Over 400 Jagriks (Jagruk+Nagriks) have undertaken an arduous journey to better understand the Indian Constitution and its tenets and apply them in their lives, under Samvidhan Live: the Jagrik Project. Kanika Sinha talks about how watching these 400 journeys progress helped her better identify with the Constitution and apply its principles in her life.
What does visiting different religious places, or reversing roles with someone from the opposite gender, have to do with the Constitution? Across the country, over 400 young people, who we call Jagriks, are doing seemingly crazy things in the name of the Constitution—taking a beggar for a meal at a restaurant, locking themselves up in a confined space for hours, spending 24 hours on a mere Rs. 32, and the list goes on and on.
On 26th January 1950, India was declared a republic – a democratic, sovereign republic that stood for values like liberty, fraternity, equality, and justice. At least that’s what I learnt in my Class VI Civics text book. I also learned about fundamental rights and duties. That was the first I had heard of them, and I managed to spend significant years of my life, thereafter, without ever thinking of them again.
With experience and knowledge, I began to understand how Constitutional Rights one studied about came with legal and policy provisions that impacted my everyday life. The Right to Education Act or the Right to Employment Act provide for schemes and rules that are designed to take us closer to our dream as a nation, albeit with much still left to be imagined and implemented. However, it wasn’t until much later that it dawned upon me that we as a nation are getting quite a raw deal from ourselves as citizens.
There is nothing whatsoever that binds us to our fundamental duties, and perhaps that’s the gap we need to plug to fulfill the dream.
Somewhere, in our minds, the idea of fulfilling duties comes with a certain burden. It makes us feel that we are better off leaving them to the ‘activist’ sort. But then, who knew that developing a scientific temper was a fundamental duty? The leader telling us that cows exhale oxygen certainly seems to have forgotten! I never realized that complacence at work was a direct violation of my fundamental duty to strive for excellence. I figured it may impact my annual appraisal, but never thought it reflected on me as a citizen.
Watching young people experience the Constitution through Samvidhan LIVE, I got a chance to familiarize myself with our Constitution again. This time around, it was speaking to me, and I could see myself in it.
This time around, I understood what being a ‘citizen’ meant, and it didn’t seem so hard anymore.
What 400 youth achieved over five weeks is remarkable (more than 1,500 social action tasks), putting anyone to shame. The beauty is that in the spirit of the Constitution, the Jagriks’ experiences have proved to be inspirational, not exclusive. They have not created a community of activists who are hard to relate to. Instead, they have ‘lived’ the Constitution as the kind of citizens that each one of us can aspire to be.
(The author is a Team Member with ComMutiny Youth Collective, the organisers of Samvidhan LIVE: The Jagrik Project.)