By Shweta Taneja
Samvidhan Live! campaign aims to increase awareness about fundamental rights and duties
Mumbai: The Samvidhan Live! campaign, which relaunches on National Constitution Day on 26 November, will teach youngsters about our fundamental rights and duties through a competitive game.
What binds a country as diverse as India, with different ethnicities, languages, cultures and religions, together?
“It’s the Constitution,” comes the reply from Ashraf Patel, co-founder and convener of ComMutiny—The Youth Collective (CYC), an organization that runs Samvidhan Live!, an experimental on-ground campaign last year, to educate the young about the Indian Constitution.
The campaign received a special mention in 2017 from the Digital Empowerment Foundation’s jury for social media and empowerment awards in the category of communication, advocacy and development activism for engaging the youth to promote a better understanding of the Indian Constitution.
Since CYC was launched in 2008, Patel and fellow founders—who work on youth development issues, have seen a huge gap in the understanding of youngsters about how democracy works, and fundamental rights and duties written down in the Constitution.
“Because the Constitution is not living laws, but a mere book to them,” said Patel, “something away from their everyday experiences, the young don’t engage with it, impeding their leadership abilities to work for societal and democratic change.”
The aim of the Samvidhan Live! campaign was simple: to engage young people through a game, so they begin to understand their rights and duties, and make them ponder on society and themselves. In 2016, the organization tied up with 30 other youth-led initiatives across the country and started to build the game. They received funding from Misereor, a Germany-based development fund, Oxfam India and DKA Austria and formally launched the campaign on 26 November.
The aim of the interactive game, which was played by two people per team, was to complete six tasks related to fundamental rights and six tasks related to fundamental duties in five weeks. Every week, each playing duo rolled a ‘Fundamental Rights and Fundamental Duties’ dice and got tasks assigned to them that were to be completed in that week.
“Tasks for rights included surviving for a day on the streets on Rs32 (poverty line cap), teaching underprivileged children to understand their rights, filing an online petition, interacting with religious leaders of different faiths or rescuing child labour, while tasks for duties included things like spending a night at a homeless shelter, switching gender roles, organizing health camps, raising funds for learning, or conducting environment and heritage walks and many other events,” said Patel.
In 2016, the organization tied up with 30 other youth-led initiatives across the country and started to build the game. They received funding from Misereor, a Germany-based development fund, Oxfam India and DKA Austria and formally launched the campaign on 26 November.
By the end of the campaign, 500 youngsters below the age of 30 years had participated in 15 states and performed 1,500 tasks offline.
The biggest challenge was running the project across regions and coordination. The team created extensive manuals and orientation packs of the gaming kit. They involved the participants and the member organizations in everything from design to implementation, decentralizing the effort so that everyone could perform the tasks their own way while learning through the mistakes of others. “We set up a Jagrik Facebook group for peer learning, sharing perspectives and experiences,” she said.
Social media not only helped in convergence of this huge community of volunteers and facilitators but also in dissemination of ideas. Since the aim was to make as many of the youth in as many states aware of the rights listed in the Constitution, the online audience was an important component.
“The participants, whom we call jagriks, were given additional points if they talked about their experience online, through a blog, through a website or a video on social media,” said Patel.
Turning it into a game helped as it made learning about rights and duties fun, and gained national media attention.
The combination of on-ground impact and online reach turned it into a vibrant national activity. When the event ended, more than 60 national newspapers covered the project and 100,000 citizens were engaged and made aware of their rights through websites, social media platforms and television.
All these platforms, said Patel, helped them collect data, aggregate it and narrate stories to lead to public action. “Just a standard android-based smartphone with a reliable 3G/4G connection connected us to people in remote rural areas, helped us create and post videos and photos and spread the word. It was powerful,” she muses.
The team is now gearing up for phase two of the campaign. Other than streamlining the game to make it more effective and add in learning from phase one, they also want to create a sustainable scale model so that the game can be independently introduced in schools, colleges, and by community youth organizations.