Sandip Akhade at a Sanvidhan Pracharak workshop at SM Joshi Foundation in Pune.
Pune: Over 50 students from various colleges stood in a circle in a hall at S M Joshi Socialist Foundation in Pune. Over 60 paper balls, representing fruits, were kept at the centre and the instructors asked all of them to pick the fruits according to their hunger. Many grabbed 9-10 fruits, a few got 3-4, while some could not manage to get any. This scene is from a two-day Sanvidhan Workshop in Maharashtra, through which a group of youngsters is spreading knowledge of the Constitution, its values and what they mean in practical life.
Following the picking of fruits, the instructor asked the students why they picked 9-10 fruits, even as others didn’t get any. The answers were varied – some said that they were hungry so they picked the maximum number of fruits, others said that they could not reach the balls due to the crowd, while a few said that they wanted to leave the fruits for others as well.
The instructor, Sandip Akhade, explained to the participants of the two-day Sanvidhan Workshop that the Constitution, which is like a rulebook, was created after independence in order to make sure that everybody can avail the benefits of resources equally. He added that, otherwise those who had power would have got hold of the maximum resources like it had happened during the game that they just took part in.
Akhade, who has done his Masters in Social Work and has been working as social worker for a couple of years across the state, told NewsClick, “During the interactions with rural population, tribal, nomadic, de-notified, women and even many students studying in Pune, we realised that they are either not aware of the Constitution itself or the meaning of values enshrined in the Constitution. Hence, I came up with this idea one year ago.”
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The S M Joshi Socialist Foundation and a group of youths along with Sandip Akhade have been holding such workshops for one year. Akhade said, “We have conducted 11 one-day workshops, three 2-day and one 5-day workshops at nine districts in Maharashtra in the last one year and over 750 youngsters have attended. These 750 Sanvidhan Pracharaks now create awareness among their families, friends, and relatives and so on.”
The Government of India, on the occasion of the 70th Constitution Day on November 26, 2019, announced that it will launch a campaign to create awareness about fundamental duties among the citizens. On the other hand, youngsters from Pune have been doing the same for a year now.
The group begins with how the Constitution came into existence and the Constituent Assembly of India. Then they explain the meaning of the Preamble and what is social, economic and political justice means in daily life. Participants are also taught about freedom of expression, belief, faith and worship, and how they can be interpreted in ones daily life. There are also lessons on equality of status and opportunity, and so on.
Sambhaji Bhagat, a dalit activist, revolutionary balladeer and music composer, who had also conducted one session in the last workshop, said that it is high-time that citizens are educated about their rights. He said, “The policies of this government since 2014, including demonetisation, GST and, now CAA and removal of Article 370 are unconstitutional and people need to understand that.”
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Pramod Kale, a campaigner from Srigonda tehsil in Ahmednagar district, who has conducted workshops at five government schools in his tehsil, said that students are aware of the Constitution and even about the Preamble. Pointing at the placards placed outside the hall of workshop that read, ‘equality=one person, one vote’, ‘Constitution declares man and woman equal’, among others, he said, “Students cannot connect the values enshrined in the Constitution to their day to day life. Teachers or even our books don’t explain the Constitution in that way.”
He added, “Students don’t understand that communal statements by politicians are illegal. They think leaders are in power and can speak whatever they want.”
Akshada Bankar, a BSc Nursing student, who is attending the workshop told NewsClick that she has got an insight about the values written in the Preamble including equality, justice, secularism, socialism and scientific temperament. She said, “If I am outside till late night I feel guilty. But this workshop has helped me understand that to walk free anytime and anywhere is my right. And boys who evetease girls who roam around late night or wear western dresses don’t have the right to do this.”
Kale also added that the group is planning to arrange workshops at each Tehsil in Maharashtra this year.
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