Ali Imam – from YUVA: Youth United for Voluntary Action Organization – suddenly choked up. With an unlikely look on his face, he stopped, as if contemplating about the unknown. Looking around the room – as if trying to find an answer in the whites of the cracking wall – with bated breath, he started again. And I just kept wondering. How can a boy in his early 20s, grow up in the tense, hard, and conservative Azadpur Subzi Mandi – Asia’s largest fruits and vegetable market – and still advocate for change? How can he reach a national gathering of youngsters sharing his thoughts on rights and duties?
I have been diving head on into this enigma of a game around constitutional rights and duties for the better part of 2 months. Ali’s story probably puts a definite testament to my resolve of why I dived into writing about this, in the first place. As an impact journalist, constantly on the search of solutions, this game – better known as Be A Jagrik – was probably right in the slot. And the event in Delhi – the seething cauldron of aware youngsters – was surely the last piece of the puzzle.
“I belong to the Dalit community and in my village we are not allowed to enter the temple. During one of the Jagrik task, I entered a temple for the first time as part of questioning religious stereotypes prevailing in the society. Though it was not taken very well in my community, I still got an opportunity to have a conversation on the Right to Equality that the Constitution gives all of us, no matter what religion, caste class or gender we belong to.” As I was trying to conquer the sheer audacity of the point made by Rajkumari from Harda, another equally alternating paradigm hit me. “ As part of a task, when I was working with kids from a minority community, if you ask me what my takeaway was I’d say empathy. The kids taught me that empathy is something that all of us should possess”, reaffirmed Sumanth from Hyderabad
Sumanth and Rajkumari couldn’t have come from more different backgrounds. One was studying at a premier school in Hyderabad, experimenting with hardcore technology. The other came from the Dalit Community of Harda, trying to break judgemental undertones. But today, both of them stood together. Speaking from the same stage Sumanth and Rajkumari explosively called out how they felt about the constitution. A document that measures everyone in equal proportions, irrespective of their upbringing or social privilege.
Be a Jagrik has spanned to more than 1100 Jagriks – as the likes of Sumanth, Rajkumari, and Ali – across 14 states in India, taking part in almost 5040 self and social action projects and reaching out to more than 39500 people. As I saw these numbers, reaffirmed by the actions, up on the gallery, I knew what Jagrik reflections meant. Gallery was a space where all the Jagriks represented pictorially their journey which beautifully brought out the national footprint.
The event showcased that even in the most trying of times, our constitution weaves culture and identities amicably, often with fervour. This sentiment rang profoundly in the words of the Honorable Chief Guest, Justice Iqbal Ahmed Ansari, “In the brief period of me being a part of this event, what I have found is that the event has been laid off very intelligently, seriously and after a deep thought process. The examples given on the violation of our constitution have been communicated very well. If the spirit behind the constitution comes to be known, some degree of knowledge comes to be known.”
For me, all of this struck as a resounding truth. And the concluding song by the powerful Sufi singer Sonam Kalra couldn’t have impressed upon it harder. Profess that you are free, your words remain unshackled. As she weaved her voice with these rousing lyrics of Faiz Ahmad Faiz, I couldn’t help but put my enigma to rest. I was content, assured with the fact that across the fabric of this nation there are torchbearers. Thousands of torchbearers who are striving everyday, in their own little ways to write and rewrite the most important part of our constitution. The chapter of truth.