India needs to focus on civic education to create engaged citizens.
As one of the speakers said, quoting Jefferson, “Democracy is not instinctive; it has to be taught.” That is a lesson we in India need to take to heart. During the election campaigning last year, I could not but help feel that Middle India has shut itself off from India’s political process. Or as Swapan Dasgupta put it, there has been a “secession of the successful.” We have lost a couple of generations since Independence because we didn’t teach them about the responsibilities of being a citizen of a democracy. (Of course, we even failed in delivering basic services like primary education and healthcare to all – so this is no surprise.)
But we need to make a start. Instead of making civics in schools as boring as it is now, we could start by inculcating a sense of societal service in students through national institutions. (Think of the Boy Scouts in the US.) If we can start this at an early age, the mindset of social service and civic engagement will stay through the years.