Formal and informal educational systems often reduce the nature of political participation to its electoral system, and fail to address other ways of political engagement in constitutional democracies. The School For Democracy (SFD) or Loktrantrashala was intended to offer space for eclectic learning for all those who recognised a need to understand their roles in participatory democracy.
Located in village Badi ka Badia, Bhilwara Disrict, Rajasthan, 60 kilometres from Beawar, the SFD offers different courses of varied durations to suit participant needs. A non-resident faculty of volunteering professionals, offer their time to initiate learning and reflection on a number of contemporary and historically relevant issues. Courses held so far have centred around the constitution and its relevance for social, economic and political rights, governance, people’s participation in decision-making, transparency, accountability, social movements, agrarian and land issues, and cultural democracy, amongst others.
Apart from events both on and off campus, the SFD hosts two fellowships – the Democracy Fellowship, and the Constitutional Values fellowship, which support young people from rural backgrounds in understanding ethical participation in a democracy.
The SFD grew from the experience of people’s political mobilisation in India, and rural Rajasthan in particular in the last three decades. It derived its motivation from movements which empowered ordinary people to use democratic spaces to establish their rights – RTI , MGNREGA and many others through rights-based legislations passed by Parliament.
In contemporary India, corruption, arbitrary power, impunity and injustice, have helped authoritarian nationalism, the domination of institutions aided by promoting discrimination through religion, caste, gender and financial controls. The SFD addresses the exclusion of large sections of the population from informed democratic participation as one of its principle concerns.