Prantakatha, a city-based ngo, promotes active citizenship
SUBHRA PRASANTA DAS
[email protected]
Kolkata, 4 August
Though people are aware of their rights as citizens, the concept of active citizenship is an alien concept to many. Prantakatha, a Kolkata-based NGO, with a focus on youths is vigorously promoting active citizenship amongst the residents of Kolkata.
Bappaditya Mukherjee, founder and director of Prantakatha, visions Prantakatha as a catalyst in this responsibility-based movement which aims to bring about a change in the deep-seated rights based mindset of the citizens. He said that every citizen has a responsibility towards the society, towards the state and towards the country and in order to claim rights for oneself, one should be performing the duties of a citizen.
Prantakatha has several programmes to integrate the concept of active citizenship into the society. With Alliance Asking for Maintenance of Non-enmity (AAMAN), it strives to bring peace and harmony in the society. Under this programme, victims of violence especially women and children get free legal support from well-established lawyers. 
Making Us Smile Through Care Network (MUSCAN), is another initiative to bring back smiles on the faces of the lonely aged people. Volunteers of this programme visit an elderly loner or a couple on a weekly basis, buy groceries for those who are unable to do so, give them company and make them smile. God Caring Programme (GCP), rehabilitates children and adolescents who had violent pasts by providing parental empathy and love. Both monetary and emotional support are provided to these young people to bring them back to the mainstream of life. Several music concerts are hosted to reinforce the pluralist strength of music to bring harmony and peace amongst different communities. Mr Mukherjee believes that music can harmonise the heterogeneous society. 
The NGO runs an one-and-half year programme called "Melting Pot" and BADAL to train its volunteers on the idea of Active Citizenship and to promote leadership. Through these programmes, volunteers identify their own aspirations for change in life and the get an opportunity to work on field which involves rescuing trafficked victims, blood donation camps etc.  Anupam Sircar, co-ordinator of programmes and a volunteer of Prantakatha, said: "The society has seen and experienced rights-based movements so far and hence the concept of Active Citizenship which is a responsibility-based movement is completely new and to a great extent, incomprehensible."