Best Of September: 10 Must-Read Stories From YKA’s Top Users

Posted by Anugraha Hadke in Staff Picks
October 2, 2017

After over two years at Youth Ki Awaaz, working directly with hundreds of users who use the platform every day, I’ve seen various motivations for writing. Some write to share a personal experience that had an impact on their lives. Some write because they feel that YKA is one of the only places where they can challenge the mainstream media’s monopoly. Others write because this is the space they can use to reach out to thousands of people, and at the same time, have a safe space to grow as writers and as a community.

Irrespective of their motivation, the underlying goal is almost always the same – to address an important issue that affects us as a society, to challenge regressive norms that try to oppress, to start the change.

This month, here are 10 issues that users addressed using Youth Ki Awaaz as their platform.

1. The Murder Of Free Speech In India

On September 5, eminent journalist Gauri Lankesh was murdered right outside her house. Lankesh was known for being a vocal critic of the government and the rise of violent Hindutva in the country. Her death, along with justified anger, brought back the question of freedom of speech in India that has been hanging over our heads like a sword since the murder of rationalists like M.M. Kalburgi and Narendra Dabholkar. The anger had barely subsided when another journalist, Santanu Bhowmik from Tripura was brutally murdered while covering a protest. Is dissent no longer our democratic right? Will criticising the government or holding our leaders accountable land you in jail? And will expressing your opinion get you killed?

In her open letter to the Prime Minister, Bijasmita Debnath raises these very questions and highlights how India has become more dangerous for journalists than war-torn countries like Afghanistan and authoritarian regimes like Pakistan.

Dear PM Modi, You Have Failed India’s Journalists

The Prime Minister, Respected Sir, You have failed journalism. I hope you’re aware that it was Santanu this time. I’m writing this letter today because writing is my passion and to speak up against crucial instances is my intent. We’ve all come across the phrase, ‘a pen is mightier than a sword’.

Follow Bijasmita on YKA

2. What Climate Change Is Doing To Our Cities

The flooding of Mumbai in August was a result of extreme weather and our refusal to adapt to climate change. Despite facing similar floods in 2005 that killed over 500 people, the city was still not prepared to handle another massive rainfall. This year too, at least 14 people died.

Flooding in cities is bad for every citizen, but those who are living with limited access to amenities face the biggest challenge. In a detailed analysis this month, Deepak John explains the extent of health-related damage caused by floods in the city, especially the economically marginalised.

Who Suffers The Most When A City Gets Flooded?

OnAugust 29, the monsoon fury unleashed on Mumbai and brought the city to a grinding halt. Two toddlers were among 14 people killed in the floods. It received nearly a month’s average rainfall in a single day -halting the transit lifeline of train services and leading to several flight cancellations.

Follow Deepak on YKA

3. The Unheard Protesters At Jantar Mantar

For decades now, Jantar Mantar has been the hub of protests in the capital. On any given day, there would be about 10-15 separate protests being carried on simultaneously. Some, like the Jan Lokpal Bill protest led by Anna Hazare, gather a massive following and the government’s response. Others like the Tamil farmers demanding drought relief, spend months on end with no results. They get some attention from the media, but it soon fizzles out.

Then there are those protests that remain invisible. Groups that have been protesting for decades with almost no acknowledgement from the government or the media. In his on-ground reports this month, Sumantra Mukherjee has brought forward such protests. One of them is the story of Santosh Kumar – a man from Uttar Pradesh who was declared dead in 2003 and has been protesting to prove that he’s alive ever since.

A Man Declared Dead In 2003 Is Alive And Protesting At Jantar Mantar

Walking down the street of the Jantar Mantar road, in the middle of protests ranging from the farmers’ agitation, army veterans demanding OROP, the disciples of Rampal and the Asha workers, a man stands with a placard tied around his neck saying ‘Dead Man Alive’.

Follow Sumantra on YKA

4. The Economic And Political Weekly Is Dying

Established in 1966, the Economic and Political Weekly has been widely known as the meeting ground for intellectuals to discuss pressing concerns on development and politics. EPW has never been shy of publishing new, unusual or offbeat arguments. Its defining identity is its independent and critical stance on issues.

Now, 51 years later, it seems to have reached the limit of its ability to cater to the new generation of readers. The past few years have seen a steady decline in readership, along with frequent resignations from its editors-in-chief.

Prof. P. Radhakrishnan, who had been closely associated with EPW since 1979 as a writer as well as a friend of its then Editor Krishna Raj, shared his experiences with the magazine and the reasons behind why it is now on its deathbed.

The Economic And Political Weekly Is Dying

I began my association with the Economic and Political Weekly (EPW) in early 1979, when I sent a hand-written book review to Krishna Raj – my first contribution to EPW, from the field where I was collecting data for my PhD thesis.

Follow P. Radhakrishnan on YKA

5. How Technology Is Reaching The Marginalised

There’s an app for everything – to wake you up, to plan your day, to remind you to drink water. Technology is all around us to make our lives simpler, but is it reaching all of us?

The spread of communication and the internet was aimed at creating the world a global village. However, there is a clear top-down approach to this. There is a reason why a terror attack in Paris gets a hashtag and not an attack in Afghanistan, why floods in Mumbai get more attention than floods in Assam.

To address this issue, Biraj Swain, along with her team, created a healthcare app that can work in remote rural areas, without any internet or signal coverage. She shares her story of how they made it happen.

How We Made A Health App That Works In Remote Rural Areas Without Internet

Over half a century ago, communications guru and public intellectual Marshall McLuhan predicted that electronic interdependence will make the world a global village. But last month, Simon Tisdall of The Guardian called out the international media for creating a hierarchy of suffering by focusing on Hurricane Harvey more than on the devastating floods in South Asia and South East Asia.

Follow Biraj on YKA

6. The Plight Of Rohingya Muslim Refugees In India

Much has been said about Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims in India, little has been done.

In its hopes to keep amiable relations with the Aung San Suu Kyi government, India’s stand towards the refugees has been nothing but harsh. As it tries to deport over the 40,000 Rohingya in the name of illegal immigration, it is hard to not question the situation on humanitarian grounds.

While their future is debated in the courts, fact remains that thousands are living in sub-human conditions in the country. In her photo story, Prerna Sharma brings out the lives of refugees settled in a camp in Kalindi Kunj.

फोटो स्टोरी: उन रोहिंग्या मुसलमानों की कहानी जिनके लिए म्यांमार अब जहन्नुम से भी बुरा है

शाम के पांच बजे हैं और सूरज ढलने को है। नुक्कड़ पर कुछ सफेद कुर्ते और टोपी में चाय पी रहे लोगों से हमने पूछा- म्यांमार से विस्थापित रोहिंग्या समुदाय के लोग इधर ही रहते हैं? उन्होंने जवाब में पूछा- बर्मा वाले?

Follow Prerna on YKA

7. The Real Victims Of The Naxal-Police Conflict In Chhattisgarh

When you hear ‘Chhattisgarh’, the first images that come to our minds is Naxalism, insurgency, violence. In the last decade, over 200 officers from different security forces have been killed. Much like Kashmir, the state’s identity has been limited to violence and militant activities, and most of the narratives appearing on mainstream media reinforce it.

What we hardly ever hear about, is the rich mineral land, the dense jungles, and more importantly, the people who call it their home. The tribals in Chhattisgarh, whose livelihoods depend entirely on this land and its minerals, are at the mercy of the insurgents and security personnel.

After having spent 3 months in the state among locals, Saurabh Raj brings to you the real picture. His detailed on-ground report reveals how the lives of Chhattisgarh’s tribes are the worst affected, irrespective of who is firing the shots.

4 महीने छत्तीसगढ़ में रहकर मैंने जाना, गोली नक्सलियों की हो या सरकार की मरता आदिवासी ही है

‘छत्तीसगढ़’ ये शब्द सुनते ही आपके ज़हन में सबसे पहले क्या आता है? जल, जंगल और ज़मीन, आदिवासी, स्मार्ट सिटी या नक्सली हिंसा और बस्तर में फैला आतंक?

Follow Saurabh on YKA

8. Fighting Sexism At Banaras Hindu University

On September 21, a female student from BHU was allegedly sexually assaulted by two men near the Bharat Kala Bhawan crossing on campus. The student managed to flee and lost consciousness near the international hostel. Once the incident was reported to the warden, she responded to the request asking students why it was necessary at all to venture out of the hostel at night.

The administration’s reluctance to take action has sparked a protest that has garnered support from students across the country. The students at BHU have been lathicharged by the police, some even forced out of hostels, but they continue to fight for their right to safety on campus.

Prashant Pratyush shares his thoughts on the resilience shown by these students, and others in the country.

BHU के रावणों को जलाने के लिए लंका पर डटी लड़कियां

देश के दो महान विश्वविद्यालय, JNU और BHU इस हफ्ते दोनों ही ख़बरों की सुर्खियों में हैं। JNU अपने परिसर में छात्राओं और महिलाओं के शोषण के मामले देखने वाली संस्था जीएस-कैश के जगह नई थोपी गई संस्था आईसीसी को लेकर बनी अनिश्चतता के लिए खबरों में है। वहीं BHU

Follow Prashant on YKA

9. The Marginalised Who Are Constantly Ignored By The Prime Minister

Prime Minister Modi’s social media influence and following continues to grow by the minute. As the largest followed head of state on Twitter, calling him a pioneer of social media use is an understatement.

Equally interesting are the people he follows back. According to a report on The Wire, he follows a number of BJP fans, karyakartas and local leaders who in turn follow a number of famous adult entertainment stars. That’s not the worrying bit. What’s worrying are the number of people who only engage in online trolling and harassment, issuing rape and death threats at the drop of the hat.

How does that reflect on the Prime Minister?

If his Twitter feed is filled with trolling and the occasional porn star, do real issues from far off corners of the country ever reach him?

In an open letter addressed to PM Modi, Dheeraj Mishra asks him to perhaps follow common citizens who are marginalised the most, especially women and Dalits.

पीएम सर काश आप करोड़ों महिलाओं, दलितों या किसानों में से किसी को फॉलो करते

माननीय प्रधानमंत्री नरेंद्र मोदी पत्रकार गौरी लंकेश जी की निर्मम हत्या के बाद निखिल दधीच नाम के एक शख्स नें ट्विटर पर उन्हें कुतिया कहा और उनका समर्थन करने वालों को पिल्ला कहा। पता चला कि आप इस शख्स को ट्विटर पर फॉलो करते हैं। मुझे नहीं पता कि किसी

Follow Dheeraj on YKA

10. The Destruction Of Science And Research In India

In his Independence Day speech this year, PM Modi has laid emphasis on his vision of a ‘new India by 2022’. In addition to that is his initiatives of Make In India and Digital India. At the heart of all these mottos, has to be an advancement in research, science and technology.

Yet, hardly any efforts are put to actually encourage these avenues. India currently spends only 0.8% of its GDP on research.

In his detailed report, Vivek Kumar reveals the crumbling state of research in India and how important funds are being directed towards research hoping to find how cow urine can cure cancer.

विज्ञान संस्थाओं के फंड कम करके गौमूत्र पर शोध क्यों कर रही है सरकार

विगत तीन वर्षों में बहुत सारे क्षेत्र हैं जिसमें होने वाले सरकारी खर्चों में कटौती की गई है, एक-एक करके सरकारी उपक्रमों को निजी हाथो में सौंपा जा रहा है। वैज्ञानिक शोध व अनुसंधान का क्षेत्र भी इससे अछूता नहीं है। इस वर्ष 15 अगस्त को दिए गए अपने भाषण

Follow Vivek on YKA

Every month, thousands of users share stories on issues that matter to them on Youth Ki Awaaz. If there are stories you want to share, issues you want to talk about, log in and directly publish now!