Democracy to me essentially means power in the hands of the people, because we as citizens of our country have the right to elect our leaders and choose who represents us. The beauty of it is that every citizen, regardless of their caste, religion, socioeconomic status, or gender, have an equal opportunity to impact the future of our country. There are several types of democracies, but today we will be focusing on participatory democracy, as this system ensures the community’s needs and aspirations are heard.

A participatory democracy, like the name suggests, involves participation by the citizens in policy-making and it allows more representation of the citizens who are affected by particular decisions. In this system, citizens do not make the decisions but can majorly influence them.

One of the best examples of this seen in recent times has been the massive protests against the ₹1800 crore steel flyover project in Bangalore. This project had to be called off due to the massive opposition from the public. The people of Bangalore came together and collectively decided against the project as it would have negatively impacted the city’s civic infrastructure and environmental conditions.

This type of democracy is visible in local and state forms of government, where citizens have the opportunity to access the decision-makers and give their own perspectives. BBMP, the administrative body responsible for civic amenities and the infrastructure of the Bangalore metropolitan area, holds ward committee meetings on the first Saturday of every month. This gives citizens the chance to meet with representatives of the committees and hear their opinions on topics they are interested in or to discuss upcoming legislation. Citizens are also able to familiarize themselves with the workings of these committees and how they affect our city as a whole.

As a 16-year-old, I still have two more years to go till I can vote but I can still participate in local community projects. For example, during the ongoing covid pandemic, a group of youngsters raised awareness about the proper disposal of used masks so that the refuse collectors were not put in danger. Although we can’t vote yet, we, the youth can still make changes for the betterment of society and improve it day by day. Certain ways that the participation of youth can be encouraged are through debating on community issues and opinion-shaping through following or making their own blogs and podcasts. Engaging in simulations of political processes like MUN or parliamentary debate competitions are also beneficial.