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9 Important People Who Set A Strong Example In Their Fields In 2013

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By Thomson Chakramakkil:

Epochs in the history of civilizations have been marked by the glorification of great human deeds. In the flow of time, the definitions of greatness have evolved considerably, leaving the basic need for manufacturing celebrities intact. The following list of top-nine-people-of-2013, from a very Indian perspective, which doesn’t allow room for many surprises, can be seen as such a well-intentioned attempt at lubricating the social machinery.


Arvind Kejriwal: The new Delhi Chief Minister and the AAP leader is incontestably the occupant of the top spot in the list, and that comes as no surprise. In the course of the year, this man has managed to do much more than hold the attention of the Indian public. Kejriwal, as a matter of fact, has changed the political course of the nation by leading a revolution that was well beyond the public imagination and managed to challenge the notion that ‘change’ is still a utopian dream in the Indian political landscape. Not a single day has passed this year without a mention of his name in the media, and multiple news agencies have, with very little hesitation, declared him as the Indian of the year.


Narendra Modi: If there is somebody who can compete with Kejriwal for the top spot, that would most definitely be the abundantly celebrated Prime Ministerial candidate, whom the youth of the nation hail as the progress-friendly leader. The reason why Kejriwal wangled more screen-time than Modi in the political theatre is probably because of the fact that the former tax-inspector’s growth in politics was rather radical and fast-paced as opposed to Modi’s steady, perceptible growth, which managed to create what I call a Gujarat-model-ripple-effect.


Sachin Tendulkar: ‘God of Cricket’ would be an understatement if an attempt is made to describe a man who unites the entire country. The pain his retirement inflicted on his near-religious fans is well beyond words. Tendulkar leaving the crease marks the curtain call for a long history of sportsmanship that moved a generation that grew up watching the master blaster’s straight drives.

Prannoy Roy

Prannoy Roy: When Prannoy Roy started NDTV two and a half decades back, he could not have possibly imagined the part non-governmental media was to play in the country, as the watch-dog of democracy and voice of the people. Earlier this month, during the 25th anniversary speech he gave at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, he reminded us once again that the sole attribute journalism thrives on, is trust. As one of the most influential Indians on the planet today, Roy seemed to have grown so much with the media-house he founded, and garnered the trust of the nation by setting the path for the new, free fourth-estate.

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela: The great African leader’s demise brought the entire world to tears and marked a poignant closure to this eventful year. Mandela’s memorial service, which was graced by numerous world leaders, was surrounded by a great deal of controversies, which gave the function some undesirable media attention. Nevertheless, the past year witnessed the whole world coming together to commemorate the legacy of the peerless revolutionary, who will continue to live in the hearts of the people.

arnab goswami

Arnab Goswami: Arnab Goswami is a name that generates mixed responses in any given part of the country. Over the years, this news anchor has come to represent the glamour and vigour of neo-journalism in an unparalleled manner. He’s probably the best at what he does, and his followers love him for not mincing his words. In the past year, blogs and social networks have either heartily glorified or severely condemned him. The Newshour clips and its parodies that filled the cyberspace, in an evidently overwhelming fashion, itself is a testimony to how strongly the nation feels about Goswami.


Pope Francis: The new Pope seems to the coolest of Peter’s successors till date, going by what opinion polls have to say. Considering the moral authority rested in the leader of one of the largest religious establishments, the Pope’s unorthodox, non-judgmental way of approaching and spreading his faith is definitely worth remarking upon. Going by how things are working out for the Catholic Church, there is hope left for religions of the world, which were previously heading in the wrong direction.


CNR Rao: Rao is probably the only chemist who received a celebrity-like coverage by the Indian media. And interestingly, the Bharat Ratna he was awarded with, this year had very little to do with it. Just after the announcement of his award, Rao went on to call the politicians of the country “idiots” in a press conference, which made him the centre of media attention and, possibly, the most controversial scientist India has ever seen.

Maria Alyokhina

Maria Alyokhina: Maria Alyokhina, the political activist/prisoner and the member of the feminist-punk-rock band Pussy Riot, captured a fair amount of media attention with her fierce criticism of Putin and the Russian socio-political machinery. Though, she and her band members were penalized severely by the Government on charges of hooliganism, religious hatred and other violations of similar bent, the past year bore testimony to international community stepping up for them.

While such lists are inherently incomplete and brutally subjective, I feel that the individuals mentioned here have been successful in affecting us in some way or the other, and teaching us that there is a lot to learned from a year passed.

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  1. Sneha Roychoudhury

    Though I have my reservations on a few names that made it to this list, one in particular, I have to say there are some rather interesting picks. When I first saw the headline, the name that had come to me instinctively was Arnab Goswami. The mover and shaker of Indian media, indeed. Though he makes heads roll and gets huge amounts of flak, he does a job there and means business. Much is truly to be learnt from these people, though a lot of it may fall under the “don’ts” list too.

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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, 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.

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