate and compete to complete tasks that give a glimpse of both the diversity and the challenges India faces. At the level of the individual learner, the experience is transformative.
Nisha Kumari, a class 12 student, JD Women’s Inter College comments, “I represented Bihar in the National Event of Jagrik Project at the Constitution Club of India. It was the first time that I had travelled beyond my district. I met other young Jagriks from different parts of the country. I understood that there is an India beyond my state. My favourite task in the project was carrying out Swacch Bharat Abhiyan in my locality. 10-15 students got together and picked up the garbage and swept the streets. Some community members asked why we were cleaning the area. I told them, If the PM can hold a broom for Swachh Bharat, so can I!”
To know more about CYC, go here.
About the Author: Gautam Gauri is a member of the Commutiny – the Youth Collective and Co-founder of Diksha Foundation. He can be reached here.