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This Is What Makes Quizzing More Than Just Answers; It Is A Culture And A Way Of Life

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By Catherine Nipps:

“But beyond the bright searchlights of science, Out of sight of the windows of sense, Old riddles still bid us defiance, Old questions of Why and of Whence.” ~ Sir William Cecil Dampier Whetham

About 40 years ago, before television was a part of our daily lives, the Bournvita Quiz Contest (BQC) went on air, and people all over India listened as Hamid Sayani and then his brother, Ameen brought quizzing home to India. Soon, afternoons spent listening to BQC on the radio became a part of the lifestyle in many homes across the country. I know that I’m a part of that generation that might remember waiting eagerly for BQC to start every Sunday afternoon, with Derek O’Brien as the quizmaster when the show was introduced on television twenty years later.

quiz

The 80’s and the early 90’s saw quizzing become a household name in India with the arrival of many popular shows like the Bata’s North Star Quiz and Siddhartha Basu’s Quiz Time and later, India Quiz. The craze and popularity for quizzing and general knowledge was at its peak and as a result, dozens of quiz shows and competitions popped up everywhere. Many of these ended up being dumb game shows, rather than actually being about learning and seeking knowledge. However, the bar was raised after Mastermind India made its debut on Indian television in 1998 with its unique format of written tests, rapid fire rounds and superior content. Apart from the United Kingdom, India is the only country where this program was conducted.

Then, of course, came the most popular reality game show that Indians today confuse with actual quizzing. Kaun Banega Crorepati which went on air in the year 2000 had all its i’s dotted and its t’s crossed; it found a charismatic and extremely popular host in Amitabh Bachchan; had simple rules, straightforward questions, middle class participants, and tons of money. It brought quiz mania to a new high, which is still going strong today because of this mantra.

In 2004, Tata Crucible a high quality business quiz conducted by the Tata group for the sharpest corporate minds in India generated huge response and became an annual event which has a great following even today. The Brand Equity Quiz and NDTV’s Croma Tech Grandmasters are some of the other business quiz shows quite popular these days.

All the while when quiz programs and game shows were busy becoming a rage on television, in the background there was a different kind of quizzing culture that was brewing in Engineering and Business colleges across India. For hardcore, serious quizzers and learning enthusiasts, this type of quizzing slowly became dominant in colleges over the last decade. It started with a few groups and quiz clubs in campuses across India which later led to a spurt of quiz blogs, websites dedicated to hardcore quizzing and treasure hunts, and hundreds of Facebook pages and groups.

Today, if you ask college students, especially those with Engineering and Business backgrounds, what exactly is quizzing? They’ll tell you, it’s all about self-learning and opening the mind to new possibilities to absorb knowledge, which has no bounds. Contrary to popular belief, quizzing is not about mugging up facts and answers. It’s a continuous, never-ending process of challenging yourself; a mind sport, if you may. It is much more than a test or an exam. Today, it’s a culture; a way of life.

The only thing is that this culture has largely been underground in the recent years with a lack of good quizzing websites or online portals, and it desperately needs to be revived and shared. This is where a new Indian start up comes into notice. Making a niche for itself in this way of life is a young company, Quizot headed by quizzing buffs and childhood friends, Varun Jain and Akshay Bajaj. It was founded by them when they felt the need to create something fresh and compelling not just for quizzers but for anyone who was interested in learning something new. With its fresh, and superior content, Quizot which was launched just two months ago, is already creating waves in the quizzing circuit. As one eager follower says, “Quizot is online quizzing finally being done right!” The young team hopes to develop it as a learning platform; focusing specifically on the type of learning that is done apart from regular studies. In the world of quizzing where just like before, there are hundreds of others, fake and real, who are trying to make it every day, I hope in earnest that Quizot manages to differentiate itself and create something sustainable.

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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.

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.

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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.

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 Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’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.

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