It’s time to celebrate citizenship again…

Republic Day is a good time to think about citizenship, and the responsibilities it carries. The basic premise of a democracy is that the people imagine it, create it, shape it and sustain it. There are no ‘others’.

But in fact, what we find is that most people go about their lives without any of this. There are many reasons for this, but one important reason is misconception about what is needed.

A lot of people think doing things for the public good is a ‘major’ commitment, and that they cannot achieve much by giving a few hours a week. As a result, they end up not giving even this. The net result is that many perfectly achievable short-term development goals remain needlessly elusive.

The most useful input to public problem solving is not ‘quantum of time’ or ‘money’, but persistence. Small efforts, made regularly without fail, have a much greater chance of creating positive outcomes than we recognise. A small group of people can make a difference (and as Margaret Mead said, that’s how it has always been). The trick is to understand how.

In my experience, one thing works above all. When we make our small efforts alongside someone else who is making their similar efforts, then things add up. The ‘ecosystem’ created by a network of people doing together is the key to change-making. What this means is that we begin to be impactful when we find others who want to make positive contributions, and add our strength to theirs.

Happy Republic Day weekend. Thanks to the calendar, this year it’s even easier to participate in democracy as we mark one more year as a nation smile emoticon

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Ashwin Mahesh
About Ashwin Mahesh 86 Articles

Ashwin Mahesh has been involved in public policy for Bengaluru through his work with the Karnataka government. The views expressed here are his own. He is a member of the Lok Satta party. He is also CEO of Mapunity Information Services, and a director at Oorvani Media, publisher of Citizen Matters and India Together. He is also a visiting faculty with the Centre for Public Policy at IIM Bangalore.