70 years ago today, India became a Republic adopting the Constitution prepared by a Committee of 299 members. The Constituent Assembly represented the diversity of India with members drawn from across the country to ensure regional representation as well as representation of people of different faiths, a testament to the spirit of inclusiveness and secular ideals that the country stood for.
Building on the discussion on the Preamble for the second edition of Urooj, we now grappled with understanding the Pillars of Democracy. Our youth made group presentations on each pillar, contextualizing it with an event or issue in Mumbra. The Sachar Commission Report and its reflection in Mumbra, the encounter of Ishrat Jahan and the role of each pillar in engaging with the encounter, the role of social media in protecting democracy, Basic Services in Mumbra and the role of media and the bureaucracy were some of the discussion in preparation of the third volume of Urooj.
While the discussions on the Constitution continued at Parcham, the country was grappling with the CAA and proclamations of the government on NRC. The Home Minister has time and again reiterated that his government will not back down from the implementation of NRC. A number of non BJP State governments have decided to challenge the CAA with some declaring their intent to not cooperate in the exercise of the NRC. Slogans of Azadi are reverberating from across the country as people hold the national flag and a copy of the Constitution of India. These protests are being led by youth, students from across the country and by women. Shaheen Bagh protests started with a sit in on the 15th of December and the protests continue to draw people inspite of a very harsh winter. It has motivated similar protests across other parts of the country.
In this atmosphere, it was only natural that the discussions in Parcham veered towards the CAA and NRC and the right to protest. We decided to hold a two day workshop which brought together the youth from Mumbra with youth from other parts of Mumbai associated with Centre for Promoting Democracy. Not only did this result in an interaction among people from very different realities, getting them to know the other, we had them go through an exercise writing who is ‘we’ and who is ‘they’ with what about ‘them’ is a problem and what about ‘us’ is worth glorifying. We had the group enact the Constituent Assembly debating on the name of the country that was to come into existence, official language, official religion, principles to govern the country. The session were insightful not only to the facilitators but the participants as well as they were forced to argue for a hindu / Islamic / secular nation and choose between one or many national languages.
The articles in this edition of Urooj reflect the sentiment prevalent in the country. They question the assault on the Constitution, remind us of Savitri Bai and Fatima bi who at personal risk defied the existing order to work towards the education of girls and put forth their opinions on the CAA and NRC through their articles and poetry.
Urooj aims to contribute to placing before the world thoughts of Muslim youth on governance, identity and all that is important to them. We hope to hear your feedback to make it better.
We wish to thank Coro for Literacy for the Samata Fellowship which has made this endeavour possible. We wish to thank Sitaram Shelar for guiding the discussions towards this edition of Urooj.