Back in September, Global Citizen India launched, taking our unique mix of policy, people and pop to the world’s largest democracy.
In just two months, half a million young Indians have become Global Citizens, and they’ve taken 2 million actions in support of achieving the Global Goals and ending extreme poverty by 2030.
It might surprise you to know that it’s not because India has the largest number of people living in extreme poverty in the world, even though it does.
And it’s not because India is home to the largest number of people in the world without access to sanitation, and the largest number of people who practice open defecation, even though it is.
It’s because India is a country teeming with young people who already think of themselves as Global Citizens.
It’s because India is a rising power that’s right now transitioning from being a recipient of foreign aid to a giver.
And, it’s because Global Citizens in India told us that there was a need for efforts like ours, and that they were willing to get in and do it.
Read More: Global Citizen Festival Is Here
They told us that India is a country with a vibrant democracy and media, but a place where bitter experience has led citizens to sometimes doubt that politicians and business leaders will follow through on their promises without ongoing pressure from citizens. They told us that young people in places like Mumbai were often volunteering and taking action locally, but in addition, they wanted to be a part of something that could push leaders across the whole country. And, they told us that many politicians and business leaders were willing and ready to listen and to do more, if they were given space and permission by their citizens.
Behind the scenes for almost a year, our team have been building relationships and introducing the idea of citizen action for new commitments and for accountability.
This weekend, as we stage our first Global Citizen Festival India, we’ll see dozens of new commitments, calls to action and accountability updates. Working closely with groups across India and the region, our team have secured commitments from government, business, faith and entertainment leaders.
And importantly, none of the commitments are from traditional donor countries. Gone are the days when the West benevolently hands out checks to grateful recipients. In its place has emerged a model driven by global partnerships, domestic resources, and a country and region who are driving their own development.
For those of us living places like America, Britain and Australia, it’s a change we need to understand and get used to. Too often still, the way we give aid to charities and through governments assumes that we know best, when clearly, that’s not true.
It’s only when we listen, partner, and work together that we can solve the world’s greatest challenges, as I hope you’ll get to see from India this week.