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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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Goonj Is Working With 1000’s Of Volunteers & Partner NGOs To Provide Covid-19 Relief In 18 States

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With the extension of the lockdown the crisis of migrant labourers and daily wagers has just grown bigger due to uncertainty and fear of future. In the migrant colonies, slums and for people in the villages hunger and desperation is building up day by day. This is high time we step up our efforts to support our people who are in dire need of food and hygiene essentials to survive the pandemic, Covid-19.

After the India-wide lockdown, a lot of jobless migrant workers are stuck in cities with hardly any resources while many started retreating back to their villages. With the loss of livelihoods, a large number of them are now struggling to support their families.

Goonj activated its pan India teams and a pan India network of partner organizations and volunteers in urban and rural India. This network, built over the last two decades, helps them learn from the ground, reach material quickly and review and adapt strategy periodically. Intensifying this network has helped Goonj reach and start work across 17produced states/UT in the last three weeks.
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Goonj’s focus: 

Majority of the Covid-19 relief work by non profits right now is in the metros and cities but Goonj is the only non profit that is also simultaneously focusing on the people in the villages and the ones stuck on highways or somewhere.

Goonj is targeting daily wagers, migrants and other vulnerable groups, who even traditionally are left out like the disabled, sex workers, LGBTQ community.

“COVID-19 is a crisis, yes…But, it’s also an opportunity for us to build the society anew. Not ‘for’ the people…but, ‘with’ the people. And in the process, we will build ourselves too.” – Anshu Gupta, Founder-Director, Goonj.

Direct Monetary and Material Transfer

Wherever Goonj got the permission to open their centres for packing and disbursement of relief material kits, they are creating a kit consisting of 20-30 kgs material including dry rations, masks, sanitary pads and other hygiene material and reaching them to people, as per needs and as per regulations with all safety precautions. This kit will help a family survive for 30 days.

Information till 10th April 2020:

  • Distributed 15,100 ration kits reaching thousands of people
  • Reached 17,700 families
  • Supporting 12 community kitchen across India with 16,600kgs of ration
  • 77,800 food packets provided to migrant laborers and daily wagers walking on the roads across the country.
  • Provided direct financial support to 32 organisations
  • Made 42,800 cloth face masks
  • 24,900 cloth sanitary napkins produced
  • Produced 1500 litres of organic sanitiser

In Goonj’s processing centers its trained team of women are making cloth face masks and cloth sanitary pads (MY-Pads), keeping all the precautions and with the permission and cooperation of the local authorities.

In this lock-down phase if you are facing any difficulty getting sanitary pads or you are running out of stock, here’s a detailed but very simple process of making Cloth Pads at home created by Goonj. “This is how we make Goonj MY Pads.” This is how our mothers and grandmothers turned their spare cloth into pads.

This disaster, unlike any other, is unprecedented in its scale and impact and that’s why we all must do our bit with Goonj to continue its relief work for millions of people in this still unfolding long-tailed disaster.

The need is huge.. We are there.. Need You too !!

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It's not how much we give
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- Mother Theresa Quote
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