Best Of June: 10 YKA Users Who Spoke Up For What Matters

Posted by Anugraha Hadke in Staff Picks, Youth Ki Awaaz news
June 30, 2017

In the month of June, Youth Ki Awaaz saw thousands of new users joining the community, and with them came hundreds of stories. From powerful opinion pieces on the growing violence in India, to touching personal narratives and inspiring stories of success, these voices represent a call for change. In this monthly wrap, we present 10 such users whose stories challenged the status quo.

1. Munawar Hussain’s unique perspective on Kashmir

Munawar started writing on YKA in April, 2017 and each of the 12 stories he published this month bring out a new aspect about his life as a Kashmiri and the struggles and triumphs that come with it.

Read Munawar’s top post this month:

Our Horrifying Experience Of Being Indian Cricket Fans In Kashmir

Though there are many conflicts among followers of Islam, a majority of them support the obligation that requires them to mourn the death of fellow Muslims for four days. This eventually ends with the R asm-e-Charum (where special prayers are offered to the deceased on the fourth day of mourning).

“I had a story to tell and nobody was ready to share it. And then one of my friends said: ‘Why don’t you post it on YKA?’ Right from that day, I have been venting my repressed thoughts and emotions. For every Citizen Journalist, YKA is like a sacred diary where thousands of minds visit and read your view of the world.” – Follow Munawar on YKA

2. Arunima Singh slams the toxic nationalism she saw during the ICC Champions Trophy

Another regular user, Arunima’s recent story was a powerful commentary on the social media response to the first India Vs. Pakistan match in the ICC Champions Trophy. She boldly calls out Facebook posts that spread pure hatred and misogyny garbed as ‘jokes’ after India’s victory.

Read Arunima’s story:

When Facebook Sexism Meets Toxic Nationalism In The Name Of Comedy

Pepe, the frog might be dead, but sexist and racist humour is here to stay, apparently! Sometime around the evening of June, 5, I spotted a post in this Facebook group which had the picture of a man in the Indian jersey with his arms on the shoulders of a woman in the Pakistani jersey.

Follow Arunima on YKA

3. Neha Agarwalla’s inspiring story of how she challenged society’s idea of beauty

Published as a part of #MyStartupStory, a campaign by Youth Ki Awaaz and Facebook India, Neha’s story brought out the journey and the struggles of wanting to be ‘pretty’ and ‘thin’ like the women she saw on TV, and how that inspired her to start her own CrossFit box that’s challenging that very idea of beauty.

Read Neha’s story:

How I Started A Gym That Redefines The Idea Of ‘Perfect Bodies’

Editor’s Note: With #MyStartupStory, Facebook and Youth Ki Awaaz are coming together to help you scale your business. Share your startup story and write to us if you want to host a workshop in your college! Growing up, I wanted to be “pretty” and thin, like the women on TV.

“Writing this story for YKA was a little intimidating to begin with, but in the end, I felt great because it made me revisit all the amazing memories that made CrossFit such big part of my life as well as think of my personal goals.”Follow Neha on YKA

4. Meera Kumar’s story on how caste discrimination hit her when she moved to India

Meera is a Fulbright Research Scholar based in Santiniketan. Having grown up in the United States, she describes how she was made to believe that caste did not exist. She explains how after moving back to India last year the reality and gravity of discrimination hit her.

Read Meera’s story:

Brought Up Abroad, I Was Taught That Caste Doesn’t Exist. Then I Moved To India

Last month, my grandma recited a story to me that she had heard on the news: ” Boy and girl love each other – but boy is from a lower caste. The families disapprove but they elope anyway. A few weeks later, the boy is found dead, killed by the girl’s father.

“Youth Ki Awaaz has given me a platform to reflect on my year in India and engage in a larger conversation on contemporary issues that matter. I love bringing my perspective as an Indian-American to the dialogue and hope that my writing helps break barriers.” – Follow Meera on YKA

5. Shailza Sharma reports about a massive violation of labour rights in Haryana

Shailza is currently an advocate in Delhi. Her detailed report on the situation of workers in the Aisin Automotive factory reveals how severe the exploitation is. Paid nothing for overtime work, workers are also denied the very basics such as water breaks.

Read Shailza’s story:

Punished For Acts Like ‘Drinking Water’, How 400 Workers In Haryana Are Suffering

On May 31, 2017, approximately 600 workers were lathicharged outside the gates of Aisin Automotive Haryana Private Limited. Subsequently, 390 men and 35 women were arrested and sent to jail. Their crime? They tried to form a trade union to secure their rights.

Follow Shailza on YKA

6. Arjun Natarajan breaks down everything that is wrong with censorship in India

In a series of three posts, Arjun takes on the censorship and certification laws in India, the role the Censor Board (actually the Certification Board) should play and what recourse filmmakers can take if the CBFC takes extreme measures against their films. Extremely informative and important posts given the recent banning spurt.

Read Arjun’s latest story:

5 Things Filmmakers Must Know To Save Their Film From Censor Board’s Scissors

India’s film certification law is vague, to say the least. Monitored by CBFC, there is immense scope for errors while certifying films. CBFC can pass an order refusing to certify a film, or, an order directing a filmmaker to carry out excisions (cuts) and modifications as a condition precedent to certify a film, or, an order granting only an “A” certificate to a film.

“YKA’s vast and diverse readership enables ideas to freely travel to a very wide and varied audience. I congratulate YKA for the commendable job that it is doing.”Follow Arjun on YKA

7. Saumya Srivastava brings a heartwarming story of faith and religious tolerance

Saumya first began posting stories on YKA three months ago with her experience of choosing to be a full-time mother over having a career, and the importance of having that choice as a woman. This month, she shared how her husband’s faith and dedication in keeping Rozas during Ramzan taught her the true meaning of what the month stands for.

Read Saumya’s most recent story:

My Husband’s Inspiring Belief In Islam Taught Me The True Meaning Of Ramadan

As a kid, all Eid meant to me was a lot of non-vegetarian food at Junaid uncle’s house. He was a dear friend to my father, residing in a flat right above ours. Like a tradition, we used to go their place on Eid for dinner and aunty used to be ready with all the delicacies you would expect in a Muslim home.

8. Anupriya Kapur slams the body shaming that women face in pursuit of fitness

An athlete and fitness enthusiast, Anupriya runs the popular blog ‘Mom on the Run’. Through her first post on YKA, she talks about how women are made to feel ashamed of their clothes and bodies while working out.

Read Anupriya’s story:

6 Things Women Should Stop Feeling Embarrassed About While Working Out

I face the problem of camel toe with most of my workout tights. In fact, for the longest time, I rejected most of my workout tights because of that. It got me thinking that instead of comfort, women have to think about so many things when they should be concentrating on just getting fit.

Follow Anupriya on YKA

9. Saurabh Sharma on the stifling environment for the LGBTQ community in India

Saurabh joined Youth Ki Awaaz with two powerful posts on the queer community and the stigma they continue to face, especially in India. His second post shares a list of 19 beautiful movies that represent LGBTQ lives as they are in real life, not the ridiculous stereotypes popular culture often reduces them to.

Read Saurabh’s most recent post:

Indian Society Doesn’t Want Us To Watch These 19 Films About LGBTQ Lives

Movies are a reflection of society. But there are movies which society doesn’t want you to see because it is feared that they may pollute your mind by endorsing the freedom to choose who you are, the freedom to love who you want, and most importantly, the freedom to live the way you want to.

“I learned about YKA when I was in the second year of graduation and loved it because it was probably the first time in popular media that articles were being published on Gender & Sexuality. The rare sensitivity with which they were written is what attracted me to read those stories. Both the articles which I’ve written have been LGBT-themed and have been received well. Thanks YKA for letting us have our space to self-publish!” – Follow Saurabh on YKA

10. Sourajit Aiyer breaks down important economic policies and global politics

An author of two books and multiple articles on over 38 publications, Sourajit is a regular YKA user who writes detailed analyses about the Indian economy and how global events are shaping the political environment. His posts are carefully researched and explained in simple language and make for an interesting read for anyone wanting to understand economic issues in a straightforward manner.

Read Sourajit’s most recent story:

Why Startup Obsessed South Asia Is The Perfect Opportunity For Indian Entrepreneurs

During recent visits to Bangladesh, Nepal, and Bhutan; it was impossible to not notice the growing interest of their youth in entrepreneurship. Be it an inadequacy of office jobs to match the demand, or the lure of the start-up culture, this interest has taken a definite hold.

“YKA covers contemporary topics across multiple disciplines which are shaping the India of tomorrow. This has been my main motivation to contribute similar relevant content to YKA. The quality of editing and the impetus on the authenticity of data quoted ensures the content is not mere opinion or rhetoric, rather it is fact based inferences.” – Follow Sourajit on YKA