I am living the Constitution in its true sense, and I have come to understand what citizens can do
Updated: Aug 8
Meet Manish Deshpande, a Citizen Champion from Barshi village in Maharashtra. As a dedicated social worker, Manish had an understanding of the constitutional principles of equality, justice, and freedom. However, he struggled with directly applying them in his work. Our training he attended as a Samta Fellow at CORO gave him newfound inspiration, as he mentions, "After your training, I am living the Constitution in its true sense, and I have come to understand what citizens can achieve using our Constitution." In his village, women lacked access to toilets, which he connected with the Right to Live with Dignity. Manish started an initiative by writing an application to the authorities, kickstarting the 'Right to Pee' campaign advocating for free toilets and public restrooms for women. Remarkably, within a few days, the authorities approved the tender for constructing toilets! During a local council meeting, Manish voiced concerns about basic infrastructures, but unfortunately, he didn't receive an update. Even after filing an RTI, he was denied the information. However, undeterred, he organised a 14-day protest, shedding light on the negligence of Nagar Parishads (Municipal Councils) in maintaining meeting records. As a result, it became mandatory for all Nagar Parishads to publish meeting videos and minutes on their websites, with some meetings even being live-streamed on Facebook. In a similar instance, Manish wrote a letter to district officials about a road issue, but once again, it was ignored, and they treated him disrespectfully when he sought a response. Feeling his dignity was under attack, he took matters into his own hands, reaching out to higher authorities and citing Articles 15 and 21 to support his case. Moreover, he provided video evidence to back his claims, ultimately leading to an investigation. As a Coordinator for the National Alliance for People's Movement and as a staunch advocate for constitutional awareness and human rights, Manish exemplifies that true change begins with a deep understanding of constitutional principles and a relentless pursuit of justice and equality for all.