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4 Extraordinary Changemakers You Must Listen To At ‘Kaizen’, IIT Delhi This Week

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Bringing about change in the world is a desire of many, but often remains an unfulfilled one, for most of us are scared of facing the struggles and vagaries of time. But change needs to happen and will happen in good time.

As students living in a complex society wherein, transgressions happen aplenty, it sometimes troubles us, and it’s hard to imagine a world where the situation indeed does get better. At “Kaizen”, we try and create a space where inspiring dialogue enriches, helps and equips us to cope better in the difficult times we live in.

For the last two years, students associated with the National Service Scheme at IIT Delhi have been organising the social extravaganza, “Kaizen”. With the involvement of 40+ student bodies and NGOs, the event has been a focal point for discussion and interaction between multiple social bodies.

The inaugural event at “Kaizen” 2018 – “Sangहर्ष” (sangharsh/struggle) focuses on bringing to the forefront, the struggles of extraordinary individuals working towards a noble cause, and how in the process they brought about collective happiness and prosperity.

Jai Prakash Dabral

The President of the Himalayan Chipko Foundation, JP Dabral, is a social entrepreneur and a social activist. He has led a decade-long crusade against Garhwal’s timber mafia, and saved thousands of trees in Uttarakhand. He began studying law at 55 to fight Garhwal’s timber mafia in court. With the forest cover in Uttarakhand depleting fast, his activism assumes a key role in conserving what remains. The struggle didn’t just exert him physically and mentally but affected his personal life too. He had to flee from home when no action was taken on complaints that the timber mafia was threatening his life. His emotional connection with the cause, however, remains. He is currently pursuing more than 11 cases in the Supreme Court against the timber mafia in Garhwal.

He has been honoured by the Ashoka Fellowship, Real Heroes Award by CNN IBN, International Green Apple Award by Green Organization, UK and the India Awaken Award by Hindustan Times.

He aims to conserve flora and fauna of the Himalayas for future generations by restricting the thoughtless plunder of natural resources by the criminal-bureaucratic-politician-judiciary nexus. His major interventions have come in the form of policy changes in developmental projects to make it more environment-friendly. As one of the few environmentalists in India, he has time and again emphasised that electricity, water and roads are a fundamental right of every citizen of the country.

Srijan Pal Singh

Srijan Pal Singh is an author, public speaker and social entrepreneur. He is the CEO and co-founder of Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Centre, a non-profit organisation working on integrated missions across multiple dimensions to continue on the vision and works of Dr APJ Abdul Kalam. There are over 150 branches of the Kalam Centre across the nation and abroad, working on how youth can transform the world around them.

He was appointed as an Officer on Special Duty and Advisor for Policy and Technology to the 11th President of India, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, where he worked as a close aide on various consulting works. He has co-authored three books with Dr APJ Abdul Kalam – Target 3 Billion, Advantage India and Reignited. Padma Bhushan Shri Anna Hazare recently launched his latest book, The Black Tiger – about defeating India’s corrupted and realising Dr Kalam’s dream of a corruption free India. Two of his books, Reignited (2015) and What Can I Give (2016) were nominated in the Top 5 books of the year at the Raymond Crossword Book Awards.

Pritika Mehta

Pritika Mehta has challenged multiple stereotypes in her life. She is a mathematician, data scientist and social experimenter. She has done her Bachelor’s in Computer Science from India and then followed up with a Master’s in Artificial Intelligence from State University of New York, Buffalo. She sits on the advisory board of Queen Elizabeth’s Young Leaders and is mentoring young Commonwealth leaders on AI and technology innovation.

Pritika has also worked with three startups and multinational companies like Bank of America, Tripadvisor, etc. She is leading Kiddycoders, an initiative to teach young kids about coding and Artificial Intelligence. Pritika was a mentor at ‘Girls Who Code’ to support and increase the number of women in computer science. She was also selected as a ‘City Awake Delegate’ of Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce. She is a TEDx speaker and gave her talk at TEDxWilmington, USA and is also a licensee for TEDxChandigarh.

Simarpreet Singh

Simarpreet Singh is an emerging face in the world as an edutainer. Passionate about education, entertainment, technology, media, marketing and anything that requires original thinking, he is the founder of the media-tech venture Mindbatteries. He has spent a lot of time in social experimentation, cognitive surplus utilisation and designing social campaigns, and has designed and conducted more than 300 knowledge events like quizzes, spell bees, trainings, conferences, etc. wherein each quiz series has engaged more than a million students in India. He has received accolades from Economic Times, world’s second-largest business newspaper, as a business quizmaster.

Selected by World Economic Forum as a Global Shaper. He has also represented India at World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Headquarters in Geneva, been invited to WEF’s Global Shaper Conferences – Shape North America and Shape China. He was chosen to represent India in ‘Aman ki Asha’ peace debates with Pakistan. And that’s not all, he was elected as Curator (Chair) of WEF Global Shapers Hub in Chandigarh, India and chosen by TEDx to curate the first ever TEDxChandigarh.

Witness the stories of these extraordinary change makers at “Sangharsh” on February 24, 2018. The event is from 09:15 AM to 12:00 PM, at LH121, in KAIZEN 2018, IIT Delhi.

This, and many more such motivational and inspiring events are awaiting you, at “Kaizen” 2018, organised by NSS IIT Delhi, held on February 24 and 25, 2018, in the premises of IIT Delhi. Experience multitudes of NGOs and social startups discussing a plethora of ideas and presenting their work aimed towards building our nation as a better place to live.

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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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