What really is the idea of India? And how does it feel to be Indian? Would it not make us all very proud, if the response was – “I am India! And I am privileged to be Indian!”? A lot has to change if this is to be the response of each one.
At the minimum, we need to reframe Civics Education in our country – to enable a journey from widespread apathy to involved ownership.
While we are an electoral democracy but have a rather weak system to enforce our rights, we are far from imbibing the core aspects that can make us a powerful democracy.
Democracy ought to mean that we take full ownership of our country and make it what we want it to be. We use the government as a tool. We try and make them work the way we want or to deliver what they promised or is expected of them. We are Alert about what is going on, we Inform ourselves deeply about the issues and solutions and Actively participate in solving them, alone, in groups or alongside the government.
The second pillar of such a democracy is the deep insight that while individual rights are available to quite an extent, we cannot enjoy them fully without collective rights. And collective rights cannot be enjoyed without collective duties! Rights such as cleanliness, civility, secure and well-maintained hard and soft infrastructure, such as corruption-free government departments, judiciary that is connected and productive, etc. Unfortunately, this insight about ‘collective rights’ and ‘collective duties’ is neither provided for in the Constitution nor is it a widespread social custom nor a proactively taught concept in schools.
We need to move to Democracy 2.0 in which passive citizens evolve into ACTIZENS®️. There is no force stronger or more resilient than a collective ownership, the first step of which is collective awareness – alert and educated minds and passionate hearts. We always have some people who are ACTIZENS®️ because their hearts have moved. That is good but far from good enough unless all the minds have moved as well. Collectively we win, individually we fail.
But why redefining Civics Education?
Civics ought to give young people a framework to think about the political, legal and social systems of a country. Not just the superficial mechanics of it but a deeper understanding. Unless they understand that citizens’ problems are theirs and they have the bottom line responsibility to solve them, the core of Civics is missing.
The learning has to be:
That the problems which affect you provide politicians, bureaucrats, judiciary and the press a career path, but do not affect them! What affects your future may not affect theirs. So, wake up and work zealously to save your future and shape it.
The change in Civics Education would bring out clearly that for a democracy to succeed, every citizen has to display will, character and responsibility and possess skills to discharge their duty. It is, both, a joy and a challenge for us to help the schools (they are best positioned to bring this fundamental change in orientation) to develop the WILL and the SKILLs in youth.
‘I belong to India, India belongs to me. My voice is the voice of India. My actions are its future.’
Aao hum sab desh apnayen, chalta hai ko duur bhagayen, bhavishya bachayen, bhagya banaye…
Come, let us all collectively take ownership of India, guard our future and shape our destiny.
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