Children Parliaments with John Buck, Swarnalakshmi Ravi and Neelakshi Gautam

February 9, 2023


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John Buck was the first native English speaker to bring the governance system called sociocracy from Dutch to the English- speaking world and a certified sociocracy consultant. Co-author of four books, including Governance From Below: Can Children Lead the Way? available in the draft at no cost from Supports the Provisional World Children’s Parliament as an adult ally.

Swarnalakshmi Ravi, a former National Child Prime Minister of India, addressed the UN four times at ages 13, 14, 16 & 17. The current adult ally for the Provisional World Children’s Parliament includes children from five continents. Motivational speaker. Last year received a Master’s Degree in international relations and global governance from Aston University, England at age 21.

Neelakshi Gautam National Children Parliament of India Minister for the Sustainable Development Goals

Living Room Conversations: Children Parliaments with John Buck, Swarnalakshmi Ravi and Neelakshi Gautam

Welcome everyone to today’s living room conversation it is actually episode 43 and with this our last episode for this year before we go in our Christmas break I’m excited to be your host today I’m Caroline and with me I have three wonderful guests that I will introduce in a moment but first things first why are we having these conversations we believe in the power of conversation in exploring stories talking to people really getting down into the nitty-gritty of things and understand them further and today is a very very special day and because we talk about something that is clear to my heart and that our children parliaments and what this is what this is all about and what this has to do with self-management to feel and true transformative leadership and is something that I hope we can explore together over the course of the next hour a huge welcome also to everyone joining us live um as always feel free to put your questions into the chat and then you can directly talk to our guests in the studio without further Ado let’s bring on our very first guest which is swamin Lakshmi joining us from India hello smarma fantastic hello with us today hi um swama Lakshmi got involved in children parliaments at the age of 10. she has been serving um in multiple roles um over the years and eventually he became the child prime minister of India and has been talking multiple times at un and just finished your Bachelor and your master studies apologies um and I’m super super excited having you with us today welcome thank you very much for welcoming me and for having me here and I’m honored to be participating in the podcast thank you great next up we have uh nilakshi um she is joining us from India as well she is based in New Delhi and she joined the children parliaments in October um 2019. she has also served in multiple roles over the last years and she’s currently 16 years old and has a lot of plans for the future and um yeah welcome on board for our session today thank you uh Carolyn for this great opportunity and of course I’m very excited for this podcast and thank you very much again perfect and last but not least um we have John with us uh John is joining us from the US he is the founder and senior consultant um or one of the the founders of governance alive and and he was the first one translating the Dutch sultra kussy model into English and made it available uh worldwide and this is also a little bit how all of this started we’ll explore that further in a moment he is currently also the chairperson of the NGO governance from below and is currently working on a book that we will explore further as well later welcome John thanks glad to be here looking forward to the conversation with three people but um it is in the spirit of Christmas the more the merrier fantastic thank you all um for joining us today and maybe let’s start with the first question and that is what is a children’s Parliament actually what is this all about and maybe it’s mama like me you can just explain that a little bit to our audience sure um children’s parliament are forums for children to participate where children from 30 families come together they gather on a common platform they is discuss the issues that they see around them try to resolve them with the support of grown-ups and Civic authorities and they also help their peers so it is a forum to encourage children’s participation and to carry the voices of children from Grassroots to Global level through federations thank you that was a that was a great um explanation and a summary of what it is anything to add from you anilakshi or John yeah especially for um as we read different laws and principles in our books but practically we can apply it in our life by use by this platform children Parliament and it’s a very great platform for children like me that’s that’s what I said thank you um so basically um it’s about bringing children together from various ages starting uh with 10 I think and all the way up to the teenage age and they’re getting together and really working on tangible challenges tangible things um that they see in their day-to-day work um why did you join a children’s parliament in the first place um so we have with us Swami and nilakshmi from India and what was your intention getting there um if I talk about myself then I joined the children parliament in 2019 uh October of I basically joined for uh make our society more better as we as we can see many different uh problems the tortures by them to the woman or to girls any kind of that that’s why I joined for it I can do something for that so that I can also learn for my future and also I want to see a better world for of course for our youth and for everyone yeah so really to impact the society thank you um what were your um reasonings um stroma to get involved uh the main reason is that I joined children’s Parliament when I was 10 years old during grade six and I joined because people told me that I can serve for the society until like age 10 I was thinking that I’m a child I’m dependent on somebody else but when there was an opportunity for me to serve others for me to be supportive for other people and for also um me to to explore more and to speak up and to have my voice heard um that’s why I thought that it would be great to join children’s problem and movement and I did join so great make your make your voice hurt and real but it’s also uh enables them to be in the lead in terms of trying to organize our society which is now very top-down organized making the lead in organizing from the bottom up which is the way we used to do things before all of the modern technology and the great big cities happened thank you you said um adults are listened to them um maybe you can explore this a little bit further uh I I love the the stories out of India and some of which sworn a lot should be and theyiluchi had been involved with but maybe maybe that one of my favorite example when I was at the um National level we had our government promising us that they would allocate from the country’s GDP six percent for children’s education and three percent was for our health but that promise was not fulfilled so we represented along with my peers I had the opportunity of representing at the UN Thrice which made the government to increase the amount of percentage that they were allocating for Children’s Health from the country’s GDP so that level of change that we were able to make meeting them in person and handing them over their relief measures and materials yeah yeah so really being at the Forefront um doing a huge crisis and really you know acting super quickly in order to help um thank you Lakshmi and how about you anilakshi um what are stories um from your team and your daily or um around I don’t have like a story like for now uh told us but of course um in my children Parliament I experience many things because I learned the teamwork specially with how and in the pandemic especially in code 19 know hey I need some attention we’re just built in to listen to them it’s also true that children can see things that adults can’t see and if they and it may be difficult for them to make themselves heard but if they’re together in an organized way then guess what they get heard thank you this woman actually what are you a thoughts on this I mean you met politicians from across the world I spoke four times at un why do you think people uh listen to you and your peers um it’s because that our politeness and give us an ID card and the ministry was stuck there that’s just an example of how children can just interact with the adults and in another example there is a politician who who was uh talking with all the adults and he was feeling a bit grumpy about it because all the adults were contradicting what he was saying uh when I entered into the room I felt that okay he’s he he’s I was just observing the entire situation I heard him um that his emotions are raising he’s having an anger because he’s been um organization of children parliaments already but maybe you can just summarize the the key the key points of how a children Parliament is organized also from a regional to um state level sure uh first children as I told it uh at the neighborhood level children from uh different houses 30 different houses let’s say for example in a neighborhood there are 30 houses and children from 30 houses come together and they sit together and discuss issues in similar way 30 of such neighborhoods would send representatives to the upper level which supported by an Erasmus Grant to try to replicate this careless system in Europe the problem with it is is that the regular governments get kind of freaky when you start saying let’s go to the third or fourth level it’s like well who’s in charge here there is one town in in Holland where they’ve managed to bridge that and the the um the citizens and the government are working well hand in hand but it’s a it’s a tricky one and it’s easier for children to Federate up because they don’t threaten the the political great experience for me and uh for for our children uh it’s a it’s good to lead to lead a group or to lead somebody to like that so uh from elections from uh everyone’s from everyone’s we decided to uh a post from everyone’s suggestions uh like that they decided or post thank you so basically the meetings are being organized by the children themselves um and there is a coordinator right that’s what you were saying um but this person um is is rather there right German parliaments are fully run by the and nilakshi is also a minister and John’s also a minister nobody else has like you know they are the secretary nobody else is the member but we all are ministers and we all serve our responsibilities rather than just having it as opposed as a as a a high level position or as an authority we enjoy that responsibility in case if the Prime Minister doesn’t show up for the meeting the Finance Minister would be ready to take the responsibility of the Prime Minister or they’d be ready to court it and also same with the children’s parliaments once the adult gets the children going they can run the meeting themselves the adult Ally uh make sure that there is the that the children if they want to take an action that involves the the society uh have the support they need to do that it’s kind of like um the the often children require escorts to to deal with some adult institution so they they’re there to assist that and then there’s the the concept of mutual leadership uh children can see things adults don’t um where do you see um the bridge or you know uh similar similar thoughts between children parliaments and the teal concept right um especially because you mentioned about evolutionary something that comes the word that that comes to my mind is uh an organization being Dynamic could be evolutionary and if an organization that needs to be dynamic it needs to uh have a space a form where people can just make their decisions and help the organization function dynamically so for example I think I gave this example even in self-management as well N yesterday there was a consultation between ecosac and um the ngos and there were you know the room was full and people were making different statements about what you know how the relationship with ecosoc could be improved there were several organizations I would say well not several maybe four or five that were sponsoring children or concerned with children’s activities we were the only one who had a child speaking and he he was 16 and he spoke so well that right after he finished speaking several people came over and handed him just said that that the children’s children have things to say children can see things that adults can’t we even demonstrate that in the book and we need to be having a system of mutual leadership which if you look in like management literature about styles of leadership you probably won’t find much of anything about Mutual leadership which is the process of of handing leadership back and forth between people between people with different abilities but they all have something to say I’m co-writing it with a man named of long-term and short-term goals I’m I’m going to volunteer for this quickly because I’m going to have I’m going to poke Pardon Me I’m having trouble clearing my voice today uh I’m gonna poke Alex a little bit in the ribs um the the uh I do work in um uh combining uh agility with uh other methodologies like well basically making things teal but uh the organizational open space uh Beyond budgeting and so forth and the the goal of these is to make you agile and if you for example have a company that identify more and more for example as John said uh since uh John accompanied with one of our provisional oral children’s parliamentarians to the United Nations for him to represent the the provisional world through this problem at the United Nations I think they also met um many people and identified some ngos in countries like Nepal and so we’re in the process of uh trying to identify those countries and any ngos that are really in support of the vulnerable people especially when they’re working with the children and so trying to um you know you’re in contact with um with the reference representatives there um you build things on the run you know like currently work on um maybe a little starter kit of how to get started um I mean there are so many things I really think we could talk for hours today and we really make sure that we share um the link to the website where people can explore stories can get in contact with you guys um before we go one last question um how can people get started so let’s say somebody is watching this right now and with the sustainability goals as a foundation so really making sure that General rights are being established worldwide and I know that you guys will continue to do that and maybe who knows some who are