The Optimist Citizen

Tribal, Rural, Urban: How one campaign in Jharkhand taught that beyond the distinctions there is only one singularity; our identity as Human beings

Carved out of Bihar, Jharkhand was named after its lush, forested landscapes. But, the state has always been defined by those who made it their abode. It has witnessed itself get defined by the intermingling of native tribes and castes with a modern, contemporary population which provided it with a unique image. And it was the city of Jamshedpur which became the host to this beautiful diversity.

But such diversity, has more often than not, led to the creation of numerous social,gender and caste based barriers and stereotypes which have led to chaos. Sensing this as an imminent threat to prosperity and equality in society People for Change, an organization based in Jamshedpur, has come up with innovative social solutions and activities by partnering with the Samjho Toh Express, a 9 month long campaign initiated in 14 states by Commutiny -The Youth Collective which broke religious and social stereotypes amongst thousands of youngsters from diverse social, economic and religious backgrounds.

“A major social difference that is observed in Jharkhand is that there is angst among the upper and more developed section of society against the reservation system for the Scheduled tribes, Castes and OBCs. People for Change targeted this directly, by organizing debates and discussions around it”, said Souvik, founder of People for Change. He believes this anger is there only because the two sections of the society do not know and understand each other.

In a bout to increase understanding between youth of different economic and social backgrounds, People for Change organized Nukkad Natak (street plays) that questioned the irrelevance and  futility of social barriers, cricket matches which taught the lesson of team spirit and oneness through sports, street marches, discussions, debates and regular visits to each other’s localities. All this gave rise to a 5th space, a space where young people can expand beyond the typical 4 spaces of career-education, family, friends and leisure by exploring the 5th space, a journey from self to society and back.

Although Youth development and mobilization for such community-based events is a major challenge that organizations face, Samjho toh has at least created a puncture in that inflated veil of differences. “Now as we have identified how to engage the youth effectively, we can easily facilitate the meetings and discussions.”, says Souvik. He also gave an example of the highly popular “Unmanifesto campaign” when youth in different districts of India presented their own manifesto to their local elected representatives.

These events and campaigns are evidence that however rough the road ahead might be, by discussions we too can smoothen it up and make everyone understand that it is not caste, money, gender or race that defines us; it is our identity as human beings that does.

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