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Meet 7 Young Indian Changemakers Who’re Challenging The Way We See The World

Ideas are a curious thing. When triggered, they have the power to transform the entire world.

Nikheel Aphale

Here is a platform to make great ideas accessible! A beautiful journey and an opportunity to be enthralled by the words and wisdom of those who nurture their ideas fondly, like:

NIKHEEL APHALE

Nikheel Aphale is passionate about calligraphy and letterforms, especially the Devanagari script. He has designed many book covers for leading publishers from India using calligraphy and handwriting. His calligraphy practice primarily emphasizes on the abstraction of letterforms, which further gets translated into different mediums, be it paintings, logos or products. Nikheel religiously collects matchboxes, vintage stuff, plain-notebooks. For him, calligraphy is a purely spiritual experience. The way his pen, inks, paper and hand interact – is indeed a play of action and reaction!

KARAN VAISH

Karan Vaish

Hardly 3 years out of college, Karan Vaish is the lead systems engineer for the TeamIndus Lunar Rover – ECA. His forte, mechanical engineering, and experiences in designing quite a few unmanned rover systems throughout professional, university and school years, landed him with the opportunity to design an actual rover fit for space flight back in 2013. Aided by veterans from the Indian Space Research Organization and backed by a team of dozen engineers, he is the youngest engineer to build a rover ready for space flight, due launch in the first quarter of 2018. His objective – ensuring that TeamIndus’s lunar rover, ECA, traverses at least 500 meters of the lunar surface and sends back High Definition imagery data.

RESHMA VALLIAPPAN

Reshma Valliappan is the protagonist of the PSTB documentary: “A Drop of Sunshine”, which is based on her true story of recovery and living with schizophrenia without medications. Being compared to John Nash as ‘A Beautiful Mind, yet again’, she is an artist with a beat of her own. Her book, an autobiographical account of her life before being diagnosed with schizophrenia, is “Fallen, Standing: My Life as a Schizophrenic”. The book is a first of its kind on schizophrenia, shedding light on the issues of stigma, human rights, legal rights and what it means to live without medications. Today, Reshma is an artist-activist for a number of issues related to mental health, disability, sexuality and human rights, and is the co-founder of The Red Door.

Reshma Valiappan

REEMA AHMED

Reema Ahmad, Co-founder of Candidly, works towards building an understanding of prevalent attitudes on gender and sexuality as they manifest in media and through culture. In the process, she hopes to raise awareness and question existing stereotypes, without creating an atmosphere of fear, guilt or shame – feelings that are often associated with sexuality, gender and abuse. Reema believes that silence fuels misconception and stereotypes, and the only way forward, is candidly.

Reema Ahmed

ABHISHEK BHATIA (CURTAIN BLUE)

A vocalist of a Delhi based band, The Circus, Abhishek Bhatia has also been producing his own electronic music and has finally decided to take it live in the Curtain Blue avatar. Fusing haunting vocal melodies with skillfully produced, textural percussive elements, he aims to create a textural blend which can uniquely be called his own. The hunt for his own unique sound has seen Abhishek strike a brave venture into a weird, wonderful and unchartered territory of modern electronica where no Indian producer has really succeeded. He has been hailed to fall somewhere between Apparat and Jon Hopkins, 2 parts soundtrack-y and melancholic and 2 parts fine, detailed production. Over the last couple of years, he has performed at a number of festivals in India and abroad, including The Great Escape Festival at Brighton, UK and Bacardi NH7 Weekender.

Curtain Blue AKA Abhishek Bhatia

ZORIAN CROSS

Faculty at Films and Theatre Personality, and a multi-award- winning actor and playwright, Zorian Cross has starred in over thirty productions, four short-films, written over a dozen scripts and directed ten plays – all in a short span of 7 years. His first original play, “The Coming Out”, not only became a local sensation at the 2011 Short and Sweet Delhi Theatre Festival but also won him the Best New Talent Award for acting and writing.With his art stemming from his supreme confidence in his sexuality and the pain of his past, Zorian Cross plans to revolutionize the Delhi theatre scene.

Zorian Cross

AMITABH MALL

Amitabh Mall, Partner & Director at the Boston Consulting Group has, for a long time, been observing the best leaders of the world in action, and understands the heart of what truly matters for them. Being an avid reader, Amitabh has been studying writers for a long time and has been a participant in the Iowa Summer Writer’s Festival where he noted a writer’s approach to life. Look forward to knowing more about the six things that business leaders can learn from writers as he reveals some great insights in his talk!

Amitabh Mall

Listen to all of them and many more exclusively at the second edition of TEDxShivNadarUniversity on 12th November 2017. For more details check out our website- tedxshivnadaruniversity.com

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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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