Indian School Of Democracy: Duo To Start Institute That Mentors India’s Youth To Be Politicians

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If today one asks a kid in India who his/her role model is, celebrities from Bollywood or cricket are the most familiar answers. Occasionally, a few might bring up yesteryear’s freedom fighters like Gandhiji or Netaji. 

“But why do we never find a role model among our present political leaders?” asks Prakhar Bhartiya, a youth activist and co-founder of Indian School of Democracy.

No one has ever become poor by giving
– Anne Frank

Today, politics in India is perceived as a dangerous abyss to step into, tainted with relentless corruption and delinquency. No matter how much a youngster is motivated to become a dynamic leader, he is almost always dissuaded by his family to get embroiled into politics.

This ingrained attitude of society cannot be uprooted in a day. This can only happen when people witness honest, upright young leaders marching onto the political scenario of the world’s biggest democracy.

With this thought in mind, Prakhar &  Hemakshi Meghani floated the idea of Indian School Of Democracy – an institution exclusively dedicated to mentoring promising aspirants into young political leaders, through a series of global-standard courses and exercises.

“We believe that external change is manifestation of internal change and that’s why the fundamental focus of ISD will be on inner transformation. We will cultivate a habit of reflection and community that will help them in the not so easy tasks of selfless community service.” shares Hemakshi.

Four Pillars Of Democracy

Prakhar Bhartiya, a Teach For India fellow, is also the founder of Youth Alliance – a popular forum for conscious young men and women to be trained into emphatic leaders.

“My experience with Youth Alliance assured me that it was indeed possible to prepare young minds for electoral politics. I wanted to start a platform where driven youths are trained to become leaders with a strong moral compass and take on the four pillars of democracy – executive, legislative, judiciary and media,” Prakhar explains.

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Indian School Of Democracy – The Blueprint

As per the present plan, Indian School of Democracy (ISD) will launch their one-year residential programme on leadership by next year. “The first-ever course will be centred around electoral politics. We will open our application portal in 2020 and expect our first cohort of selected students by 2021,” informs Prakhar.

The year-long programme will comprise theoretical sessions on politics, administration and other aspects of governance, as well as on-ground interactions with rural communities in remote hamlets to understand their woes and learn from them. Overall, the practice-oriented programme will ensure a holistic leadership training for the aspirants.

Moral Reimagination & Greater Participation Of Women

“To change the system, we need to focus on ‘moral reimagination’ – a practice we want to inculcate in our candidates,” shares Hemakshi, a graduate from Harvard Kennedy School in education policy and a former employee with Boston Consultancy Group. The ISD curriculum is thus being designed after interacting with politicians, academic experts and leadership coaches to render it foolproof.

Hemakshi throws light upon how ISD plans to encourage greater participation of women in politics.

At present, in a country of 1.3 billion people, the number of women politicians is woefully small, especially at the higher administrative levels. Thus, the idea persists that women’s grievances are not properly addressed by our government.

“While we should create more opportunities for women to enter politics, it is also important for political parties to readily welcome and accept more and more women. It has to be a two-pronged approach. This idea will be imparted at all ISD session. We are ensuring 50% participation of women in our present workshops,” Hemakshi informs.

A Meticulous & Non-Biased Selection Process

“We have a tedious selection process for every single government job. So, why don’t our politicians have to undergo any sort of screening before they occupy the highest seats of democracy and govern us?” Prakhar asks.

Indian School of Democracy

To ensure that the ISD programme identifies and generates the best youth leaders, Prakhar and Hemakshi have decided to dole out a meticulous selection procedure for the programme. Aspirants from all around the country will be shortlisted based on their leadership potential, merit and sincerity, irrespective of their gender, religion or socio-economic background. The age limit has been set between 25 and 40 years.

Laying The Groundwork

As of now, the core founding team of ISD is conducting awareness campaigns and two-three day workshops across India to gain an in-depth insight into the youth mindset in India while also spreading the word about their ISD initiative.

Their interactive brainstorming sessions with politically motivated youth in different cities, towns and villages in India are helping them see the bigger picture of the future of Indian politics. Prakhar and Hemakshi believe that this will help them to leave no loose ends in their course programme design.

“By the final month of their ISD training programme, they have to finalise the constituencies they wish to contest from. They have to live up to the expectations of the people they choose to serve,” Prakhar expresses his true hopes about ISD.

A Non-Partisan Political Organisation

As an organisation, ISD would be staying completely non-partisan and house candidates with different political ideologies together, who, after their graduation, are free to join the political party of their choice.

The idea, as the two founders believe, is to uphold the democratic ideals above everything else at the organisation, so as to acquaint the youths in various facets of democracy instead of encouraging sentimental politics driven by personal viewpoints.

“The larger idea of politics is public service. We are striving to bring back that idealistic firmness in politics, over and above its darker connotations,” Prakhar emphasises.

“If we fast forward to say, a decade ahead, I wish to see our graduates gaining prominence as new-age leaders, ushering in a different spectrum in the Indian political scene,” he expresses his wish.

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It's not how much we give
but how much love we put into giving.
- Mother Theresa Quote

‘Happy Fridge’: The Key To Bridge Food Wastage And Hunger Problem In India

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Rahul Khera and Gautam Jindal, volunteers (aka hunger heroes) at Feeding India, were among the many Delhi NCR residents accustomed to seeing hungry children pick up half-eaten burgers or stale sandwiches from the dustbin and savour those with the brightest smiles. Like many others, they also had the will to promote equitable food distribution but was perplexed about the approach, until they learnt about the community fridge initiative which has gained unprecedented success in Saudi Arabia and few other European countries. Meanwhile, community fridges were already being installed outside restaurants or in public places in a handful of cities like Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Coimbatore and Kochi.

Say Goodbye To Throwing Away Excess Food Because Now You Can Donate The Food To The Needy – Happy Fridge

Thank you for overwhelming response for the Happy Fridge concept. We need more funds from you to install more fridges like this across India. With the limited funds avaialble Feeding India was able to install three fridges only. Kindly donate here http://bit.ly/happyfridge

Posted by The Logical Indian on Saturday, October 27, 2018

Needless to mention, with a shocking 103rd rank in the Global Hunger Index and a food wastage estimate of around Rs 58,000 crore – India was perhaps the best country to implement such an initiative. With Gautam’s help, an enthusiastic Rahul invested his own savings to install a ‘Happy Fridge’ outside his residence at Sun City, Sector 54 in Gurgaon. Set up in 2017 by these Feeding India volunteers, the fridge in Gurgaon has inspired the NGO to scale up the project across India.

No one has ever become poor by giving
– Anne Frank

‘Happy Fridge’ fostered many smiles

It didn’t take long for the local residents to learn about this laudable endeavour. They welcomed it, as wastage of excess food was a recurring problem in almost every household. “Intimating the localities was no mammoth task, thanks to social media. However, it was difficult to spread the word among those who actually needed the food,” shares Rahul, who went from auto stands to slums, inviting rickshaw pullers, ragpickers or roadside vendors to avail the community fridge any time they feel hungry. “The security guards of our residential complex played a huge role in explaining how the fridge works to the beneficiaries,” he adds.

The operational and maintenance costs of the ‘ happy fridge ‘ are being maintained diligently by the community members.

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Making memories, sprouting awareness

“I remember one young man who had arrived from a village looking for some menial day job. Somehow he had run out of his paltry savings and had no money to buy one decent meal a day. For about a month, our happy fridge was his solace, till he earned his first salary from a housekeeping job,” shares a jubilant Rahul.

In another incident, a truck driver returning in the wee hours of midnight was starving after a whole day’s hard work. He had run out of cooking fuel at his home, so our fridge was at his rescue.

“The residents keep all sorts of palatable dishes in the happy fridge, ranging from dry snacks, fruits to cooked meals. Sometimes, they even keep raw vegetables, to ensure not a single bit of good food ends up in their trash while other people go hungry to bed,” reveals Rahul.

On an average, each happy fridge supplies around 10-15 meals in a day. The gratitude and pure smiles of the hungry souls after a fulfilling meal are more than enough to continue to motivate Rahul and his neighbours. In fact, inspired by him, many other communities in the Delhi-NCR region set up community fridges in their areas.

Feeding India will set up 500 Happy Fridges

Since the past few years, Feeding India has been a prominent organisation working in the forefront to solve the hunger problem in India. Primarily, they were involved in redistributing leftover food from weddings and parties among the underprivileged people in different cities of India. Their volunteers, better known as “Hunger Heroes of India”, worked actively to bridge the gap between food wastage and food crisis.

“We used to get a lot of calls from individual households to collect their excess food. However, unfortunately, we lacked the manpower and planning to launch our programme on a door to door basis. We were desperately looking for an alternative when we learnt about the community fridges,” shares Srishti Jain, co-founder of Feeding India.

After interacting with Rahul Khera and other campaigners of community fridges, Feeding India decided to amplify this extraordinary project throughout the length and breadth of India. Presently, they have launched the #FightFoodWaste campaign to install 500 community fridges – nicknamed ‘ Happy Fridge ’. So any passer-by – be it a kid going to school without a lunchbox, or a labourer returning home late at night with no promise of a dinner – can now grab a pack of biscuits or a bowl of ‘dal-chawal’ (rice & lentil soup) to satiate their hunger. Click here to contribute for ‘ Happy Fridge ‘ and ensure India never sleeps hungry again.

Feeding India also urges everyone to make a promise to stop wasting food and instead consider donating it to those in need.

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Quote
It's not how much we give
but how much love we put into giving.
- Mother Theresa Quote
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