“You’re not Citizen Enough!”

An event summary

Rohini Nilekani Philanthropies
3 min readJan 24, 2024

Written by Shruti Sundaresan, Lead, Communications and Community Engagement, Rohini Nilekani Philanthropies

On Dec 12 and 13, 2023, Rohini Nilekani Philanthropies (RNP) conducted a 90-mins interactive session titled, “You’re Not Citizen Enough”, at the AVPN South Asia Summit. The session intended to encourage the audience to think about what it means to be an active citizen while showcasing the work of some of RNP’s grantee partners.

The event opened with an audience poll with questions ranging from “Have you ever given a loan to your domestic worker” to “Do you know what government schemes your domestic worker is eligible for?”.
The audience was provoked into thinking about day-to-day activities, and how these translate into civic engagement and awareness.

“I didn’t quite realize that small day-to-day activities and general awareness is actually an important step to active citizenship! I’m doing my bit, but there’s so much more to do!” — a participant.

The session moved on to a panel discussion, featuring (from left to right) Kuldeep Singh (CEO, Reap Benefit), Meera K (Co-founder, Citizen Matters), Vimal Jat (CEO, Synergy Sansthan), Natasha Joshi (Associate Director, Rohini Nilekani Philanthropies) as speakers, moderated by Sarayu Natarajan (Founder, Aapti Institute).

The discussion explored the complex dynamics that characterize modern citizenship, examining not only individual duties but also the collaborative efforts led by organizations to promote and sustain an informed, participatory society. The session delved into the unique aspects that define active citizenship and its ability to yield results, while also addressing challenges adaptively, particularly during times of crisis. The panelists highlighted the significance of volunteering as a crucial element in public engagement.

“Volunteerism does not arise in a vacuum. Communities have to be nurtured in the normal course, so they can be deployed in crisis.” Natasha Joshi, Associate Director, Rohini Nilekani Philanthropies.

With illustrated examples, the discussion touched upon civic engagement and correlations with SDGs, as well as roadblocks and challenges faced by organizations in the field.

The conversation also highlighted the significant impact that supporters and investors can play in strengthening the field while focussing on the challenges that funders might encounter.

The session concluded with the panelists encouraging attendees to think about civic engagement and its relevance to the overall well-being of our society.

Rohini Nilekani Philanthropies supports organizations invested in catalyzing citizen participation, thus, enabling communities to co-create governance and solve complex problems in innovative ways. Our deep interest in empowering citizens by building a strong samaaj is reflected in our support of organizations in our #ActiveCitizenship portfolio.

Further reading:
Report: Hum Log: Active Citizenship & Civic Engagement in India