The Optimist Citizen
Rohit instigating constitutional literacy at home first

How a youngster initiated change in the society by instigating constitutional literacy in his home first

Rohit, a youth facilitator, decided that instead of spreading awareness on the constitution to others, why not begin it with his own family first. He shared the concept of the public initiative, Samvidhan Live! The Jagrik Project designed by ComMutiny – The Youth Collective (CYC) with his father and made him perform tasks as a Jagrik.

“We, the citizens of India, fought hard and struggled for long to break the shackles of tyranny and become independent. Bur are we really free? Yes, but no! We are still allowing us to be shepherded by archaic norms of the society. We are all going with the flow and we’ve come so far that we have forgotten the Rights and Duties we are given to us by our Constitution. And now is the time we change,” says Rohit Varma from the experiences of his 2-month journey as a Jagrik.

Samvidhan Live! The Jagrik Project is a nationwide initiative designed and anchored by CYC, in collaboration with 22 organizations in 14 states, that is engaging more than 600 youngsters by making them live the Constitution for 5 weeks through various social action tasks. The coalition partners work with a diverse cross-­section of young people – urban, rural, college graduates, dropouts, dalits, tribals, religious minorities, young men and women. Through this process the initiative has brought out the voices of youth from diverse and marginalised sections of population and shared the lived experience of the Constitution through various inventively designed tasks centered around our Fundamental Rights and Duties.

Rohit Varma is the Youth Facilitator at the organization People For Change which is a youth led non-profit organization that works with children and young people in Jamshedpur. So, instead of spreading awareness on the constitution just outside to other people, he decided to live it. He shared this concept with his father and made him perform tasks as a Jagrik.

The biggest task that his father did was getting over his superstitions. Since ancient times, there were certain simple actions that have now become regular superstitions like not cutting nails in the evening, not brooming the house in evening or taking a haircut on Tuesdays or Thursdays. These actions were considered to be sacrilegious for no legitimate reason. Rohit did a lot of research on all of these and presented it to his father which led his father to cut his nails in the evening and get a haircut on Tuesday.

The other task his father did was to live a day with just Rs. 32, which according to the Indian Government is the minimum amount needed for a person to live throughout the day.

While doing the task, his father couldn’t go out of his house for the whole day because he couldn’t spend any money on petrol, nor could he watch television or use mobile phone. He could just have 2 cups of tea and a packet of bread and was left with just Rs. 3 at the end of the day. This made him realize how difficult it is for the marginalized people to live each day.

For his own task, Rohit had to visit various religious places. This was concerned with the Right to Freedom of Religion. He visited a Hindu temple, a Bodhi temple, a Church and a Gurudwara and tried to understand different religions. He spoke to the different religious leaders and the people who were visiting at that particular time; but the reaction he got from people discouraged him. They began passing comments and inquiring the reason for why he is being so curious towards knowing their religion.

“Everyone thinks that their religion is supreme than other religions and they’re all rigid towards the practices of other religions. The people aren’t free in their thinking and cannot let others have their freedom as well,” says Rohit. “In a similar fashion I felt that we are only concerned about our rights but we forget that we have certain duties too, and we have to respect the rights of other individuals too.” He adds.

When asked about his experience of the public initiative and the learnings that he would take back, he says that “My experience as a Jagrik and a moderator is that many a times our ignorance pulls us back. The public initiative might be ending, but our journey of awareness should only aggravate from here. We should try to create experiences for ourselves that helps us in keeping the core ethos of this initiative alive. One way could be that all the Jagriks across the nation should make others aware every day and never let Samvidhan Live! end”

Anshika Maheshwari | TOC

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