Commutiny the Youth Collective’s project Samvidhan Live interested us from the word go. It was developed while Nishant and I were still Changelooms fellows in October 2016 when our mentor Kanika Sinha, was knee-deep into developing a board game that facilitated young people’s experiential engagement with the Constitution. We were interested from the word go.
However, of the many organisations participating in the game, we were only able to join in earlier this year and completed the exercise week before last with an end of the project reflection. Eight of our core group members participated as four pairs. Here are some of their ruminations from their journey.
They visited three heritage sites to complete one of their tasks. Safdarjung’s Tomb, Lodhi Garden and Humayun’s Tomb made their list.
Their primary struggle was overcoming their resistance to history related research. Since their experiences with subject had not been great, they had to push themselves to ask people for information.
They were fascinated by the comfortable presence of people from the transgender community, at the Safdarjung Tomb. This helped them think about the inclusive/ exclusive nature of public spaces in Delhi.
They also visited a religious centre for education to compare its practices to those they have seen in schools.
The Jagriks decided to go to a Madrasa- School of Islamic Studies. They discovered that these centres were relatively much more well kept and clean than any school premises they had seen.
After speaking to someone who worked at the Madrasa, they came to know that violence was quite prevalent there. They also felt uneasy about the lack of freedom given to the students in the space.
There was a week when they found a particularly difficult task to grapple with. They had to pledge for organ donation.
The Jagriks realised that their families would not give them the permission to make an independent choice about such matters. In addition to that, their religion and culture also didn’t encourage organ donation.
However, this didn’t stop them from looking at this as an opportunity for learning. They discovered that the procedure for donation is far from simple and generally takes a long time. They also came to know that sometimes organs are removed prematurely, which can lead to major problems.
With another task they had to explore their relationship with the environment. What are the sustainable practices in their everyday lives?
Their primary struggle was asking people to consider switching to more environmentally friendly options. In addition to that, they decided to feed their neighbourhood animals, and came to terms with the care and attention it required.
Their major takeaways were the changes they decided to make in their own lives. It was an opportunity for them to acknowledge the areas in which their contributions can make a difference.
They got a chance to think about their duties. They created some adolescent friendly amendments and closely analysed their loyalty towards the constitution.
They struggled to find information about their constitutional duties, especially when they didn’t have instant access to the internet.
Their major takeaway from the task was understanding the procedure around reporting, women’s harassment complaints.
They also had to speak to a child labourer, in order to complete their task.
Their primary struggle was convincing a young child to talk to them about his/her situation. They confronted a few individuals who showed no inclination to entertain their questions.
The Jagriks expressed that they did get a glimpse of the oppression, without actually having one-to-one conversations. According to them, the responsibility on the children itself was reflective of their burden.
With one of their tasks they explored the validity of the law that marks poverty lines are below Rs32.
They spent a whole day trying to survive within that measly sum.
They realized that the amount would get exhausted within the first few hours of their day. Ismail spent his money on petrol, while Nagma paid her mother their daily rent, and finished her cash at the washroom.
The Jagriks expressed that the law they experienced was extremely unfair and needed immediate attention.
Like Saddam and Jasmine, they too spent a day visiting heritage sites. Humayun’s Tomb, Lodhi Garden and Matka Shah’s Peer made the list.
Their primary struggle was asking people about these places and their history. The whole process of inquiry was harder than they had imagined.
Their major takeaway from the task was understanding how the origin of these various heritage sites is relevant to their existence today. They also got an opportunity to observe the distinct ways in which people interact within these public spaces.
With a simple board game, the Jagriks (that’s what the participants were called), would explore two tasks each week – one to be completed individually, and another with their partner. The tasks were based on the rights and duties that create the backbone of our Constitution. It is a powerful set of words, and I am tempted to say ‘especially now’. Through this game we discovered that it’s not just a set of words, but a living, breathing, dynamic text. We, who live in the world of theatre, where we know that the meaning of the written word lies in its performance, found the Constitution close to our worlds.