Hum Log: Active Citizenship and Civic Engagement in India

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?

Research partner: Arete Advisors

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.

Societal harmony and progress are achieved when there is a delicate balance of samaaj, sarkaar, bazaar. Active citizenship maintains this balance.

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.

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.).

Hum Log: Full report

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  • 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.