In October 2016, TYPF had the opportunity to partner with 'Com-Mutiny- The Youth Collective' to introduce and implement the Samvidhan Live- The Jagrik Project with adolescents living in low resource settings in and around Nizamuddin West, New Delhi.
The Samvidhan Live- The Jagrik Project is a nationwide initiative designed and anchored by ComMutiny that aims to build young people’s awareness of their fundamental rights and duties as citizens of India. With partnered non-profit organizations in different states, the project engaged 18-24 young people between the ages of 12 and 25 over a 8 week period, to undertake a series of community and self-reflective tasks associated with different fundamental rights and duties. Participants were divided into pairs of two and called Jagriks, a portmanteau of Jagruk Nagriks or Active Citizens. On a weekly basis, through a roll of dice, each Jagrik pair would be given a specific fundamental right and duty with corresponding activities. Each pair would choose one group task and one individual task from over 12 different activity options, ranked in order of difficulty as a gold, silver, or bronze task. At the end of each week, all the Jagriks would come together to share their experiences and lessons with the group. Many of the Jagrik’s experiences were recorded and shared online on social media.
To prepare Jagriks to undertake these activities, TYPF with guidance from CYC, conducted a series of training on fundamental rights and duties and facilitation skills at the beginning of the project as well as mid-way in its duration. To increase the community’s awareness on fundamental rights and duties from a youth perspective, Jagriks further organized and led 2 community events - an introduction to the project and to celebrate its culmination with the Jagriks sharing their journeys at the end of the project. On 24th January, shortly before Republic Day, CYC organized a national event that brought together Jagriks from across the country to celebrate and share their experiences with a panel of civil servants sharing their perspectives. The event enabled Jagriks to witness the scale and importance of the initiative and further introduced a short film that highlights Jagriks’ perspectives, posted as a Letter to the President of India.
Given below is TYPF’s summary of the project’s activities from November 2016 till February 2017.
TYPF began the Project in November 2016 by first mobilizing adolescents interested in undertaking social action and increasing their own understanding of the Indian Constitution and young citizens. The Blending Spectrum programme team raised a call for interest young citizens within Sundar Nagar Nursery, where the programme runs an after-school center. Simultaneously, TYPF staff approached surrounding non-profits who provide after school education to identify adolescents in Nizamuddin and Sarai Kale Khan who would also be interested in participating in this programme. As a result, TYPF was successful in engaging 24 adolescents between the ages of 12 and 19 who decided to participate in the programme. For many of these adolescents, the project would be their first engagement with any form of social action. One participant, who is presently in Class 12, specifically joined the project because she plans to become a lawyer and wanted to learn more about the Indian Constitution.
After mobilizing 24 adolescents, TYPF organized a 2 day orientation workshop at an external location. With CYC’s support and guidance with respect to session design, the orientation was conducted with TYPF programme staff facilitating the workshop. Sessions focused on introducing the Jagriks to the Constitution and preamble, Fundamental Rights, Fundamental Duties, and Values. The workshop also included group and self-reflective exercises such as asking Jagriks to list the values and rules they would inculcate if there were to start a new society. In doing so, Jagriks formed a stronger understanding of the significance of having fundamental rights and the responsibilities that follow in the context of their own realities. At the end of the workshop, the Jagriks divided into pairs of 2 and took an active initiative to partner with someone they did not know well. For example, one pair was formed by our youngest and oldest Jagriks, Ashish who is 12 and Shikha who is 19. The group collectively decided to meet weekly on Saturday afternoons to decide tasks and to share their weekly task activities.
TYPF conducted the project’s first session on 10th December, 2016. The session began with each Jagrik pair rolling a dice which would assign a number corresponding to a specific fundamental right or duty theme. TYPF took the decision for all Jagriks to engage with tasks pertaining to fundamental rights for the first 3 weeks, to then be followed with tasks pertaining to fundamental duties. Consequently, all Jagriks were introduced to each fundamental right or duty through their own tasks or through the experiences shared by other Jagriks. Over the course of the 6 weeks, 3 pairs of Jagriks were assigned to a particular mentor i.e. a TYPF staff member or intern who was responsible for helping Jagriks choose their tasks and to support them in implementation should challenges arise.
Each Saturday afternoon, the Jagriks would come together to roll the dice and to choose their next tasks associated with another fundamental right or duty as well as to share their weekly tasks and their own experiences, challenges, and successes. Many Jagrik pairs shared their own difficulties in approaching other citizen groups from different socio-economic backgrounds. For example, one pair of Jagriks – Shahid and Huma - were tasked to have a conversation with someone less fortunate than themselves. Shahid and Huma spoke to someone who lived on the road near their community. The man shared his story of losing his home twice and being afraid of further losing his spot on the road. Shahid and Huma shared their understanding of how difficult it must be to have no family and no support structure as well as no resources in a city like New Delhi, where living costs are high.
To increase Jagrik motivation, tasks for each fundamental right and duty were organized in order of difficulty as gold, silver, and bronze. At the weekly session, each pair’s initiatives would further be given feedback by the rest of the group, based on their ability to accomplish the task and its relative difficulty. As a result, each group was motivated to undertake more activity and frequently chose only gold tasks. However, the group also learnt from Jagriks who accomplished bronze tasks well. For example, one Jagrik, Iqra, decided to meet a jailed person, a task associated with the right to freedom. She chose this task, despite its bronze status, because she wanted to see whether she could accomplish it. She spoke to her father about the task and together they went to the Nizamuddin police station. They were successful in speaking to a police officer and a person jailed, an interaction many would choose to avoid. Her experience was inspiring to the entire group who acknowledged her effort and initiative irrespective of the task’s ranking.
Community Orientation to the Project
To introduce community members to the Samvidhan Live – The Jagrik Project, TYPF supported community leaders in designing and organizing a community orientation event. The aim of the event was to increase the community’s awareness on the Constitution and the fundamental rights and duties as well as to showcase the initiatives being undertaken by the adolescents living in the community. The event was held on 18th December in Sundar Nagar Nursery and witnessed the attendance of over 80 community members, most predominantly of older women, the Jagriks’ mothers and younger siblings. A short film on the Making of the Constitution was shown and Jagriks introduced themselves and their role in the project to the audience. Through a group activity game, Jagriks also demonstrated how they were to work together in pairs to undertake the project’s tasks.
To reinforce Jagriks’ understanding of the fundamental rights and duties as well as to increase their self reflection and learnings from the project, TYPF organized a one day refresher training on 22nd January at the Ghalib Academy Auditorium in Nizamuddin. Working in groups of 6, the Jagriks used newspaper cuttings to demonstrate their respective journeys and the issues they learnt about with respect to equality, education, nutrition, and income. Reena Khatoon, a TYPF programme manager and lawyer, facilitated a session on the Indian Constitution and the significance of citizens having fundamental rights and duties. Additional activities encouraged Jagriks to connect fundamental rights and duties to headlines, movies, and songs that raise awareness on specific fundamental rights and duties. At the end of the workshop, each Jagrik pair was asked to make a newspaper highlighting the fundamental rights and duties associated with their tasks with relevant news stories and a narration of their own experiences.
After the completion of all tasks, TYPF organized a community event to celebrate the culmination of the Jagrik Project, led by the Jagriks themselves. The event was held on 11th February and was attended by each Jagrik’s family and friends as well as by non-profits TYPF has partnered with. Over 100 people attended the event which began with an exhibition showcasing the Jagriks’ art work, project event photographs and posters on the fundamental rights and duties and their corresponding tasks. The exhibition provided a starting point for Jagrik pairs to introduce the project to audience members in a personalized manner. 2 Jagriks compared the event with another 2 pairs narrating the task and experience that was most meaningful to them. The audience was also show an initial draft of the documentary made about the Samividhan Live– The Jagrik Project that was implemented by 20 distinct non-profits from across the country. Filmed by Nitin Das, the documentary will be shared as a letter from young citizens to the President of India. Certificates and medals were given to each Jagrik for their achievements. The certificates were handed out by their parents on stage and were successful in increasing parents’ participation and encouragement for social action initiatives their children are engaged with. The event culminated with a musical performance by the Manzil Vocal Group, and brought the audience to sing together.
Project Successes and Lessons Learnt
One of the project’s major successes was the increase in participants’ confidence to engage with people outside their own communities, whether homeless individuals, children from different religions or caste, those engaged in child labor, and even the local police and inmates. Over of half of the Jagriks shared how this was their first time engaging with any form of leadership development or social engagement and are looking forward to more similar projects. The project was also successful in enabling Jagriks to think more about issues facing all citizens. For example, one of the tasks related to the right to equality required each Jagrik to live one day while not spending over Rs. 32, the government poverty line metric. They shared how difficult it was to only spend that amount on travel and food for one day and the difficulty citizens must face is also managing their households with the same amount. A self reflective task on the right to freedom required Jagriks to spend 6 hours alone and in silence in a locked room. The task forced Jagriks to consider what being imprisoned would be like and the experiences faced by citizens under state emergency.
One of the challenges faced by the Jagriks was their difficulty in connecting specific tasks to the respective fundamental right or duty. While each Jagrik would accomplish the task and narrate their experiences with great detail and clarity, Jagriks found it challenging to explain the task in the context of the fundamental right or duty associated with it. TYPF conducted a refresher training to help reinforce their knowledge on what the different fundamental rights and duties are. One of the reasons this association was challenging was due to the advanced Hindi in which the rights and duties were written in. Since many of the words used were unfamiliar to the Jagriks, TYPF programme staff would explain each fundamental right or duty with examples at the weekly sessions.
Moving forward, TYPF will continue to engage with these participants in similar social action initiatives. For example, in the next quarter, TYPF will organize a voter registration training with interested adolescents and young people and will engage them in a campaign to register voters in their community. The aim of this initiative is to continue to increase adolescents and young people’s awareness and engagement with government systems that constitute a democracy.
TYPF and the Blending Spectrum programme look forward to future opportunities to collaborate with Com-Mutiny – The Youth Collective to engage adolescents and young people with social action and leadership.
In the Press:
"Changing Young Lives", The Asian Age; Sunday, 19 January 2017; By SuridhiSharma
"For An Equal Voice", The Pioneer; Saturday, 31 December 2016; By Jigyasu Joshi.
"Special: Fundamental Duties and Constitution", Lok Sabha TV; Monday, 27 January 2017