Suppose if in a classroom teacher never ask students what you have understood in a given topic/subject. Or if in a school nobody asked any questions or raised their hands to say they have doubts. What would happen if students do not ask questions even if they have not understood any concept? The purpose of the school will not be fully fulfilled.
Well, that is what happens in a democracy too, people engagement is a vital aspect of a good and healthy democracy. In a democracy, active participation, and collaboration with the government is important. There can be multiple ways of engagement with the government, direct conversations, social media campaigns, writing your concerns to the concerned authorities, any grievance redressal mechanism etc. Being an ACTiZEN means actively participating in the democratic processes and taking responsibility for the betterment of your communities and society.
Through this activity today, students will understand that in a democracy, multiple stakeholders are involved in a decision made by the government. It is very difficult that everyone will agree on one thing but it is important that everyone gets a chance to put forward their viewpoints and concerns. This activity will help to reinforce understanding that it is important for citizens to be alert about their role and stake and participating actively for success of democracy.
- Students will be able to comprehend the role of people’s engagement and participation in the success of any democracy.
- Students will be able to describe the role of people’s engagement and participation in making democracy successful.
Skills - Critical thinking, Problem-solving, Active participation
Values - Empathy, Responsibility
|S. No.||Session Details||Estimated Time Required|
|1||Step 1: Introduction
Step 2: Group Activity
|2||Step 3: Presentation
Step 4: Debrief
Pen, sheets, notebook
Session 1: For a 45 min session Step 1-2
Step 1 - Introduction
Estimated time – 10-15 mins.
Teacher will begin the class by telling students that today, we will listen to case. Basis that case we will in groups play a role one stakeholder and try to work out the viewpoints of that stakeholder.
Teacher will narrate the Case.
One of the key initiatives that Ministry of Road Transport and Highways focuses on is increase connectivity across India by expanding the road network. The Constitution of India has laws that Central government power to construct/build a new national highway in any State and to issue directions to the Government of any State for carrying out the plan of construction given.
Nirmapur is a town located on the borders of its state. The government of the State has been directed by the Central Government to build a state highway that connects Nirmapur with the nearby State. This will then lead to further connectivity with National Highway. The Central and State government has directed the local government authorities to begin the process for construction.
The government officials following due procedures identified a contractor agency. The Contractor agency has done the survey, consultation with few experts, and necessary groundwork, etc. to draw a plan. The highlights of this plan are as follows:
- It will be a state of art infrastructure, dream project for Nirmapur tourism and become a great attraction place.
- Provide direct connectivity to neighboring state and in future enable connectivity to national Highway.
- Provide economic growth & development for the region.
- People whose land will get acquired will get compensation as per the Law. (Land Acquisition Act 2015)
- The chosen route covers forest areas, farmland as well as residential areas. This will lead to cutting down of trees, displacement of fields, people, loss of greenery, loss of biodiversity of plants and animals in the area, etc.
- Traffic route diversions to be planned for the duration of construction.
The local government authorities released these key highlights, plan details showing the blueprint of highway construction and have invited suggestions from the different stakeholders. While some stakeholders view it as a developmental project that will ease the life of many, on the other hand, some of them feel that this Highway will disrupt their lives and livelihoods.
Step 2 – Group Activity
Estimated time – 30 mins.
1. Teacher will then inform students that we will as a class discuss this issue to hear the interests of different stakeholders and try to understand different viewpoints.
2. Teacher will divide the class into 6 groups representing different stakeholders as follows:
- a. Environmental Based NGO/ Environmentalist
- b. Contractor Company
- c. Farmers
- d. Labourers
- e. Media People (Print/TV – all)
- f. Larger Public (General public/citizens apart from above mentioned groups)
Note: Teacher can divide the groups at random or ask make chits for groups to choose.
3. Each group will have to think as stakeholder group they represent. They will:
a. Discuss the Pros and cons of highway construction in their role of the stakeholders.
b. Each group basis their discussion points will decide their stand whether the Highway should be made, or they want to raise question to government about it (like Seek alterations for the plan, etc) or their stand as the group is Neutral.
i. To decide the stand as group, each member will share their opinion – For/Neutral or Against and given reason.
ii. One member from the group can maintain the count.
iii. Once all the members have shared viewpoint and reason, if anyone wants to change their vote they can do so.
iv. Group will do the tally of vote and majority will be decided as group stand. Group has to maintain this break up of vote for presentation in next session.
v. The group will discuss, and the members will write down post discussion, how many are “For”, how many are “Neutral” and how many are “Against” the building of Highway.
4. Teacher can share the reference points with each group as per their stakeholder given in Annexure 1 for reference.
5. Tell the students they will have 20-25 minutes to finish this discussion and note down the points (Pros & Cons) and final stand of group. They will present this in next session.
Note: Teacher to ensure that in group everyone gets a chance to share & discuss the reason of the viewpoint.
NOTE: Teacher will need to pre-inform when the next class is going to be conducted so that the students can come prepared for the discussion.
Session 2: For a 45 min session Step 3-4
Recap: (5 mins)
Teacher can begin the class with quick recap with help of question - What is your one key learning through the discussion in groups last time?
Step 3 - Presentation
Estimated Time: 30 mins
- Divide students into the same groups as the previous session.
- Each group will get a maximum of 4-5 mins to present their interest in front of everybody. The objective of presentation is the interest of their group is heard and considered in the decision-making process.
- Teacher will emphasize that here we will focus on how and what viewpoints each stakeholder has about building of the Highway. How is the project affecting each interest group? The stand can be For/neutral or Against (raise questions to government, seek alterations, etc)
- Teacher will need to create on Board tally of vote.
NOTE FOR TEACHER: Guidelines for the discussion:
- There should be no blaming amongst each other.
- Teacher can decide a discipline signal (like raising of hand, clap) to be used if there is lot of noise, disagreements, etc.
- Each group should be able to present its views. No one should interrupt when one group is presenting.
- Emphasize about the opportunity to present their voice is important, and their participation is important.
Step 4 - Debrief
Estimated Time: 10 mins
Teacher can tally the votes and show the majority. Teacher to also discuss about how the group reached consensus for the stand to take and also how despite the varying views for stand - majority was considered.
- What were some things you kept in mind while thinking of your interest/viewpoint in the project?
- Do you think it is important to find balance among different participants of democracy? Why?
- How can citizens engage with government given they have an equal stake in a democracy?
- Why is people engagement and participation important for success of any democracy?
Reflection Sheets, Activity Report & Feedback Form
Teachers kindly fill in the feedback form, remind office bearers to fill activity report and remind students also to fill up the reflection sheets.
Annexure 1 – Cue Cards
Group 1: Environmental based NGO/Environmentalist
- There will be deforestation and land degradation. This project will also lead to the loss of the green belt of the region as well as air, land pollution.
- There would be extensive displacement of people living in the area.
- Biodiversity of plants, birds and animals & climatic conditions will be impacted as the greenery is reduced.
- Highway will increase connectivity and ease to life of people so alternative solutions should be identified. For example: Use of such portions of Land can be done which has low rate of productivity, becoming barren, etc.
- All site works should be carried out in accordance with best environmental working practices and as per the environmental Laws of the country. Also, Prior environmental clearance from applicable authority to be taken. (Central level applicable authority is Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) & State/Union territory Environment impact Assessment Authority SEIAA) at state level.)
- Instead of Cutting the trees, these trees can be displaced to other locations and processes to be identify with experts to ensure biodiversity is preserved.
Group 2: Contractor Company
- This will lead to infrastructure development and sees it contributing to the public & economic welfare of the region.
- The Contractor Company has done contract with Public Works Department will get recognition for participating in government tender.
- The construction will provide employment opportunities in field of engineering and road works.
- If all costs during construction are managed well then there will be a good profit margin for the company.
- Ethical considerations of the contractor company, given the fixed budget the quality of materials, resource management, skills of labour, etc will need to be taken care of.
- Some of the risks that contractor agency anticipates are unknown site conditions, unexpected increases in material costs, delays in hitting contract milestones, interruptions of workflow, etc.
Group 3: Farmers
- Farmers may have to shift their houses because of their land being utilised in the Highway project.
- The one-time monetary compensation will be according to the Law, they will have to give up agricultural land of their family.
- The construction and deforestation will lead to declining land fertility around the areas.
- The displacement can have adverse effect on local produce and impact supply.
- The money compensation can help them set up another business but there is uncertainty when the entire amount will be received. Also, there are a lot of processes to be followed for acquiring it.
- One time settlement can help them to provide for their immediate needs.
- They will have opportunity to shift their houses which they were unable to do so because of their land.
- They can buy another land nearby and sell the local produce to both the states because of Highway connectivity.
Group 4: Labourers
- They will get employment on a daily basis.
- Migratory labourers will also get a place to live and set up their tents etc for the duration of the project.
- Labourers also get to participate in a large-scale government project. This will open other opportunities for them.
- This project can also lead to other connected infrastructure projects in the area, helping them get more work in future.
- Contractor will call Migratory labourers to finish the project on time and then they will settle in the area. So, competition may increase in near future if they settle in the area.
- They are also concerned about the quality of materials that will be used given the budget constraints. It should not affect their health.
Group 5: Media People
- It is a development project for the region as they are connecting two towns/cities which will provide ease of travel.
- It can give them content coverage and provides information to individuals to make their own decisions to give government feedback.
- News coverage of other such development projects have shown that it is critical to ensuring quality of the Highway, concerns that expert’s group will have like pollution, adverse environment impact, labour unions, etc. will need to be researched, collected, and showcased to public & government.
- While development has picked up pace in the country, the motorists’ experience has not been particularly good over the quality and condition of roads. Media can have programs to show viewpoints of stakeholders, conduct expert talks, run programs to showcase what people can do, stories about what Laws we have for Land Acquisition, highway construction, etc.
- It can present platform to government officials to share the larger benefits for the region, state and country at large.
- Media can act as regulator to ensure that all guidelines and Laws are followed by the authorities, bring forward the voices of all stakeholders, ensure transparency and can help ensure that political decisions are adapted to the needs of the people affected by them.
Group 6: Larger Public (People living in the vicinity)
- The Highway will make transportation amongst cities easy and will also ease out doing business.
- Some think that it might cause problems due to increased traffic due to construction.
- The construction activities will also cause an increase in pollution of air and sound.
- Many families might be required to displace their house or business due to the project.
- It makes them feel proud that they have nice infrastructure in their town.
- With good connectivity, there may be more people passing by the town thus it will benefit the local businesses around the Highway.
This video is good example of citizen’s engagement–https://youtu.be/u6EB6lNiJ3M (This is a video in Marathi with English subtitles.)