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Stuck In A Job You Hate? This ‘Chief Happiness Officer’ Has A Solution For You

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By Kamal Seth:

The idea for the #DoWhatYouLove movement took shape in my head during my college years in 2005-08 at Delhi University. I noticed that a lot of my friends were studying what they were, not because they were passionate about those subjects, but chiefly because they had managed to clear the cut-offs. This also meant that after graduation, they did a job or an MBA to get a good salary and not because they would truly enjoy what they would do.

Before founding Human Circle, I worked as a recruiter for large organisations like Nestle, Philips, Mindvalley, AIESEC etc and ended up doing over 2000 interviews in 8-10 years. Interacting with people across different age groups, I found a very disturbing pattern – I realised that they were doing something that they didn’t love. In many cases, they were unproductive, unhappy and not content with their career and life in general. In 2014, we founded Human Circle to ‘connect enlightened minds’ and drive the #DoWhatYouLove movement.

Kamal Seth, Founder & Chief Happiness Officer, Human Circle

In 2014, when we opened applications for the first Young India Challenge at IIT Delhi, we surprisingly got over 700 applications within two months for just 100 delegate positions. We were curious to know what made so many people apply. When we asked them the same during the interviews, they told us that YIC’s theme of #DoWhatYouLove connected with them on a deeper level. They wanted to experience something that no other event was offering in Delhi at that point of time.

The biggest challenge we faced during the event was that the room which we had booked to start the first session was occupied by a Professor who had apparently not been informed about YIC. We gathered the 100 delegates of the first ever YIC in the lawns and started the first workshop ‘Turn Your Passion into a Career’ there itself. Three hours later, we finally got another room to continue the event. This experience made us even more determined to never give up. But the support from the delegates was amazing. They did not complain at all and fully participated in the session, even though it was done without any projectors, mikes etc. Since then we have never looked back.

So far, close to 1500 people have attended the eight YICs that we have organised – seven in Delhi and one in Mumbai. We are self-funded and therefore have limited resources to invest in building a sophisticated online system to connect people. It is a challenge to keep a track of the experience of each and every attendant but many of them stay connected through our online group on Facebook and WhatsApp, as well as physical meet-ups that we have started organising recently.

The YIC alumni often share with us how YIC was the kind of push they needed to finally find what they truly love doing. Many have started new college societies, start-ups, clubs, and projects, or have gone back to a passion area that they had left behind due to academic, parental, or other pressures. Many alumni also continue to get guidance from our mentors and life coaches. Many pursue careers in the organisations of our mentors, speakers and eco-system partners. We offer recommendation letters to the most deserving candidates, and this helps them in receiving admissions and/or scholarships to pursue higher studies/jobs. More than 150 individuals have also gone through the Happiness Team program of Human Circle, where they work as interns and volunteers for the #DoWhatYouLove movement.

Kamal, during Young India Challenge at IIT Delhi, in March 2017

It is true that we don’t focus on big brands and names for our programs and events. We believe that people should engage with the #DoWhatYouLove movement not because some big shot is telling them, but because they connect with the idea on a personal level. We want the YIC experience to be unique for every individual. Everyone has their own needs and expectations. We believe that not everyone is ready to follow their passion for different reasons. Our target audience comprises of people who are action-oriented, early adopters of new ideas who are willing to take risks at an early stage of life. Very often we see that if big sponsors are involved with an event, they inevitably influence the focus of the agenda and it becomes highly commercialised in a wrong way. It’s not that we have a policy to not work with big brands – we are just selective in our choice. For example, in the past, we have invited speakers and mentors from companies like Microsoft, Facebook, Hindustan Unilever, KPMG, Techstars etc. but they came in their individual capacities. YIC is a not-for-profit, self-sustainable initiative and we want to keep it this way, to stay focused on our mission of engaging the youth of India. Delegates pay a basic fee which helps us to keep it going. Any surplus that we make gets invested in building our organisational capacity and investing in new cities where YIC should be organised.

Human Circle is a community of people driving the #DoWhatYouLove movement – a community of students, artists, freelancers, entrepreneurs, young professionals, authors, speakers, trainers, coaches, mentors and everybody else who believes that the only way to be truly successful, rich and happy in life is by doing what we love. This simple wisdom is translated by our ‘happiness team’ into experiential physical/virtual platforms and programs like hangouts, seminars, workshops, conferences, retreats, masterminds and festivals. By the end of 2017, we will have connected at least 2 million people with the #DoWhatYouLove movement.

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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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