Back to resources

Report | Hum Log: Active Citizenship and Civic Engagement in India

Active Citizenship | Dec 14, 2022

Key Questions

  • What is active citizenship and how do members of society participate in civic issues in big and small ways? 
  • How do different stakeholders interact one another and what are some positive outcomes of such civic expressions? 
  • How can it be catalysed in the Indian context?
  • What can the state, philanthropies, and civil society organisations do to promote active citizenship?

These fundamental questions lie at the heart of every democratic society. Global narratives usually focus on the role of governments and markets, but the role of the citizenry in shaping their own futures also requires spotlighting.

Active Citizenship is a layered and nuanced concept. It is difficult to codify and equally challenging to quantify. It requires frameworks and critical analyses. This report draws out a representative framework to navigate the complex space of active citizenship and what active citizenship means to all stakeholders.

Hum Log: Summary deck

The report is structured into six chapters:

The first chapter explores what it means to be an active citizen and how citizenship builds resilient societies. Chapter 2 maps the landscape of samaaj – people, civil society organisations, and social enterprises that are fostering active citizenship in India. The third chapter reviews the role and potential of sarkaar (government) in driving active citizenship. Chapter 4 looks at bazaar (markets and companies) as active citizens and the evolution of good corporate citizenship. The fifth chapter studies the catalysts for the active citizenship ecosystem in terms of philanthropy, technology, research, and media. Chapter 6 highlights many reflective questions on the state of active citizenship in India.

Hum Log: Full report

Key Takeaways:

  • Societal belonging, harmony and common progress can only be achieved when samaaj, sarkaar, and bazaar strike a delicate balance.
  • Active citizenship can help maintain this balance by building a feedback loop between all three pillars.
  • Active citizenship can increase accountability, improve representation, and build a resilient democracy.

This report is a result of collaboration between the Rohini Nilekani Philanthropies and Areté Advisors LLP (as of January 2022, Arete Advisors has merged with Bain & Co.).

More like this

Active Citizenship

Foreward: The Blue Sweater

India is experiencing a massive transformation. Economically, socially and politically, it is a time of rapid change. The second decade of this new century is critical. It gives us a window of opportunity to complete the unfinished agenda of inclusive growth; of universalizing access to opportunities. Old debates about the role of the state and […]
Apr 19, 2012 |

Active Citizenship  |  Ecosystem Building

The Architecture of Good Markets

This is an edited version of Rohini Nilekani in conversation with Naushad Forbes, business leader and ex-President of the Confederation of Indian Industry, for an episode of India Development Review’s podcast, On the Contrary. Along with Arun Maira, the host of the show, they discuss what markets must include, whom they should serve, and the […]
Apr 14, 2021 |

Ecosystem Building  |  Active Citizenship

Rohini's address at "Building India's Digital Highways: The Potential of Open Digital Ecosystems"

This is an edited version of Rohini Nilekani’s talk on Open Digital Ecosystems. Globally, as well as in India, we are seeing more people realising that we need to create enabling infrastructure if we really want to address some of society’s most critical and complex problems. We need to reduce the friction to collaborate between […]
Aug 27, 2020 |

Active Citizenship  |  Ecosystem Building  |  Climate & Biodiversity

Covid-19: Securing the Present and the Future

This is the most serious crisis since World War II. Politicians must step up; voters must allow them to. Politicians are elected because they campaign in poetry, but voters don’t always account for the fact that elected representatives must govern in prose. That chasm between the promise and the delivery becomes more dangerous at times […]
Mar 30, 2020 | Article