Metamorphosis of a Mission into a Movement
Unveiling Transformative Journeys of Societal Change
An idea ignites the spark of a story, a story weaves the threads of a conversation, and from these exchanges emerges a tapestry of engagement. Eventually meaningful action and change takes shape. And in these meaningful engagements, a mission slowly brings together people for the purpose they believe in, eventually galvanising the momentum into a movement.
Our conversation with Parameshwaran Iyer, Executive Director – World Bank Group, & Former CEO – NITI Aayog and Ashif Shaikh, Founder and CEO – Jan Sahas, delved into this idea. Of how a mission metamorphosises into a movement, from their experiences and learnings through Swachh Bharat Mission and Rashtriya Garima Abhiyan.
4Ps of a Mission
While leading a mission we need 4Ps – political leadership, public funding, partnerships and people’s participation. This was observed and was at the core of the Swachh Bharat Mission. Its success lies in resolute political leadership. The Prime Minister’s strong dedication to cleanliness sparked a movement across the country. Public funding transcended its success, as the commitment was matched with concrete investments to create sustainable change. And partnerships led to a synergy for sustained progress.
Behavioural Change at the Centre
A movement is for the people and of the people. It is the community who lives the experience.
Turning a mission into a movement requires behaviour shifts within the community. How do we eradicate a stigma or deeply rooted ideology to fight social inequalities? The first step towards changing the mindset should be altering the social norm through behavioural changes. Social norms are caged mindsets, chained with the thrones of rigidity.
Jan Sahas had actively worked to change the mindsets of women, long after the Pratishta Yojna of 90s couldn’t reach the objectives to eradicate manual scavenging. Cleaning excreta was not a question of livelihood but more of a deeply rooted inherent ideology of caste occupation. Jan Sahas involved children in their initiative to persuade their mothers to abandon the practice of manual scavenging. The children introduced the same concepts of untouchability and dignity to their mothers through a new lens – how they are bullied because their mothers are engaged in the occupation. Thus, employing these notions as compelling reasons to encourage them to leave the practice.
Similarly, during the Swachh Bharat Mission, leaders themselves cleaned the public spaces, entered dry pits to demonstrate how it is safe. The idea was to remove the stigma attached to organic manure and having a toilet inside the house. The vision was also championed by movie stars, mass media and through the film – Toilet: Ek Prem Katha etc. Slowly and through sustained efforts towards behavioural shifts, the government’s mission got elevated into a ‘Jan Andolan’ – a people’s movement.
Only Collective Action can actually Solve the Problem
The very basis of various unequal social practices like bondage labour, gender based discrimination, commercial sexual exploitation are premised within the chains of an ideology, a mindset that rationalises and justifies such practices. Laws exist against such practices, but the larger question is why hasn’t it stopped. Law or technology alone cannot solve social problems. Problem(s) is not of the community, but of the nation.
In the entire journey from a mission to a movement, it is the members of the community, the people of society, who are its real drivers. Therefore, what is needed is collective participation not just from the community who suffers the inequality but from the entire nation to build a wave of change and commitment. One organisation owning it single handedly cannot solve the problem alone. Collective action by the communities is necessary. Through these grassroot movements, important development and systemic changes can be achieved.