The School for Democracy (SFD) or Loktantrashala, is dedicated to promoting and deepening democratic education and learning in India. It is conceived as a space that will enable eclectic groups of adult learners from diverse social and educational backgrounds to learn about the theory and practice of a functioning democracy. Loktantrashala is committed to the values enshrined in the Constitution of India, which inspire and frame all our activities. The school aims to develop effective tools and techniques of democratic education, while engaging actively with the challenges of fashioning a more equal, just and participatory democracy.
The School for Democracy is dedicated to deepening democratic education within the framework of the Indian Constitution. It will address the socio-economic, political and cultural aspects of a working democracy through themes defined by the needs of the learners. The curricula will cover a broad range of constitutional and democratic issues. It will respond to the needs of learners engaged with issues of governance, people’s participation in decision making and establishing accountability.
The School for Democracy (SFD) is located in a village called Badi Ka Badiya, in the district of Bhilwara, in Rajasthan. It is four kilometers away from the town of Bhim, which lies on the Delhi–Mumbai National Highway (NH 8). The campus is built in a two-acre land with contributions raised from Indian and non-institutional donors. The construction had been based on a collective architectural design using local technology.
The infrastructure in the campus includes a meeting hall, two training halls, an office, library, residential blocks, mess and a dining hall. The facilities are modest and basic. The School provides simple bedding and basic food. There is adequate covered space for classroom activities.
Satish Deshpande serves as Professor, Department of Sociology, at the Delhi School of Economics. He is a prolific writer and speaker on issues of caste inequalities and its manifestations in contemporary Indian society. He has served as a Member of the Expert Group on Equal Opportunity Commission, Government of India, during 2007-08. He also held editorial positions in a number of national and international bulletins and was an adviser for the sociology text books of the NCERT.
Naurti Devi is a grassroots women’s activist. She has fought against the issues of child marriage, rape and sati. She won the battle for minimum wages in the Supreme Court. She served as the Sarpanch of Harmara Gram Panchayat in Ajmer district and played a leadership role in the formation of Rajasthan Mahila Morcha, an organisation of more than 5000 women.
Lal Singh is a social activist and one of the founding members of the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangatan (MKSS). He played a pivotal role in the struggles for the Right to Information (RTI) and the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA). His astute political understanding and sound knowledge about the rural economy make him a right choice for a ‘political trainer’.
Aruna Roy is a social and political activist. She is one of the founding members of the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangatan (MKSS) and played a key role in the campaigns for the right to information (RTI) and the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA). She was the member of the National Advisory Council during 2004-06, and 2010-13. She is a prominent member of many campaigns, and currently the President of the National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW). She was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 2000, the Nani Palkiwala Award and the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Award for Excellence in Public Administration, Academia and Management in 2010. She is also a member of the advisory board to the Comptroller and Auditor General, India.
Bajrang Lal Sharma
Bajrang Lal Sharma had a long career in the Rajasthan Administrative Service (RAS). He worked with the government for more than three decades. During his engagement with the government he regularly interacted with voluntary organizations. His areas of interest include issues related to land, rural development, education and rehabilitation. He lives in Udaipur.
Ramkaran is a gender trainer and community mobiliser working with the Social Work Research Centre (SWRC), Tilonia. He started his career of community service at the age of 15 by teaching village women. His understanding of gender issues at village level and the conditioning of the social practices intertwined to it made his interventions effective.
Shankar Singh is a social and political activist, master communicator and one of the founding members of the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangatan (MKSS). His exceptional qualities as a communicator have helped the campaigns for right to information, right to work, etc., to have a mass appeal among the larger public. Through puppet show, songs, slogans, skits, etc., he conveys even the most intricate political message in a simple yet powerful language.
Dr Vipul Mudgal has been a journalist and academic in India, the UK, and South East Asia for over 30 years. He has held senior editorial positions at various media houses in Asia. He headed operations in print, electronic and Internet media in India and abroad. As an activist and a media scholar, he writes and works on the intersections of media, democracy and political violence.
Nachiket Udupa works in the agriculture sector and has been associated with the MKSS and allied campaigns since 2010. He has previously worked in the field of education.
Lal Singh Ji is the secretary of School for Democracy-Loktantrashala. He is also one of the founding members of the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sanghthan. His love for Kabir’s dohas, Krishnamurti’s take on life, and his coherent understanding of people and politics in rural India make him an asset to the space we wish to create through the School for Democracy.
Reny is the academic coordinator at SFD. Originally from Mangad village in Kerala, he went on to study economics at Loyola College. He worked with Gramvikas in Orissa and the MKSS before joining SFD in 2015. He brings structure and discipline to our team.
Jeetender is in charge of the accounts and finances at SFD. He is pursuing his Bachelors of Arts through open university. Jeetu is from a small village called Mundoti in Ajmer district, Rajasthan. He joined SFD after his schooling, in 2015.
Taru is in charge of the video documentation of all of SFD’s activities on and off campus. He is from Sohangarh, a village close to the campus and this familiarity with the communities and villages around help us in our outreach, planning and organising activities in villages around us. He joined us in the year 2013.
Bhanwar ji helps at the mess and is in charge of campus maintenance. He is a farmer, expert sweetmaker, and a quiet, hardworking member of the team. He has played different roles all his life in different parts of the country and even helped in the construction of the buildings on campus. He joined us in 2012.
Lakhan is the mess-in-charge at SFD. He formerly worked with the SWRC in Tilonia and then joined us in 2014. When he is around, fun and laughter are sure to follow.
Avinash takes care of the Delhi chapter of the School for Democracy. He organises charchas and democracy dialogues in colleges across Delhi. He is originally from Bihar but has been associated with the School for Democracy since 2014.
Laxman is in charge of documentation support. His artisic sensibilities are often put to use in all our mobile exhibitions, posters, and so on.
Engineer by Graduation and a Young India Fellow, Nawaz is associated with the Constitutional Values Fellowship. He is from Hyderabad and joined us in 2019 after having worked in the Oil Industry, Media and Political Consulting.
Laxmi is from Saddharan and helps at the mess and with campus maintainance. She joined us in 2015.
Santosh manages the Documentation Centre at SFD. She is from Devdungri and is pursuing her Bachelor’s of Arts from Bhim.