Upon research, we find that according to the Census of 2011, Uttar Pradesh had the highest number of young people in the country. Out of the total population of 19.9 crores, there were nearly 4 crore young people (15-24 years) – a prominent 17.5% of the total population. For the persistent problem its associated rhetoric of the rise in population, this figure might stand as a looming threat. But, the young people in the state also pose an opportunity. A state that is equally revelling in its diversity, as it is battling its religious and political pitfalls, young people can tip the balance towards a positive change.
Commutiny – The Youth Collective, The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and Delhi based organisation Pravah took this opportunities to turn tides towards a positive discourse. They recognised the diversity in the youth of Uttar Pradesh and brought together 11 civil society organisations to work on the public initiative Be a Jagrik – Samvidhan LIVE!… Live the SDGs! The initiative aims to enable young, aware, and active citizens or Jagriks live and experience the SDGs and also rights and duties enshrined in the Indian Constitution. As the Jagriks undertake exciting self and community action projects on-ground, they also take their powerful voice for change into the world.
“The issues of the youth are nearly incomprehensible mostly because of the wide ambit they lie in. Often, a misunderstanding leads the youth towards events or actions that are generally not considered right. How do you find a common thread to understand this behaviour and then lay down a roadmap for the youth to understand? How do you instill a sentiment of self-understanding of what is right and what is wrong? This game and the journey through the game draws that new line in that case.” says Zeeshan from the Lucknow based Yeh EK Soch Foundation. The organisation informs, empowers, encourages and supports youth from marginalised communities to be a part of the wider discourse in the society.
The element of a game or a sport, that Zeeshan refers to, is deeply ingrained in the youth of Uttar Pradesh as it forms an integral aspect of their lives. “Games like cricket, football, or athletics was always a big part of every neighbourhood while we were growing up. Youth from various communities came together and played together, This even inspired them to take up social impact projects for the neighborhood and this was what gave rise to Awadh People’s Forum. This element of co-ownership is probably the biggest support for an initiative like Be a Jagrik.” adds Afaq of Awadh People’s Forum from Faizabad one of the 11 partners in the state. The organisation runs five learning centres and engages their audience through mediums of community discussion, film screening, learning exposure visit and youth camps in rural communities.
Talking about its relevance Gaurav Srivastava from Bewajah Samiti in Lucknow adds, “This (initiative) is completely relevant for any age or demographic group – let alone the youth in Uttar Pradesh. Especially the real-time activities and participation which brings in new knowledge from the participants itself is something that sets the game apart. We have been working on using the medium of drama and theatre for long now and Be A Jagrik has a similar inside-out perspective in its approach. This homogeneity eases our models to be amalgamated with the model of the game and its refl-active journey”. Bewajah Samiti is utilising the medium of drama and theatre to inspire young people towards social change.
Be a Jagrik – Samvidhan LIVE!… Live the SDGs is working with 11 partners – namely Yeh Ek Soch Foundation, Bewajah Samiti, Swatantra Talim, Awadh People’s Forum, De Haath Society, Gramya Sansthan, Mahila Swarojgar Samiti, Badlav, PACE, Azad Shiksha Kendra and Vanangana – in Uttar Pradesh to amicably cover the wide and magnificent diversity of the state and is attempting to work with at least 11000 young people.
The initiative is an interactive attempt to immerse the youth of the state in responsible citizenship. Because beyond the tangling subject of relsion, politics and all the ballyhoo around issues that divide people, it focusses on an imperative document that is often taken for granted – our constitution. This elixir can become path-breaking for millions and help them carve a new path for them. The Optimist Citizen would be keenly following the course of this public initiative, relaying all positive outcomes, every step of the way.