Enabling Active Citizenship in Indian Cities
Our environment is degrading at a rapid pace; our city governments cannot tackle this crisis alone. We need greater societal engagement and local action where citizens can play a critical role in representing needs on the ground, driving new imaginations, and helping solve civic issues.
Yet currently, engaged citizens face many hurdles in understanding the sector, accessing technical knowledge and navigating the opaque governance systems. This results in a lot of wasted time and resources. For example, rejuvenation efforts for a single lake are known to become decade-long battles. While even a small issue of cleaning up a local garbage dump has to be solved numerous times over, and these urban problems exist in every city.
To solve the civic and environmental issues at scale, we need ‘Active Citizens’ in every neighbourhood & civic literacy in every home!
The question is:
How do we support and encourage citizens in their journey toward Active Citizenship?
We have used the last six years of our experience working at the intersection of urban planning and governance to develop ‘Citizen First’. It is an application-oriented, practitioner-led learning program to capacitate citizens engaging in the civic space. It combines essential domain knowledge and on-ground insights from practice with field exposure and hands-on training in vital tools/software.
The goal is to radically cut short an individual or community’s learning curve from several years to a few weeks & strengthen their capacity to participate in a meaningful and sustained manner. The modules are provided as a combination of hands-on workshops and masterclass formats, aimed at students, professionals and local residents.
The impact we seek to produce is to -
Build a cadre of trained and driven individuals across Indian cities
Enable discovery of multiple entry points for citizens to engage effectively and meaningfully, be it as a civic volunteer, member of a community group, change advocate, or leading a community project.
Support the advancement of SDGs through local action
Over the next 1.5 years, we seek to develop 20 learning modules and engage ~ 650 citizens through a total of 55 workshops.
The first 6 months are focused on module development and running pilots to test effectiveness and value add for citizens as well as explore avenues for automation. While the following year, the focus will be to create a digital library of master classes to enable a larger number of participants to access the knowledge and provide a platform for the citizens to connect and collaborate as an ecosystem.
We are looking for support of INR 10,00,000 to cover 60% of the ‘fixed costs’ of module development and base set up.
This will help us to fulfill two principal goals:
Ensure workshop fees are kept low and affordable to all, and they are only required to cover operations.
Make the programme self-sustaining from day 1. This is to allow for a part of the revenue to be re-invested in the module refinement, build digital libraries as well as provide scholarships to those in need.