The Optimist Citizen
Jagrik Project Gayatri

When a college lecturer left the pen for the broom and cleaned a 16th century heritage site

Under ComMutiny – The Youth collective’s Samvidhan Live! The Jagrik Project, Gayatri and Pradip lived the constitution through the social action task of cleaning a archaeologically important 16th century coastal fort in Arnala, Maharashtra

The Swacch Bharat Abhiyaan initiated by the NDA government has covered a large part of the country by motivating people to maintain cleanliness around them. The citizens have started taking gradual steps towards this initiative, but there is scope for much more. But we can’t claim utmost ingenuity about the fact that we have been able to give our best efforts to reclaim cleanliness around us. Small things like a scrap of paper thrown out, a box of cardboard discarded, and much more eventually end up in a mammoth pile that damages our surroundings. Many organisations have been working on the issue, but Gayatri’s intent and work, using our constitution’s fundamental rights and duties, took it to another level of an action by an individual.

An engineering graduate, Gayatri is presently a lecturer and lives in the Kalva district of Maharashtra. She and others in her village were hardly aware – mostly ignorant – about the fundamental rights and duties that have been laid down in our constitution. While attending a workshop in her college, she came to know about the The Blue Ribbon Movement. She was instantly motivated to be a part of it and she became a member. That was when her life changing journey began.

Alongside being associated with the Blue Ribbon movement – a member of the ComMutiny – The Youth Collective – Gayatri had also engaged herself in an interesting public initiative called Samvidhan Live! The Jagrik Project in Mumbai – a nationwide campaign initiated by ComMutiny – The Youth Collective in collaboration with 22 partner organisations in 14 states engaging more than 600 youngsters by making them live the Constitution for 5 weeks through various social action tasks. Now as a part of this, Gayatri had to partake in various on ground action based activities that led her towards understanding and imbibing the ethos of our constitution.

As part of the tasks, they started going to various places of the village and nearby areas and conducted cleanliness drives. They cleaned places like roads, heritage sites and garbage areas. She said, “Cleaning the area around the Garbage Bins was the toughest task to do, and roads the easiest. Take an example when someone wants to chug a scrap of paper in dustbin. But, often instead of throwing the garbage in the bin, we start littering the area around it. I did it myself”, says Gayatri with a surreal vigour and shock.

“We as citizens do not understand the ordeals faced by the cleaners to clean such garbage areas as we think that throwing waste around the bin will also be considered as throwing the waste inside the bin” she added.

The biggest task that Gayatri undertook with her team was cleaning the archaeologically important Arnala Fort – a fort originally constructed in the early parts of 16th century A.D. She, along with Pradip – another Jagrik – conducted many such cleanliness drives in the Arnala Fort so that the heritage sites remain preserved and maintained. It is after learning about the 42nd amendment of the Constitution, which adds to preserve and value the cultural heritage of India as a Fundamental Duty, that Gayatri and Pradip embarked on the social action tasks. “Even after completing the cleanliness drives, one day, absent-mindedly, I tried to throw a scrap of paper around a bin area and then it suddenly struck me. My conscience gave me a hard kick and I stopped. I believe this was the biggest impact that Samvidhan Live! had on me. I now understand what really my duties are towards my nation.” says Gayatri.

This is the kind of impact that Samvidhan Live! The Jagrik Project has on young people across the country, by facilitating real experiences that create a deep influence on their minds and gives a new benchmark for the constitution in their minds.

It is now the responsibility of the youth of this nation to perform their Duties and make their country better. Cleanliness and maintenance of our tangible cultural heritage is one such duty that every individual should perform. Public Initiatives like Samvidhan Live! The Jagrik Project are making sure that steps are being taken in that direction, but a lot still needs to be done. Let’s take a pledge today to do our bit.

Akshada Bhise | TOC

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