‘Citizens Today’ documentary film

Posted on September 12, 2012

‘Citizens Today’ is a film made by The Concerned for Working Children (CWC) in 2002 to provide an overview to our work in children’s citizenship. The film focuses on the right of the children to participate in the decisions regarding their lives as well as their participation in local governance.

In 1989 the United Nations Convention of the Right of the Child (UNCRC) recognised the child as the holder of their rights i.e.: civil and political rights to form organisations and participate in the decision concerning their lives. The UNCRC deals with 3 main groups of rights: protection, provision of services and participation.

“On the process of translation of the CRC, we adults concentrated only in the first 2 area of UNCRC. If the third is also looked in, it will change the quality and nature of the first two”, says Nandana Reddy in the film.

Citizen’s Today talks about how children living in a very marginalised, hierarchical society have organised themselves. They are participating in the decision taken concerning their lives, identify issues and also finding solutions through discussion with their local government.

It also talks about a girl named Vanaja, member of Bhima Sangha who was involved in a movement to get back their home which was demolished by the local authority and her successes. In the film she says, “Earlier we were not aware of how inappropriate the decisions taken by adults were to us. We realised it only after we began to participate, and it is only through our participation that we realised how important participation is”.

“Just as adults if children are provided with information and opportunities, children can also identify issues and participate in finding the solutions to it”, says Damodar Acharya in the film.

“When we take up issues we take all the required information and take them to local governments and they are willing to listen to us because they trust our judgement”, says a member of Makkala Panchayat. “Adults always talk about democracy. But normally we children at no point experience democracy”, shares Nagaraj Kolkere, founder president of Bhima Sangha.

The film emphasises that once children are ready to participate, they need arenas to participate in and it is the responsibility of adults to create structures or redesign existing structures for ensuring a political space which is accessible to children.

“When children raise issues about their regions they do so because they are deeply affected by it. The elected representatives or officials have to pay a lot of attention to it”, said by Vinay Kumar Sorake, former Member of Parliament. He also said that when he came to attend a Makkala Grama Sabha, he was astonished by the way the children raised issues. He commented that he has attended many adult Grama Sabhas and nowhere did he find such qualitative depth of information and solutions. He suggested that such Grama Sabhas should become the role model for the entire country.