We asked a child, ‘Who is a leader?’
‘A good human being’ she said.
The power of her words is our belief.
We, the people of Indian School of Democracy, dare to believe.
We believe that one day India will stand tall as the world’s most inclusive democracy.
We will lead with a still mind, a compassionate heart, and fearless hands.
We will reclaim politics as public service, so it truly serves the people.
We will break free from the shackles of left and right, to create a tolerance for multiple truths.
We will stitch the divisions of caste and creed, religion and class, with the threads of humanity.
We will hear the silenced, stand strong with the weak, and serve the unserved with humility.
We will fight polarity with interconnectedness, inequity with justice, violence with love.
No truth will shrink us.
No hurt will daunt us.
No struggle will stop us.
We, the people of Indian School of Democracy, will always dare to believe.
ISD is a non-partisan organization that conducts short term and long term programs for young people who want to work as grassroots political leaders, across the geographical, political and ideological spectrum. The focus is on cultivating i) hard skills for public service ii) spaces for inner transformation iii) community of public leaders.
ISD aims to address the lack of equal and meaningful avenues for participation by the youth in politics. Our students will go on to become politicians in villages and municipal corporations, with the goal of Sarvodaya. (upliftment of all)
Our theory of change: Right people in the right decision-making positions can have a transformative impact in building an inclusive democracy.
Why grassroots politics?
A sarpanch represents 5000+ number of people in her gram panchayat and has discretion for around 80 lakh INR per annum. A ward councillor, even in a small city, typically contributes to decisions for a budget of around 10 Cr INR annually. We want to strengthen the political leadership at grassroots level because they are in charge of the local affairs of the village or municipal council and better understand the needs of the citizens they represent.
Working at the grassroots, also allows us to bring true gender equality in politics because all states have between 33-50% reservation for sarpanch and councillor seats.
Our audacious goal is that by 2047 (100 years of Indian independence), 25% of political leaders will be principled.
Research shows that it takes a critical mass of 3.5% people to behave differently for the entire system to change.
Three important pillars of our work at ISD
Inner transformation | Relevant hard skills | Community
Short term programs
We have conducted Democracy Express (a 10-day political journey across 4 states) and She Represents (a program exclusively for women who want to enter politics). These programs will be conducted every year to encourage more people to get into politics.
ISD's flagship 1-year executive program for aspiring public leaders launches this Nov 2020. The program will have excellent faculty, a mix of academics and practitioners across the political spectrum. This executive model is designed in 3 cycles of residentials (3 weeks each) followed by field time (3 months each) in their own work areas. Residentials will be full time including travel and immersion in different parts of India. When the participants are on the field, they will be taught by some of the best faculty using technology and will engage in on-ground political activities. There will be ongoing mentoring support and alumni support for 5 years after the program.
Our target audience
Our target audience are people who have some past experience in their chosen space of politics. They will be in full-time committed roles with active 4-5 years of demonstrated action on the field relevant to their role and field of action. ISD is committed to building a demographically representative cohort, with equal gender representation and an equitable representation of caste, class, religion and geographic diversity in all our cohorts.
Why are we crowdfunding for Indian School of Democracy?
Our thought goes back to the pre-independence day, when a farmer and an officer - both had an equal stake in getting independence and everyone contributed for the work of getting freedom. We want to build ISD with these ideals. We strongly believe यह समाज का काम है, इसलिए इसके नागरिकों को इसे करना होगा (Its society’s work, so its citizens have to do it)
One of our core principles is to remain non-partisan and inclusive. For this, it is important that we don't build an institution funded by a few people with a certain political leaning or interest. Keeping this view in mind, we want to have thousands of funders, and here we are asking you to support us with any amount you feel called to.
How will we use your contribution?
- Immersion for cohort across three places in the country: 30 lakhs
- Program development (including selection boot camps across India): 30 lakhs
- Mentoring and facilitation: 20 lakhs
- Focused programs for women leaders: 20 lakhs
- The Bastion: Politics Of, By, and For the People: Developing Democracy in 21st Century India
- The Logical Indian: Three reasons why you must join electoral politics
- Efforts for good: Indian School Of Democracy: Duo To Start Institute That Mentors India’s Youth To Be Politicians
- Dainik Bhaskar
- Podcast: Leadership that Indian Democracy needs
- The Logical Indian: Untapped Political Potential Of Women In India
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