Vrundha Bhaskar, National Co-ordinator of Children’s Movement for Civic Awareness, Bangalore, speaking at the Founders’ Day celebrations of GRG Institutions in Coimbatore on Monday. Managing Trustee of the GRG Trust G. Rangaswamy (seated second left) is in the picture. “If we want to protect our democracy, we need to be proactive citizens,” Vrundha Bhaskar, National Co-ordinator of the Children’s Movement for Civic Awareness (CMCA), Bangalore, said here on Monday.
Inaugurating the Founders’ Day celebrations of the GRG Institutions, she said democracy now had become “far from people,” “off the people” and “buy the people.” The public were allowing themselves to suffer at the hands of an inefficient and corrupt Government. It was the citizens’ responsibility to ensure that the Government worked. Responsible citizens should not keep quiet. They should question the actions of the Government. Explaining the concept of active citizenship, Ms.Bhaskar said citizens should secure their rights, exercise them, co-operate with the Government on right policies and oppose wrong ones. They should also have respect for the local environment and volunteer to help fellow citizens.
The CMCA had launched civic clubs in schools in Bangalore, Mysore, Hubli, Dharwad and Mumbai with the aim of making children aware of their civic responsibilities. The clubs reached out to more than 50,000 children and their families. Civic tutors, mostly women volunteers, were engaged talking to the children about their civic duties. Women’s education had a direct connection to active citizenship. Only education could empower women to be aware of their rights and help them contribute towards society. Education would improve the quality of life at home and society at large and reduce the infant mortality rate.
Though women’s literacy had improved in India since Independence, the country, unfortunately, had a blinkered vision when it came to women. Gender discrimination at work was rampant, rural women were being denied registration for the Government’s National Rural Employment Scheme and the school drop out rate among girls was still high. According to a report published by the United Nations Children’s Fund, more than 40 per cent of the child marriages in the world took place in India. “All women should work at least for a year before they enter into the institution of marriage,” Ms. Bhaskar said.
However, education alone was not empowerment. Women should also have access to opportunities, resources and money. Women were capable of sustaining the society, democracy and freedom, Ms.Bhaskar said. ‘Best Alumni’ awards were given to Vanitha Mohan, Executive Director, Pricol, K.M.Ramathal, Chairperson, Tamil Nadu State Commission for Women, Chennai, and N.V.Sreejaya, Lawyer, and Solicitor, Law Society, England and Wales, U.K.