Foundation for Community Consensus
Foundation for Community Consensus (FCC), Institute H21's partnership organization in India was founded when Ankitha Cheerakathil envisioned expanding the D21 - Janecek Method in Asia – a continent home to the world’s most diverse communities, cultures and ethnic groups. Her vision made her the Founder & Executive Director of FCC, which was established in 2018 in New Delhi.
Citizens engaged in local planning using digital technology
Students engaged in school financial planning using digital tools
FCC shares Institute H21’s values of seeking consensus in democratic societies and promoting active participation. The Indian team is currently focusing on engaging Indian citizens – especially the youth – in both urban and rural areas, all with the help of the D21 - Janecek Method.
The D21 - Janecek Method and digital tools have been employed to help rural populations in India. Saptami Dutta (Fellow, SBI Foundation) worked with the Aga Khan Foundation for Rural Development to improve governance in a tribal belt of the Indian state of Gujarat. She conducted awareness meetings with the village health committee, mapping areas where interventions needed to be made and identifying necessary interventions. For this, she conducted a baseline study to analyze ground realities, using the D21 - Janecek Method and the digital participation platform. The data was helpful for presenting her results to district officials to advocate for making her project sustainable. The Aga Khan Foundation specially acknowledged her work in analyzing the community’s issues effectively.
The exercise of School Participatory Budgeting (School PB) was conducted at a model government school named Rajkiya Pratibha Vikas Vidyalaya (RPVV) in New Delhi. The process involved students being tasked with deciding how to best use an amount of INR 200,000 to improve their school. 500 students of the school came up with innovative ideas, deliberated on the same and finally voted to decide on their priorities as a collective, using the D21 - Janecek Method. The idea that garnered the most votes from the students was a futsel ground for the school. The student representatives of the winning ideas were acknowledged by the local MLA and officials from the Delhi Government’s Directorate of Education. Since School PB promotes and innovates positive practices in school governance, the exercise garnered positive attention from the national media (you can read more about it here).
The Smart Cities Mission of the Government of India allowed up-and-coming cities to develop a vision for their future. The Indian state of Chhattisgarh nominated Bilaspur city for the ‘City Challenge’ of the Smart Cities Mission. The team at FCC engaged citizens of Bilaspur over a two month period and conducted consultations for Bilaspur’s Smart City Proposal. After intensive door-to-door surveys of all 66 wards (the smallest body of local government) of Bilaspur, organizing consultation meetings with stakeholders from different sectors (including transport, energy and health) and gathering inputs from students on their vision of a Smart Bilaspur, Bilaspur eventually won funding from the central government to become a Smart City.
The Gram Panchayat (Village Council) Development Planning (GPDP) was launched in India to streamline local planning decisions and to promote citizen participation in rural governance. But authorities normally have scarce or no data regarding its implementation. Nowhere was this situation direr than in the villages of the northern Indian state of Haryana. In collaboration with the District Administration of Haryana state, the FCC team conducted a Social Audit in Hariyawas village. The cornerstone of the Audit was the participation of local citizens for the first time in local planning using the D21 - Janecek Method and digital tools. Post presentation of the results of the Audit to the concerned district, the authorities designed necessary changes for more efficient implementation of government guidelines.
The UNESCO Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development (MGIEP) is UNESCO’s Research Institute that focuses on Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4.7 - towards education for building peaceful and sustainable societies across the world. There are 1.8 billion young people in the world today, the highest population of youth ever to have existed in history. Despite their sheer size and incredible stories of change, youth continue to be sidelined in any and all major initiatives towards development. The FCC team has been working primarily with young people in India to promote values of democratic participation and active citizenship. In recognition of this work, UNESCO-MGIEP made FCC a partner in 2019 of its #KindnessMatters Campaign. To inspire social change through their stories, UNESCO-MGIEP’s #KindnessMatters Campaign will inspire young people to carry out transformative acts of kindness to tackle the SDGs and create a positive culture of kindness. You can read more about the #KindnessMatters Campaign of UNESCO-MGIEP and find the FCC’s logo as an official partner here.
JK Lakshmipat University in Jaipur (Rajasthan state) shares our belief that true professional leaders are the result of a holistic education that includes elements of community leadership, responsible citizenship and active participation in decision-making processes. The question FCC tries to answer for university students is whether it is useful for a professional to know about global governance and public policy practices even if you’re an entry engineer or a manager at an IT company. JK Lakshmipat University invited the FCC team in 2019 for a two-day workshop to teach their MBA students these very principles. Core concepts of participatory democracy, active citizenship and public policy were introduced to great effect. The workshop enriched students with different perspectives and innovations in governance systems and voting systems, inspired by the global use of the D21 - Janecek Method. Our experience made it to the media as well, read more here.
When was the last time an Indian school student really enjoyed and imbibed civic education in the classroom? To reform the curriculum and bring aspects of experiential learning into the system, FCC and Janaagraha worked together to develop new lesson plans for school teachers in alignment with the current Kerala State Board for education of school students. Each lesson plan includes a mix of experiential learning techniques including activities and games. Concepts such as Participatory Budgeting (a process where citizens are allowed to come up with ideas for and vote on a portion of their city/state budget) are introduced through simulations modelled after actual governance practices, such as those practiced by New York City Council. These simulations also introduce the innovative new Janecek Method (D21) for voting with the objective of instilling curiosity in students for exploring new ideas and concepts in order to arrive at better governance. For a copy of the lesson plan, email us at email@example.com.
SDG 16 - from the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development - calls for ensuring “responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels”. To further this, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the UN organized a preparatory meeting in Prague on March 26–27, 2018 on working “Towards sustainable, resilient and inclusive societies through the participation of all”. This was organized in partnership with the Institute of International Relations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic and Institute H21. The conference engaged with civil society, local government, the private sector and academia. Best practices and experiences in fostering participation in various contexts and sectors including education, economic development and good governance were discussed. A best practices panel showcased the role of civil society organizations in mobilizing participation and inclusion with the use of emerging technologies and other instruments. Ankitha Cheerakathil (Founder & Executive Director – FCC) presented findings of the School Participatory Budgeting project that was implemented successfully at Rajkiya Pratibha Vikas Vidyalaya (RPVV) School (Hari Nagar) in West Delhi. The presentation was met with tremendously positive feedback and interest. The meeting resulted in a President’s summary which served as an input to the 2018 session of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF). ECOSOC also produced a manual of best practices and case studies from the meeting.
How do you make the development sector more attractive for youth in India? FCC held a successful conclave on this very question in March 2019, in partnership with the SBI Foundation and the United Nations Global Compact Network India (GCNI). The program included an opening address by Ankitha Cheerakathil (Founder & Executive Director – FCC). This was followed by an insightful panel discussion on incentivizing the development sector for Indian youth with Ms Nidhi Pundhir (Director, HCL Foundation), Mr Anshu Gupta (Founder Director, GOONJ) and Mr Shalabh Mittal (CEO, The School for Social Entrepreneurs). The audience also participated in a digital poll powered by the Decision 21 platform and the D21 - Janecek Method, prioritizing the ways in which the social sector in Indian could attract talented youth.
As people flock to cities in India and Afghanistan, the growing urban population can overwhelm the infrastructure, affecting transportation, the environment, sanitation, education, and disaster response. “TechCamp Mumbai: Building our Urban Future” – organized in collaboration with the US Department of State and TERI - brought together Indian and Afghan civil society and government officials with civil planning and civic participation technology experts. They collaborated over three days on digital skills and strategies to develop sustainable solutions to the urbanization challenges faced by both countries. FCC’s Founder & Executive Director, Ankitha Cheerakathil was invited by the workshop organizers to play the role of a Trainer, which involved presenting her expertise on civic participation and mentoring the groups that worked together to present a solution on the final day to the jury.
Since 2018, in partnership with the United Nations GCNI (Global Compact Network India), NYU’s GovLab & the Czech Embassy in New Delhi, FCC has been organising a summer Fellowship for talented high school students who are enthusiastic about making early beginnings as a contributor to their societies. This is an annual experiential Fellowship for exceptional teenagers between the ages of 13 to 18 years, designed and taught by international public policy and governance experts from FCC and its partner organisations. Along with a carefully curated collection of reading materials and a diverse array of guest lectures from international experts, students also tackle unique governance case studies and policy simulations to build their understanding of concepts. At the end of the Fellowship, the best performing Fellows are awarded either an internship with the United Nations GCNI or an internship with Institute H21. Interested applicants may apply every year for the Fellowship, regular updates for which are provided here.
The Fellowship was a transformational experience. I not only learned more about the different aspects of public policy and governance, but I also had the opportunity to discuss these topics with other passionate students like me. Through the course of the Fellowship, I was also able to enhance my research, reading, critical thinking, and writing skills, which are so crucial to possess in today’s day and age. And finally, Miss Ankitha played an instrumental role in ensuring the success of the Fellowship. With her meticulously planned lectures and her constant guidance at every step, this Fellowship was indeed so enriching for us all. I am truly grateful to have had this opportunity!
The fellowship gave me an opportunity to get to know 35 people from a country I hadn’t known before, from a continent I had never been to before, and most importantly: from a culture I hadn’t experienced until then. If someone woke me up in the middle of the night and asked me to define "Public Policy", he or she would have the answer a second later. Why’s that? Without repeating anything of the course material even once, Ms. Cheerakathil succeeded at explaining all the topics so well that none of the students failed to understand them. Additionally, I truly enjoyed the sessions we had with our guest speakers. My favourite one was with Anirudh Dinesh (Research Fellow, NYU's GovLab) who explained what “Problem Definition" is to us. While one might think, “It can’t be that hard to define a problem", after listening to his session you might think differently. All in all, this fellowship accelerated my development to critical thinking and I experienced amazing and challenging aspects of team work. Last but not least, I feel more open-minded towards other cultures. Even if you aren’t aiming at pursuing a career in the field of governance, I highly recommend this program to anyone who wants to broaden their network as well as learn from highly qualified people.
My experience with the Fellowship was an extremely enriching one. I gained a lot of knowledge about various topics and had the opportunity to deliberate on different issues and policies that affect us. The guest speakers were brilliant and really helped us to break down difficult concepts. I was selected for the internship with the United Nations GCNI team, and that experience added enormously to my professional portfolio. Overall, the experience helped me to grow the extent of my knowledge in these fascinating domains and has exposed me to the sphere of public life.
It is common now to find young students and professionals diversifying their career trajectories and experimenting with paths that are off the beaten track. However, navigating the inter-disciplinary domains of policy and governance particularly in India can be tricky. How does one really contribute to governance and policy-making processes if one hasn’t passed the Indian Civil Service Examinations? There are many ways and one only need participate in the Policy Fellows Forum 2.1 to find out.
This is an online certification workshop series conducted by FCC for the benefits of students and young professionals between the ages of 18 to 32 years. Organised in partnership with the United Nations GCNI (Global Compact Network India), NYU’s GovLab & the Czech Embassy in New Delhi, those who wish to expand their academic skills and network with qualified mentors from the field of policy will find the mix of case studies, simulations and extended discussions highly stimulating. The workshop modules are:
1. Public Policy: An Introduction
2. Problem Definition
3. Collective Intelligence in Governance
4. Voting Theory: The D21 - Janecek Method
5. Interactions: Diplomacy & International Relations
6. Careers & Higher Education in Governance
A diverse array of guest speakers from organisations that include NYU’s GovLab to Niti Aayog provides fresh and contemporary insights into the world of policy and governance. The best performing participants from the batch are awarded either an internship with the United Nations GCNI or an internship with Institute H21. Interested applicants may apply every year for the workshop, regular updates for which are provided here.
Registering for this workshop was the best decision I could have made. From amazing guest speakers to working with the brightest people I know, it offered everything. As a student who loves Economics, I particularly enjoyed the discussion on gender budgeting and national labour skill generation programs, facilitated by a policy professional from the National Skill Development Corporation. Not only did this workshop let me apply my current knowledge, but it also provided me with a lot of experience about how democracies and governments work. It has helped me undertand what I really want to pursue in the future. I look forward to participating in more programs designed by FCC!