Jan Sansad/The Peoples’ Parliament
The idea of Jan Sansad is to provide a catalyst for dialogue at the grassroots level. Jan Sansad is proposed to be held every month on Amavasya, a day of rest in rural India, so that people can attend without losing their livlihood. Invitations are sent to people to gather at Loktantrashala to discuss a topic of current interest. Jan Sansads have discussed implementation of Right to Information, the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act and the role of women in local self government, political ideologies and election manifestos, development and many more such issues. It is held in Loktantrashala’s main meeting hall, a circular dome shaped building whose circular design ensures that people sit facing each other, embodying the concept of equality in speech.
To connect with the youth from around SFD, a Youth Convention, also known as Yuva Chintan Shivir and a Summer Camp, for school going kids is organised every year in the Summer. While the youth are addressed on the issues of economy, religion, discrimination, culture, the kids are generally taught about values through games, theatre, and fun activities or workshops conducted over a span of 3 days.
The Loktantrashala celebrates with zeal days of the year that hold democratic importance.
The day with the hoisting of the National Flag and it went onto be a day of inspiring democratic discourse. Over 100 people from villages around Loktantrashala gathered at the campus and participated in the celebrations. Students displayed several talents including singing of patriotic songs, reciting poetry and sketching. Members of Loktantrashala and MKSS staged “Uplabhyan” a short nukad natak. Veteran activists and teachers from nearby schools delivered motivating speeches. Old men and women who had joined the sansad discussed the issue of pension and pledged solidarity to the Pension Parishad. A written pledge to preserve constitutional rights was signed by all participants and the day ended with sweets and namkeen.
26th November is the day the Indian Constitution was adopted by its constituent assembly commemorating PurnaSwaraj declaration of 1930. Loktantrashala celebrated this day with a constitution rally and a special nukad natak. The foot rally started from Badi Ka Badia (SFD Campus) and after covering 4 kms and an entire circle of Bhim, reached the SDM office. The trainees then staged a short nuked natak (street play) on constitutional rights outside the SDM office. The play engaged with the public and culminated in a mass oath taking. Members of Loktantrashala, the trainees, the public and even government officials pledged solidarity upon the reading of the Preamble to the Constitution. After all this, the trainees visited the SDM office and Bhim Police Station and had face-to-face interactions with the SDM and Circle Inspector respectively. The Day ended with a sathsang, singing songs of the sangatan back in the SFD campus.
SFD joined hands with MKSS and DAGAR to celebrate the birth jayanthi of Babasaheb Ambedkar. A grand Jan Samwad was organized at Vijaypura panchayat and Loktantrashala participated in full strength. A bike rally was undertaken from the Panchayat Smiti to the Ambedkar statue situated in the main market junction and back. Leaders and members representing several dalit groups addressed the gathering. Aruna Roy who addressed the gathering spoke of the importance of constitutional awareness and pledged Loktantrashala’s complete efforts in spreading this. She urged the audience to use the campus and gain as much as possible from the facilities that are being set up.
August 15 is the day when the Indian state became sovereign and this date marks the beginning of a new social contract between the state and its people. School for Democracy celebrated Independence day by inviting young people to tell us what independence means for them. School children from the nearby villages of Shivpur and Thana dropped in for a flag hoisting ceremony and stayed on to narrate their experiences. Independence from illiteracy, hunger and want, these were some of the themes discussed. The day was rounded off with sports. Cricket, volleyball and football were played with gusto by the kids and SFD staff.