‘Hum Hindustani’: The Indian Child Citizen in School and the World

Samina Mishra  | 2023


This report presents the findings of a research project on children and citizenship. It examines how children articulate their understanding of citizenship through the key concepts of liberty, equality and fraternity, which are guaranteed to all citizens by the Constitution of India. The project focused on children in Grades 6–9 from three locations: Shaheen Bagh in Delhi; rural Firozpur in Punjab and Govandi in Mumbai. These locations were chosen for their history of providing education outside of school through purposive activities. The site in Govandi, Kitaab Mahal, is a library that organises various learning activities for children. In Shaheen Bagh and the farmers’ protest sites, libraries were set up for children, where volunteers conducted educational sessions. By exploring these different spaces, the project aimed to understand how the Indian child citizen is shaped by a complex interplay of state policy, school education and everyday lived realities. The report analyses the work that emerged from creative engagements with children to argue for the importance of bringing children’s voices and everyday lived experiences into the classroom to challenge normative ideas of citizenship. The project seeks to examine and enable children’s engagement with the arts and used a combination of documentary interviews and arts-based exercises. The project aims to learn from the process of recording the dual moments of being and becoming – children’s self-expressions (to be) that can help them develop an understanding of their lives and worlds (to become). The report presents an analysis of this process and explores whether the collective articulations, when brought together, lead to new understandings and relationalities. The report focuses on the role of the arts in the classroom and the challenges inherent in excavating meaning from children’s voices.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.24943/TESF0605.2023