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Top 10 Inspirational Leaders From India

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By Achilles Rasquinha:

Youth is the meticulous term for rage, fury and enlightenment. Student leaders and young freedom fighters have staked their lives for revolutionizing the nation for a better future. Be it  extremists, fanatics or ‘tooth-for-tooth’ strategists, juvenile leaders of the young age have provided noteworthy changes in the fields of empowerment, education or correcting the very democratic flaw, abiding to their own political thesis. Here is a list of top 10 inspirational young leaders who have made some significant contribution in India:

Charu Majumdar

1. Charu Majumdar:  Also known as ‘The Father of Naxalism’, Comrade Charu Majumdar’s life is a story of “riches to rags”, an intentional step towards a pro-communist approach. He, along with his group, are together a reason why the 1968 Naxalbari uprising of militant peasants took place, a reason why red radicals uproar even today, a reason why the conflict continues in every red corridor of the nation. Even as a teenager, Charu Majumdar rebelled against social inequalities. His life reflects his works of uniting laborers, tea gardeners and rickshaw-pullers which never dampened his zealous revolutionary spirits in spite of the social conditions that clutched him. His writings have turned into ideologies which channelize red revolutions today. Charu Majumdar was, is and will continue to remain a legend in the eyes of every ultra-Leftist.

Savitri Phule

2. Savitribai Phule: Her humble character continues to be printed in every text-book of Maharashtra, her revolutionary reforms are remembered in every nook and corner of the country, Savitribai Phule was a woman who strived against the odds. She had been mocked, thrown eggs at, tomatoes and even stones by orthodox men but her zeal to continue teaching girls never faded. She protested against ‘sati’, sheltered orphaned children, embraced the untouchables, raised the bar for women’s self-esteem and confidence, and campaigned against many social ill-practices; a true redeemer. After the demise of her husband Jotirao, it was Savitribai who took over responsibility of the Satya Shodhak Samaj, a group which aimed to liberate social ideologies with regard to untouchables and which was founded by Jotirao himself. She broke all odds by being the first woman in Indian history to light up her husband’s pyre. Savitribai Phule continues to remain an inspiration to us all.

Bhagat Singh

3. Shaheed Bhagat Singh: Anarchist, Marxist, martyr, mystic atheist and the famous anti-Gandhian philosopher, Bhagat Singh continues to be one of the most influential revolutionaries of the Indian independence movement. We all are well aware of his sacrificial legacy, but Bhagat Singh had something more to offer. He was a youth icon, a representation of ferocity, zeal and valor. He founded the Naujawan Bharat Sabha, a youth organization in 1926 during his course at the National College in Lahore. Violence was Bhagat Singh’s way, opposing the very core of the Gandhian doctrine. In Pt. Nehru’s words, “He was a clean fighter who faced his enemy in the open field, he was like a spark that became a flame in a short time and spread from one end of the country to the other dispelling the prevailing darkness everywhere.

Chandrashekar Azad

4. Shaheed Chandrashekar Azad (1906-1931): Nurtured by earth, Chandrashekar Tiwari joined the Non-Cooperation Movement led by M.K. Gandhi and was arrested and sentenced to fifteen days imprisonment with harsh punishment when he was barely 15. Socialist by choice, Chandrashekar pledged an oath to achieve independence by all means. Well known as an icon while he proudly pinches his mustache,  there is a reason why he was rightly named from Tiwari to ‘Azad’. Chandrashekar once claimed that he named himself ‘Azad’ as he would never be taken alive by the police. And so he did. At the end of his time, faced with armed police, Chandrashekar committed suicide at an age of 24 by shooting himself. His noteworthy contribution to the struggle remains committed to our memories.

Sheetal Sathe

5. Sheetal Sathe: Sheetal Sathe’s image represents the outcry to every Dalit’s tale of oppression.  She joined the Kabir Kala Mandal (KKM) in 2005, a troupe of spirited musicians who convey a social message via their poetries, melodious songs and various other public performances, inspired by Kabir. Her songs convey a deep symphonic message about feminism, casteism, equality and the unbridled capitalism. She is one of the few hearts for a cause. Her songs explore the root of every issue she addresses along with the strength of poetic devices as her mellow voice reaches out to every listener. Her attempt to bring to notice about the atrocities faced by Dalits in Maharasthra even today and on her arrest of being falsely tagged as a Maoist has sparked debates all over the nation, questioning why artists and not militants like Sheetal have been curbed of freedom of expressions via their mediums. Sheetal Sathe is proudly saluted with “Jai Bhim!”

Chandrashekar Prasad

6. Chandrashekar Prasad: Che, Chandu, Chandrashekar. His name continues to be chanted and praised in every young red tongue of the nation. Chadrashekar was a significant anti-imperialist, communist and a full-time activist fired with an outraging fury against oppression. A student at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, Chandrashekar had played a key-role in building up the All India Student Association (ASIA) there. He had embarked himself into the political struggle within the University and opposed many of the University’s policies, winning each one successfully. He was the initiator to a spark, an inspiration to all left-wing students of the communist regime in India. Assassinated by the opposing party on the streets of Siwan in 1997, the reaction led to a mass movement by students from Delhi to Siwan. In his words, “My ambition is to live like Bhagat Singh and die like Che Guevara!” Till today, Comrade Chandrashekar Prasad is considered as a martyr with red salutes up high and firm!

Kavita Krishnan

7. Kavita Krishnan: Secretary of the All India Progressive Women’s Association, vivid skeptic, editor of ‘Liberation’: the monthly publication of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist), Kavita Krishnan is the unshaken voice to every woman’s rage against repression. Her famous speech at the house of Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit during the 2012 Delhi gang-rape protests was an eye-opener to the governance who took the unblemished strength of the activist’s voice for granted. Her use of euphemism, strength of eloquence and the need for answers resulted wordless Sheila finally speak-out.  Kavita Krishnan has also been a student activist, helping to organize women students on many campuses to demand mechanisms against sexual harassment. Kavita is the notable enlightening activist on the block!



8. Prakash Karat (Born: 1948): Serving as the General Secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), Prakash is an achiever. He began his debut in student politics during his course in Masters in Politics at the University of Edinburg when he met Victor Kiernan, a well-known Marxist historian. He was rusticated by the university for his righteous protests at the University. In the later years, he continued to spread the red dogma at the Jawaharlal Nehru University during his Ph.D., thus founding the Student’s Federation of India (SFI). His books and political writings continue to inspire pro-Marxist students in India.

Dayamani Barla

9. Dayamani Barla: ‘Adivasi’ by birth, journalist by stream, socialist by choice. Jharkhand’s Dayamani Barla’s struggle of making a mark among the tribal communities in the state has its own unique tale to tell. Her organization ‘Adivasi, Moolvaasi, Astitwa Raksha Manch’ continues to fight against the installation of Arcelor Mittal’s billion-dollar steel project which may cause to dislocate at least 40 villages and also endanger the eco-system, water sources and the environment. Her remarkable move has been notable for her activism. Dayamani is also the National President of Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF). A writer for a popular Hindi newspaper called Prabhat Khaba, Dayamani brings to the attention of the numerous social problems faced by the tribal communities in Jharkhand. Her achievement in both journalism as well as activism has won her a number of prestigious awards and laurels which truly makes her an inspiration on our list.

Kiran Bedi

10. Kiran Bedi: Her urge to be outstanding is an inspiration to all women aspiring to be the Indian Police Officer dream. Apart from being the first woman in Indian history to join the Indian Police Service, Kiran Bedi always finds her way towards empowering a social cause. She is also the founder of two NGOs, Navjyoti and India Vision Foundation which reaches to more than thousands of under-served children, women and men in the areas of education, vocational skills, environment, counseling, health and care to urban and rural poor, including prisoners and policemen’s children. Kiran Bedi is a name to every courageous woman, a symbol of esteem on the other side of the coin. Her bravery has won her many laurels. Kiran Bedi is a name never to be forgotten.

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  1. harish

    Kavita Krishnan is a rabid man-hating demented commie and is hardly worthy of being called an inspirational leader. She could learn a thing or two from a kick-ass policewoman like Kiran Bedi

    And naxal leader Charu ? Prakash Karat? I guess there is nothing *Left* to say about your leaders

  2. prathamk14

    Inspirational I am not sure. Influential- Yes. Kavita Krishnan does not deserve to be in the same list as Shahid Bhagat Singh and Chndrashekar Azad in my view. Also a bit too much extreme leftism vocation may not be very well perceived by readers who may fairly claim to be liberals.

    My friend, I strongly feel that this nation is in need of leaders who have a very different challenge than what Azad or Bhagat Singh had. I commend you for this post but I feel maybe you should try to shed some light upon more recent role models

  3. Incredible_India

    Would definitely agree with Bhagat Singh, Azad and Kiran Bedi. ( They deserve it)

    But Kavita Krishnan?? Prakash Karat?? seriously? The author seems to have only a leftist view of inspirational people!! Or perhaps he is already out canvasing for the commie gang for 2014, or commies seem to have begun to use this platform for their agendas.

    Anyways amazed to see the authors narrow minded view on inspirational people of India!! They may be inspirational for him, but not to India!! Please rectify the title!!

  4. Varun Sharma

    Prakash Karat and Kavita Krishnan!!!!??????? IS the author a fan of Lord Bendtner???? If Leftists can fit in Why no Savarkar and Vajpayee?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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