Active Citizenship

The mindset of a responsible citizen

October is a special month for all Indians. We celebrate the birth and the life of the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi. How to be strong, aware and responsible citizens of the country and the world at large are among the various lessons he left behind for all of us. Our first blog of October focuses on these very important traits. The question we are asking is ‘what are the traits of a responsible citizen’?
When exploring concepts of good citizenship, it’s vital to realize these aren’t just “nice ideas” that make the world a better place but have practical applications as well. Being a good citizen is about developing a global perspective. It is about contributing responsibly to your locality, your city, country and eventually to humanity.
The primary duty of citizenship, according to Gandhiji, is the obligation to change oneself and one’s community for the betterment of all, in a spirit of social service. The depth of this statement resonates with us even today. As our founder Shri vallabh Bhanshali said in our September newsletter, ‘change is constant, and intelligent people must reimagine relentlessly. Nature prompts us to re-launch ourselves all the time.’ As citizens, we have an obligation to be smart, imaginative and responsible. To read this incredible interview, please click here.
Gandhiji also adds responsible citizenship is about exercising one’s positive freedom. Positive freedom is freedom acquired through insight, reflection and political education. Hence, a responsible citizen is a thinking citizen. Let us not underestimate the power of education in molding our collective citizenship conscience. Education for us at Desh Apnayen is the only plausible weapon to create scalable change and generating an army of empowered, aware and thinking citizens. (This has only strengthened our contribution to education. To see how Desh Apnayen is transforming civics education in the country, click here. )
Dennis Dalton, a professor of Political Science at Columbia University and a noted Gandhi scholar says that according to the Mahatma, “Swaraj of a people means the sum total of the swaraj (self-role) of individuals. And such swaraj comes only form performance by individuals of their duty as citizens. In it, no one thinks of his rights. They come, when they are needed, for better performance of duty.” A responsible citizen is altruistic, concerned with a larger, nobler goal. To read a paper by Professor Dalton on Gandhi on Freedom, Rights and Responsibility, click here.
Hence, a responsible citizen is imaginative, thinking, amenable to change, driven by equality and socially conscious. Let us take a moment and reflect – have we been good citizens lately?

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