Youth of India are our present and future leaders. While both civil society and government has many programs striving to provide them formal education, we still lack in making them ‘literate’ about our Democracy. That is, there is no syllabus in our education system to impart literacy about the basic processes, laws, systems – and most importantly, values – of our great Democracy. Such literacy should ideally be inseparable from a complete education. Constitutional Literacy is, in fact, imperative if youth are to develop into active, aware, sensitive citizens and leaders of the country.
With this idea in mind, Anubhuti launched the “Constitution Literacy Inter-Collegiate Competitive Exam” on occassion of Indian Republic Day on 26th January last year. The idea was, what better way to understand “the idea of India” – our values, principles, legal framework, rights & responsibilities and the very spirit of democracy – than to study the Indian Constitution? This momentous document, which was put together after years of labour by Dr. B.R.Ambedkar along with other leaders of our freedom movement, gave shape to independent India and is lauded and studied throughout the world. A cursory reading of the Preamble shows us why. It is the embodiment of a true democracy, with values of equality, justice, equity, liberty, fraternity, soveriegnty, dignity and non-discrimination.
This was the second year of our flagship program where we increased the number of colleges from 8 to 11, and from few regions in Thane and Mumbai districts to Badlapur and Karjat in the interiors. The program this year added the unique component of Mental Health Justice whose base we at Anubhuti strongly feel is the Indian Constitution – unless fundamental rights as upheld by the Constitution are attained by the last person in the social hierarchy, we cannot ensure their mental health justice.
The entire program consists of students from different colleges registering for the exam; this year they were from the same colleges that we provided MH trainings throughout the year, and selected students from those colleges signed up for this exam as an advanced training. They are then given study material and constant guidance; Constitution experts set the question paper; registered students sit for the exam; papers are checked according to board exam rules; winners get cash prizes and most importantly, those interested sign up to join us as “Constitution Friends”.
115 students registered this year. We began with the first event on 24th October 2019 – Workshop on “Indian Constitution and Mental Health Justice”. We thank The SIA College, Dombivali (E) for being the venue and logistical partner for this event.
Advocate Darshan Ingole was the guest speaker who oriented the students on history, values, Preamble and importance of the Constitution for Indian democracy.
This was followed by a session by founder Deepa Pawar, who is leading this program as a Goalkeepers Youth Action Accelerator. She connected the constitutional framework to Mental Health Justice for diverse youth, especially of vulnerable communities. Social hierarchies and their effect on the mental health of diverse populations were discussed, along with how we can work against such injustice.
We are excited to have more youth from the second batch join us as “Constitution Friends”. Those from last year are already working with us for various aspects of social justice, especially Mental Health Justice.