Our Power as Youth to Drive the Change: A Case Study

Haryana's CMGGA Programme is a Public-Private Partnership with Ashoka University to empower Youth like us. With hardly any experience about the internal workings of the government and the bureaucracy, we came into the programme with the common objective of improving governance and working with public machinery at different level. We had varying expectations from the role and the form it would eventually take.

Before applying for the CMGGA Programme in Haryana, hardly any of us had experienced the internal workings of the government and the bureaucracy. We came into the programme with the common objective of improving governance and working with public machinery at different levels but had varying expectations from the role and the form it would eventually take. Our varying backgrounds – from engineering, journalism and medicine to law and management have added to the diversity in the cohort and strengthened the perspectives we have managed to bring in. Over the past nine months, our individual journeys have been uniquely defined by the differing realities of our districts, our varying projects and the people we work and interact with every day. While some of our expectations have been met or exceeded, some have not. But the experience without an exception for us all, has been a once in a lifetime opportunity and we are sure to take these lessons wherever we go next.

The Power of Us:

In the last few months, we have worked closely with the Chief Minister and his office on a wide range of projects. We’ve worked with health, labour, transport and power departments; with grievance redressal mechanisms, digital governance and gender empowerment schemes; and all of it in a structured way - with well-defined problem statements and targets - that makes this programme so unique and ensures end-to-end work in the policy cycle.

For instance, with the Transport Department, our work started with a clear objective of studying the experiences of citizens when interacting with the department for various services and identifying ways to optimize these processes across the state. Through interviewing citizens and officials in each district, we were able to recreate an accurate picture of the disparate way in which services were rendered in different districts. Along with the Transport department, district officials and Chief Minister’s Office we worked on creating mechanisms to ensure a standard set of processes and fee structure for the state. We are now working on implementing these Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for all services given by the department across the state.

Our Ideas were Accepted!

Structured work modules aside, we have also have the opportunity to conceive of and implement our own ideas at the ground level in the district with the hope of addressing key social issues. From the operational details to the expected impact, each of us along with the district administration get to pick and drive two such projects, with the idea that the ones proven to work successfully will be scaled up across the state. Being involved with realities of on-ground implementation has pushed us to think beyond textbook solutions.

As we are getting through each day and wanting to see impact in the lives of people we interact with, one can’t help but note the positive stories of resilience and hope we often encounter whilst on the field. As a twenty-one year old brought up in a cosmopolitan city, when Palak, entered the programme, one of the aspects she looked forward to was meeting inspiring people in the district and learning from their stories. One such person was Mrs. Renu, Sarpanch of Lahli village, Rohtak. Having given up a teaching job in Delhi, she settled in Lahli after her marriage. She taught the neighbourhood kids for the first few years, and then worked as a member of the village panchayat. After being elected as the first lady Sarpanch of Lahli, she has taken up some great initiatives - ensuring cleanliness (even if that requires cleaning herself), improving functioning of schools and anganwadis, increasing community participation in her village among other activities. Despite having faced resistance from the villagers initially, she is now respected for her perseverance. She taught Palak how important it is to keep fighting if one believes in the work.

The months spent in Haryana have tested our limits in every way. We never knew we could work as long and as hard as has become a habit now. We can talk to and work with ease with people from backgrounds we could scarcely imagine before, drink tea, chat with and get things moving with people from every level of the society. The real impact we have been able to have in this year is that we’ll never be satisfied settling for less. But above it all, this experience has reinstated our faith in the capability of youth to help percolate good governance to every citizen in this country and we believe everyone must be a part of this. In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, “Be the change you want to see in the world”.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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