This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Youth Ki Awaaz. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Editor’s Pick: The Power of Passion

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

Ashwin Menon:

A sixteen year old student, with a more-than-decent chance of getting into MIT (The Massachussetts Institute of Technology), decides that he would rather try his hand at making rap songs. There’s only one thing left for him to do: get his parents’ permission. Should be a simple decision to make, right? After all, what’s a passion for rap music compared to an opportunity to learn at what is considered the best Institute for technology and science! Well, the catch is that when it comes down to living your life, passion is everything. The student’s parents did let him leave for Hollywood and today we know the “student” better as Will Smith.

Passion – that’s what’s needed here, in India. Here, where most people are in their jobs more for the monetary incentive in the job rather than for the work itself, a few people chasing their passion could make all the difference. From our politicians to our students, it seems that everyone’s just chasing what interests others whereas what we should be pursuing is what it is that interests us. That’s why for a country which has a population of over one billion, you could say our productivity is very “low” — if you don’t like what you are doing right now, you can never be good enough to get satisfactory results. To use a crude (and cheeky) analogy, it’s like being with the wrong girl — your thoughts will always lie elsewhere.

A lot of people make it big not because they had the skills or the degrees, but because they had the passion. Even people not in the arts — Bill Gates, Larry Page and Sergey Brin (founders of Google), Steve Jobs (CEO of Apple), Mark Zuckerberg (Founder of Facebook) — have dropped out of college and gone on to become billionaires. Many actors worked at small jobs in Hollywood awaiting their big break. Brad Pitt used to work as a chaffeur and even dressed up as a chicken. Johnny Depp dreamed of being a rock star and to facilitate his dream, for a while he sold pens. Yes, not really the lucrative job everyone looks for but it achieved its purpose, giving him enough money to stay just that “little bit longer” in Hollywood.

Which is how it should be! People should spend their lives investing in what drives them and doing what they don’t like only to allow them to chase their passion. That’s probably why USA still has the best institutes despite us pumping our “brightest minds” into the IITs. Their universities are filled with students who are passionate about what they’re learning. In an age where mostly every adolescent in India is primed for life in an engineering (or medical) college, it is important to realise that success is where the heart lies.

You must be to comment.
  1. Prashant Garg

    the message is clear..great work!

  2. Shreya

    Nice one. Very passionately written indeed. 🙂


  3. Anshul Tewari

    Hey Ashwin,

    The article is really good. It is one of those few articles that start on a motivational note. You have hit the spot and are very right that no matter what one does, passion must be given importance and must be pursued. There are people who do not pursure their passions so that they can get a lucrative job and earn money, raise a family, but they soon discover that this is not what they wanted to do.

    This article brings out clearly that if a person pursues his/her passion and that too in a decent and rigorous fashion he is bound to touch new heights.

    Good luck and cheers,

    Anshul Tewari
    Founder and Editor in Chief
    Youth Ki Awaaz: Mouthpiece for the Youth

  4. Abhishek

    Difference between USA and India: should I list it via economic indicators such as per capital incomes or by social schemes as, well, their social security net?

    You say that there are people in the US who make it big due to passion and, I’m quoting here, “not because they had the skills or the degrees”, (a laughable claim in itself, but let’s disregard that for a moment), but apparently in India it’s all mechanical. So why is that? What exactly is the difference between us Indian students and those who study in the US (an important distinction since a good % of them are foreign)? Are we ‘mechanized’ from birth or is it something or parents inculcate in us? If it’s the later, why? And thousand other questions that can and should be asked at this juncture.

    The cardinal fault of this piece is not the unsubstantiated claims that it makes, but its utterly uncritical nature. Fluff pieces are fickle, transient things.

  5. Ashwin Menon

    Thank you for your comments 🙂

    I did not mean for this article to be critical; I was just trying to point out how much of a difference passion can make 🙂

    But to answer your questions, I believe that it’s the latter. Why? I guess a lot of people worry about what others think, rather than just thinking about themselves, for themselves.

    And oops! By “not because they had the skills” what I meant was that the skills weren’t with them at birth – will try and put it better next time 🙂

  6. Elessar

    @Ashwin: Well, maybe you didn’t mean it to be critical, but to me, it seems like it is. Which is a good thing, actually. On the whole, I agree with you to a great extent.

    @Abishek: I wouldn’t call this piece “fluff”, “fickle” or “transient”. It does convey a solid message of grievous importance, even if not very explicitly. The problem has been around for long and will be, in the future. In my opinion, the least we can do to change it, is appreciate and encourage articles like these.
    There is a tremendous pressure on students of all ages from not just parents, but the society as a whole. While it’s definitely healthy to encourage students to study and perform well academically, deluding them into believing that there aren’t any other paths to success is highly irrational and immoral. Despite the poor quantity of surveys and statistical data, we do know that the suicide rates of students are alarmingly high in India. Social pressure concerning education has to be a significant factor in every single case. Surely, this is the biggest alarm for those who considered the matter “superficial”. What’s worse than something that convinces its victims that it’s better to give up their own lives?!
    I am not trying to make any unsubstantiated claims on the suicide rates:

    On the other hand, I do understand that India is a developing country. So “earning a living” and “supporting the family” are the biggest concerns for a student from a poor family. Hence, given the statistical assurance, a person is less confident to take any risk by following their true passion (I wouldn’t say, “That’s the way life is”! Something should be done about it, but I’m afraid it’ll take time). But what about a student from a middle-class family? Sheer parental and social pressure!
    I am not saying that all students are currently pursuing what they don’t like. All I’m saying is that it’s a herculean task for an average Indian student to follow his passion and make decisions on his own from the age of 18 while that is what almost every other student does in a developed country does.
    It’s almost as if after 62 years of “independence”, an individual doesn’t gain his “freedom” until he graduates with an engineering or medicine degree.

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

Similar Posts

By Debarati Sen

By India Development Review (IDR)

By Jyotsna Richhariya

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below