Saloni Singh had never noticed the hard work done by safai karamcharis – the people who clean up her school – until she started playing a game called Be A Jagrik. Saloni, 15, studies in 11th grade in Jamshedpur Public School in Jamshedpur, Jharkhand. She and other students from her school are playing a task-based game which enables them to practice the values of the Indian Constitution and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“I believe that even a small action can make a big impact. My classmate and I got a task to understand the right to equality. We had to speak to people who clean up our school. After speaking to three sanitation workers, I came to appreciate the hard work they do and now I respect them even more. I feel that we never noticed them before. We need to talk to people who do so much for us,” says Saloni.
As a part of another task related to sustainability, Saloni avoided the use of private transport and went to the market and school by foot for a week. She did not use any plastic bags. “I found that cloth bags are better alternatives to plastic as they are more durable than plastic bags and biodegradable,” she says. Saloni plans to continue these practices to reduce her carbon footprint and live a greener lifestyle.
Saloni feels that although people know about their rights, they are usually unaware of their responsibilities. She says:
“The Constitution gives us a set of rights and freedoms but now I know that as a citizen I also have to perform certain duties.”
Saloni is one of the 1,500 Jagriks who will be playing the Be A Jagrik game this year.
A game for social change
The last decade has seen the emergence of a new genre of games – games that are used to create positive social change. Most of these games are played on mobile phones and computers but there are also some games which are designed to be played on the ground. Be A Jagrik is one such game which enables young people to become aware of their rights and responsibilities by performing a series of social action projects. This 5-week experiential learning journey is a part of a larger campaign with the same name that intends to transform young people into aware and responsible citizens of India and the world.
Be A Jagrik is a public initiative by ComMutiny The Youth Collective (CYC), a collective of youth-led and youth-centric organisations in India. Its funding partners are United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), DKA Austria and Misereor. It is facilitated by 32 partner organisations in 14 states across India. It was launched on 2 October 2018 and currently Jagrik facilitators are co-creating learning journeys along with young people across various parts of India.
New features, improved game
In 2016, Be A Jagrik started as Samvidhan LIVE!. It ran as a campaign successfully for two years. Initially its focus was to enable youth to become truly aware of the Indian constitution. Based on the lessons learnt over the years, CYC decided to improve the campaign so that youth could envision what they want for the world, apart from their country. And therefore, in 2018, the campaign was renamed Be A Jagrik and it was expanded to include the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) .
Also known as the global goals, the SDGs are a call to action for all citizens of the world. They intend to make the world a more equal, peaceful, prosperous and sustainable place. These are 17 goals created by the United Nations in 2015 that cover all the issues related to the social and economic development of the world such as ending poverty, achieving gender justice, consuming consciously and protecting the planet – to name a few.
Once a Jagrik, forever a Jagrik
Yeh Ek Soch (YES) Foundation has participated in Be A Jagrik for the last two years. This year YES is one of the partner organisations anchoring the campaign regionally by leading 11 organisations spread across Uttar Pradesh.
“Every now and then, we come across the mention of the Constitution on news channels. People often say that they have faith in the constitution but most of the time we have no clue what they mean. Not only are many of us unaware of our rights but there is hardly any discussion about our duties as citizens. For instance, if we see a person dying in an accident on the road, how many of us stop to help? This is why we need to provide a platform where young people can learn how to be good citizens and Be A Jagrik does just that. This is why we are participating in the campaign again,” says Zeeshan Mohammad, Co-Founder and Executive Director, YES Foundation.
“This game will impact youth for an entire lifetime. YES will be taking Be A Jagrik to out-of-school adolescents and youth in slums as well as students in 5 colleges and 5 universities in Lucknow. We’re hoping to reach more than 12,000 youth in Uttar Pradesh alone with our partners,” he adds.
Roll the dice, spin the bottle, do the tasks
All participating organisations are provided with Be A Jagrik game kit and facilitation module. The game kit is a box that includes a game board, cards depicting tasks, dice etc. First, the partner organisations go to schools, colleges and youth groups in their communities to do a mobilisation adda (an informal meeting) where they introduce Be A Jagrik to a large gathering of young people. Participants sign up for the game voluntarily and attend an orientation event where they familiarise themselves with the game and find a partner to form the Jagrik pair.
Then onwards for the next 5 weeks, Jagriks get together weekly. They start by spinning a bottle which lands on one of these lenses – social, economic or environmental. Then they also roll the dice based on which they pick rights and duties cards.
All Jagriks do two kinds of tasks – social tasks are the ones they perform with their partner and self tasks are the ones that they have to do on their own. Jagriks accumulate points as they complete their tasks and also help each other in completing tasks. This makes the game collaborative instead of competitive.
Promise collection & duty bearers
This year sees the addition of two brand new features to the Be A Jagrik campaign – promise collection and interaction with duty bearers. Simply put, a promise is a change that a young person wants to see in the world. Young people write down the promises they want duty bearers to fulfill and these are collected during the mobilisation addas as well as throughout the course of the game.
A duty bearer is any person with authority or official charge who can help Jagriks achieve these promises by committing to work towards their fulfillment.
Priyanka Sarkar, who works as a Communications Consultant with CYC explains, “The act of putting forth their voices to create promises gives young people a sense of leadership as they represent not only themselves but their friends, family, community and country. The idea is to make their voice heard and improve their political participation and community leadership. We intend to collate these promises and create an adolescent and youth manifesto for governance at the national and state levels, which will be used for advocacy at a larger scale.”
Learning lifelong lessons over 5 weeks
Sukannyaa Lahon, 24, an Associate Coordinator with Pravah is anchoring the campaign within her organisation. She says, “Last time we did the campaign with NSS volunteers from 4 colleges in Delhi University with around 45 to 50 volunteers. One of the tasks was to visit three different places of worship around the Kalkaji neighbourhood in Delhi. Jagriks visited the local church, gurudwara and mosque. They found these visits very relevant in today’s context when communal tensions are on the rise in India. They were able get a deeper understanding of other religions and
could also see how politicized religion has become. I was so inspired from this that I decided to anchor this year’s campaign. ”
This year Pravah is doing the Be A Jagrik campaign in Deshbandhu College in Delhi University with NSS volunteers. They have already organised mobilisation addas which were attended by 270 students. The campaign will start in Deshbandhu College in the first week of January 2019 and Pravah will have a culmination event in February 2019.
Rehana Qureshi, 32, is a resident of Ahmedabad and works as Programme Coordinator at Ujra Ghar, a non-profit organisation based in Gujarat. She has been a Jagrik facilitator for the past two years. “I was interested in anchoring the project at Urja Ghar because it creates a beautiful space to understand and experience the constitution. Young people find it easy to connect the dots this way. Besides, it’s not boring at all,” she says.
This year Urja Ghar is doing the Be A Jagrik campaign with 40-45 students between the age of 13 to 15 years in two private schools in Ahmedabad. “We started by holding mobilisation addas which were attended by over 120 children in each school…We have already collected 150 promises and we intend to collect another 100. The students will present their promises to the duty bearers in their school i.e. their school principal and teaching staff,” says Rehana.
Rehana shares an example of a task that made a deep impact on a Jagrik pair. “Two students did a task under the right to equality card – they had to investigate the source of water in their own neighbourhood for three different kinds of households. After they spoke to their neighbours, they realised they were completely unaware of the difficulties faced by them. The neighbours get municipal water which is often contaminated and it flows in the tap for just an hour everyday. They came to see how privileged they are because they have access to groundwater drawn by a motor and they do not rely on sarkari paani. Initially, the Jagriks found it awkward to speak about this subject with their neighbours but this task taught them how to initiate and hold a conversation on issues that affect their community members,” says Rehana.
Be A Jagrik has touched the lives of 1,200 young people and reached 5,00,000 people online and on the ground over the last two years and intends to reach another 1,56,000 adolescents and 6,000 young people this year. The campaign will end with a national-level culmination event on 26 January 2019 which will bring together Jagriks from all states to celebrate their learning and leadership journey.
Be A Jagrik is a massive campaign which intends to make a huge impact. We need your support. If you like what we are doing, contribute to our crowdfunding campaign on Global Giving
Many Jagriks have been inspired to initiate social action in their communities. You might like to read the story of Ankita, a Jagrik who spent a night under a flyover in a slum in Kolkata. After realising there was no public toilet for women there, she got a toilet made in that area after speaking to the local authorities.