2016 was a big year for Youth Ki Awaaz – for one, this was the year you truly owned the platform as yours, directly publishing your stories and sharing them ahead with thousands! Over the years, you’ve created and strengthened this community of smart, forward-thinking individuals and this year too, you pushed the envelope even more, and didn’t hold back when it came to writing about issues that we as a society continue to struggle with addressing.
From moving personal stories of dealing with abuse or mental health issues to sharp political commentary, from entrepreneurial journeys to the struggles a student in India is put through – you spoke about it all.
Here’s a look at some of the strongest voices (in no particular order) that defined our year and started some very important conversations.
Following the attack on the Pathankot Air Base which left seven defence personnel dead, Amrit overheard two men she describes as ‘educated, suited-booted gentlemen’ discussing how the family of the martyred soldiers were lucky because of the big compensation they would receive. Being an army officer’s daughter, this hit her hard, the result was this powerful story that describes just how hard it is to have a family member in the defence forces.
Follow Amrit on Youth Ki Awaaz.
Our business analysis specialist published some insightful stories on the edge Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali has over its competitors, why Paper Boat has become such a hit with our generation, and how washing powder Nirma became India’s leading detergent. Our favourite though, has to be the story about how Pulse candy became such a national favourite with barely any advertising. Ishan’s stories were read and loved by over 100,000 people!
Follow Ishan on Youth Ki Awaaz.
After four Dalit men were publicly flogged in Una, Gujarat, for skinning a dead cow, human rights activist Saunvedan wrote on Youth Ki Awaaz about how caste-based violence and oppression operates across the country. His fiery open letter to the upper-caste grocer who reportedly hacked a Dalit couple to death for a ₹15 debt, is a must-read.
Follow Saunvedan on Youth Ki Awaaz.
India’s education system creates a high-pressure environment for students, who are pushed to become part of a rat race, especially when it comes to engineering. Kota in Rajasthan is (in)famous as the hub for coaching engineering aspirants, and where hundreds of these students face so much pressure that many are even pushed to suicide.
Tamoghna’s bare-all story of her experience in Kota, feeling like a “robot”, and coping with depression, was read by over 70,000 people and touched a chord with a lot of us who’ve been a part of this messed up system.
Follow Tamoghna on Youth Ki Awaaz.
Jolly is a 29-year-old executive who works at a multinational bank. As part of YKA’s campaign with WaterAid India to spread awareness about the reality of toilet access in the country, she wrote about how as a wheelchair user, she does not have the facility of an accessible washroom in her workplace. Read by over 170,000 people and shared by over 20,000 people, this story led to Jolly’s workplace to make “every damn effort” to make the washroom accessible for her. More power to you, Jolly!
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On July 28, Sumedha wrote an open letter to Christ University in Bangalore, criticising the administration for keeping classes at a time when a bandh had been declared throughout the city. Following this, numerous students from Christ University wrote in – sharing their experiences with the administration and revealed some regressive rules imposed on the students. All of these stories were read by over 100,000 people!
Here is the story that started it all:
Follow Sumedha on Youth Ki Awaaz.
Women’s innerwear has always made many uncomfortable, and visible bra straps are the worst apparently. Most Indian girls have grown up with code names to alert their female friends of visible bra straps that need to be immediately covered up. This discomfort is rooted in the patriarchy that does its best to control women’s bodies and sexuality and finds a way to justify rape culture. Sindhuvasini, with her bold story, slammed these notions brilliantly.
Follow Sindhuvasini on Youth Ki Awaaz.
After watching the acclaimed film “Sairat”, Prem wrote a touching piece on how inter-caste love is the “ultimate assault on the caste system” in today’s times. The story resonated with many young people and was shared widely. Prem is also the co-founder of the brilliant ‘Dalit Panther Project’, which he has introduced on Youth Ki Awaaz here.
Follow Prem on Youth Ki Awaaz.
The Youth Ki Awaaz community is proudly known for how it continues to break the stigma around menstruation and busts myths around it, that otherwise often harm women’s health. Exposing just how important these conversations are, Vedanshi shared her experience from a village in Uttarakhand, where she was made to drink cow’s urine to ‘purify’ herself, as both men and women there believed that a menstruating woman is ‘dirty and impure’. Thank you, Vedanshi for highlighting one of the many ridiculous myths that surround menstruation. The more we know about them, the better we can fight them!
Follow Vedanshi on Youth Ki Awaaz.
We first got in touch with Vinayana for #Access4All – a campaign jointly run by CBM Trust India and Youth Ki Awaaz, aiming to create impactful conversation around the need for making public spaces accessible in India. As part of the campaign, Vinayana shared her experience of growing up with cerebral palsy, and the challenges she faced simply because our infrastructure and services aren’t planned keeping persons with disability in mind. Following this, Vinayana has become a regular contributor and has shared many more stories with us, each bringing up a new perspective on living with disability which most of us tend to overlook.
Vinayana also featured in a video that showed how Delhi’s posh Khan Market is inaccessible for people in wheelchairs. The video, was seen by over a million people!
Follow Vinayana on Youth Ki Awaaz.
In October, ace Indian shooter Heena Sidhu made news for withdrawing from a tournament in Iran, refusing the compulsory hijab. Activist and journalist Masih Alinejad, founder of the brilliant ‘My Stealthy Freedom’ movement against compulsory hijab in Iran, wrote about how Heena’s bold stand is a step forward for women’s rights in Iran. Masih also wrote another very important piece on why before attacking Trump, the President of Iran should fix the human rights violations in his own country.
Follow Masih on Youth Ki Awaaz.
“My son was forced to pick up the gun” – in a powerful interview with Ahmed Wani, Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani’s father, journalist Mir Basit Hussain brought out an extremely important aspect about the rise of insurgency in Kashmir. The interview, which was read by over 70,000 people, and quoted heavily by mainstream media after Burhan Wani was killed, remains one of YKA’s most significant exclusives of 2016.
Follow Mir on Youth Ki Awaaz.
“Banasthali University or a jail for girls” – Nikhil’s bold piece about this university in Rajasthan’s Tonk district sparked many conversations about equality for women students and created a debate on social media as well. Shared over 13,000 times, Nikhil’s story also blew the lid off student suicides at the university.
Follow Nikhil on Youth Ki Awaaz.
India’s films have for years, passed off stalking as ‘intense love’ or ‘romance’. Iswarya started a petition campaign called #CallingOutStalking and demanded for change. Her piece on YKA points out the exact problem with the glorification of stalking! We are super happy that her petition went viral, and got the support of hundreds.
Follow Iswarya on Youth Ki Awaaz.
In a shocking incident, a woman was publicly beaten up in Uttar Pradesh’s Mainpuri for resisting molestation. Abhishek Prakash, a member of the U. P. Police force, wrote an open letter to the state’s CM, highlighting the crimes against minorities in the state, and demanding change. In his powerful letter, Prakash says that he felt the blood stains on the woman’s body were on his khaki uniform, as he had failed to protect an innocent citizen. In just 24 hours, this piece was read by over 24,000 people and shared over 15,000 times.
Follow Abhishek Prakash on Youth Ki Awaaz.
An eyewitness account of a shocking incident was first published on YKA ( and even made front-page news on the Times of India this December), by ace writer, Shreen Vaid. Shreen narrated the incident where a woman was caught carrying an axe on the Metro in detail and questioned the Delhi Metro’s security procedures. “Today the security missed an axe, tomorrow they would miss a gun or a bomb,” she wrote.
Follow Shreen on Youth Ki Awaaz.
We’re extremely grateful that our community perceives YKA as a safe space where they can openly express vulnerability and write about sensitive personal experiences without any fear of being judged or labelled. These two stories were among the ones we received anonymously this year, and they helped break the silence around child sexual abuse and abortion respectively. We really respect the writers who shared these stories with us and cannot convey in words the impact they have had on others who might have suffered similarly. Their words gave others courage and that, in the end, is what the YKA community is all about.
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It has been an absolute joy to read and share these stories on Youth Ki Awaaz. We hope to see more powerful narratives that start the change. You could be on this list next year, get started now!