Hindutva’s Poisoned Fruit And The World Hindu Congress

In early September 2018, I spent four days in the Chicago, Illinois region to protest the World Hindu Congress (WHC). Here’s why.

On September 6, I participated in a panel at the University of Chicago which formed to “Stop Hindu Fascism.” On September 7, I was honoured to be invited to join a delegation which visited U.S. Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi’s office to register protest against his participation in the Congress. From September 8th to 9th, I joined hundreds of South Asians in demonstrations outside the conference.

pieter friedrich
Friedrich speaking outside World Hindu Congress

On the final day, speaking at the protest, I said, “I am here today to raise my voice in resistance against the World Hindu Congress 2018 in Chicago. I am not here today to oppose Hinduism. I am not anti-Hindu. I love Hindus, and I am here today because I love Hindus.” I explained that the WHC was organised by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and featured as its keynote the Supreme Leader of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). The previous day, as I spoke, I described the RSS as “the neck that turns the head” of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

If the WHC were merely a benign religious event, I would not have spent even a passing moment thinking about it, let alone protesting it.

However, to quote Representative Tulsi Gabbard — the first Hindu elected to U.S. Congress — it was a “partisan Indian political event.” Neither was the WHC merely a benign political event. It was, rather, a platform for modern India’s most extreme sociopolitical figures and organisations to propagate their supremacist ideology, Hindutva, which is a form of religious nationalism.

It has been said that, as a citizen of a country, one should never accept the premise of “my nation, right or wrong.” Such an attitude has been compared to saying, “my mother, drunk or sober.” In other words, unconditional support for every action of a loved one is disastrous. Consider, for instance, whether loyal and patriotic German citizens, during the rise of Hitler, should have embraced an attitude of “my nation can do no wrong.”

It has also been said that dissent is the highest form of patriotism. True patriots love their country so much that they’re willing to raise their voices — even when it’s unpopular or dangerous — when their country goes in the wrong direction. A related concept is a proverb, “The wounds of a friend are more trustworthy than the kisses of an enemy.” In other words, true friends offer insight, help us to recognise blind spots in our lives, and give good guidance about where we may be making mistakes.

On that note, the Republic of India is considered to be a good friend and close ally of the United States of America. If India and America are truly friends, then the responsibility of America — of its government as well as of its citizens — is to talk with India about human rights. Not trade. Not joint military exercises. Human rights. And, because of the position of influence held by the RSS and the VHP within the BJP regime, it is necessary to speak about both of them when one speaks about human rights.

So, speaking as a friend of India, I want to discuss how the WHC in Chicago brought to the surface some of the most troubling, persistent, and unresolved issues in modern Indian socio-politics. Notably, the organisers of and keynote speakers at the WHC are closely linked to India’s ruling BJP, its supremacist ideology, and past and present atrocities committed under the banner of that ideology.

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (or VHP) organised the conference. Keynote speakers included Mohan Bhagwat and Dattatreya Hosabale of the RSS. The U.S. Government, in its CIA World Factbook, listed both entities as “political pressure groups,” specifically labelling the VHP as a “militant religious organisation” and the RSS as a “nationalist organisation.”

The VHP and RSS are the two most prominent groups belonging to the religious nationalist “Sangh Parivar” (Family of Organizations). According to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), “Sangh Parivar entities aggressively press for governmental policies to promote a Hindu nationalist agenda, and adhere in varying degrees to an ideology of Hindutva, which holds non-Hindus as foreign to India.” Amnesty International corroborates this assessment, reporting, “Hindutva is the political ideology of an exclusively Hindu nation. This ideology has been advanced with increasing vigour… by organisations of the Sangh Parivar.”

Furthermore, the founder of WHC, Swami Vigyananand, has blatantly endorsed the goal of making India “an exclusively Hindu nation,” declaring, “We shall set up in Bharat a Hindu State, which will be our nation-state.”

To understand the call for a Hindu State and the underlying ideology of Hindutva, how it is connected to the RSS, VHP, and BJP, and the consequences it has had for the people of South Asia, we need to return to the beginning.

Hindutva: Savarkar and Golwalkar

The term “Hindutva” was coined in 1923 by VD Savarkar, who developed the concept into a formal ideology. The ideology was institutionalised in 1925 with the founding of the RSS. The second, longest-serving, and most influential “Sarsanghchalak” (Supreme Leader) of the RSS was M.S. Golwalkar — the RSS refers to him as “Guruji” (respected teacher). Pictures of both men are routinely displayed on stage at Sangh Parivar events.

What did these two men teach?

The core of V.D. Savarkar’s ideology was that the Indian subcontinent is, always has been, and must remain a nation of Hindus and that India should, consequently, be a “Hindu State.”

“We Hindus must have a country of our own,” wrote Savarkar. “Truly Hindus are and cannot but be the mainstay of our Indian State.” He insisted that anyone living in India is, de facto, a Hindu — that is, that being Indian meant being Hindu. He wrote, “If you call it an Indian Nation it is merely an English synonym for the Hindu nation to us Hindus, Hindusthan and India mean the same thing. We are Indians because we are Hindus and vice versa.” Additionally, he identified being Hindu as the essence of true patriotism. Speaking of Hindus, he stated, “Indian Patriotism to them was but a synonym of Hindu Patriotism.”

Moreover, Savarkar argued that non-Hindus have no place in the country, writing: “India must be a Hindu land, reserved for the Hindus.” Making no apologies for the communalism of his ideology, he instead embraced and celebrated it, declaring, “We are communalists par excellence and glory in being the most devoted Hindu communalists which to us means being the truest and the most equitable Indian Nationalists!” In his goal to achieve a homogenous, monocultural, and communal polity, he declared, “Our politics henceforth will be purely Hindu politics fashioned and tested in Hindu terms only, in such wise as will help the consolidation, freedom, and life-growth of our Hindu Nation.”

He insisted, therefore, that Hindus should vote only for Hindus, but not for the “race traitor” sort of Hindu. As he wrote, “Make it quite clear that you as Hindus are not going to vote for any such seasonal Hindu but only for a Hindu who is born, and bred, and means to continue to be true to his Hindu race.” This was, as he freely admitted, religious nationalism. He urged citizens to “vote only for a confirmed and merited Hindu Nationalist.” It was, he argued, every Hindu’s “easy duty for his race” to “vote for a Hindu Nationalist.” To do otherwise, he warned, was “to commit cultural and political and racial suicide.”

Because he openly endorsed communalism, religious nationalism, and establishment of a Hindu nation for Hindu people, Savarkar believed any other communities which call for equal rights within the same territory are a threat to his concept of independent India. Thus, as Savarkar put pen to paper, he took aim, first and foremost, against the Indian subcontinent’s largest religious minority.

“The Mohammedans are likely to prove dangerous to our Hindu Nation,” he wrote. He argued they are incapable of being loyal or patriotic citizens, saying, “The Moslems remained Moslems first, Moslems last, and Indians never.” Suggesting that neither Muslims nor Christians can be integrated into Indian society because “their love is divided,” he asserted, “They must, to a man, set their Holy-land above their Fatherland in their love and allegiance.” Both communities are foreigners, he argued, writing, “Their names and their outlook smack of foreign origin.”

Focusing on Muslims, Savarkar offered recommendations for how the so-called “Hindu Race” ought to treat the Muslim population. “So far as the Moslem minority is concerned, I have already dealt with it at length,” he wrote. “In short, we must watch it in all its actions with the greatest distrust possible.”

Proposing a “final solution” for the alleged “Muslim problem,” he contrasted them with Germany’s Jewish community, arguing, “The Indian Muslims are on the whole more inclined to identify themselves and their interest with Muslims outside India than Hindus who live next door, like the Jews in Germany.” Finally, having built up Islam in India as a sinister threat, he warned, “If we Hindus in India grow stronger, in time these Muslims… will have to play the part of German-Jews.”

Savarkar’s ideology of Hindutva didn’t just bear a passing resemblance to the supremacist Aryanism propagated by the Nazis. Identifying India as an “Aryan nation,” he drew direct parallels between his proposed Hindu nation and the Nazi regime. In March 1939, days before the Nazis occupied Czechoslovakia and months before they sparked the Second World War by invading Poland, Savarkar praised Hitler’s embrace of Aryanism, declaring,

“Germany’s solemn idea of the revival of the Aryan culture, the glorification of the Swastika, her patronage of Vedic learning, and the ardent championship of the tradition of Indo-Germanic civilisation are welcomed by the religious and sensible Hindus of India with a jubilant hope…. I think that Germany’s crusade against the enemies of Aryan culture will bring all the Aryan nations of the world to their senses and awaken the Indian Hindus for the restoration of their lost glory.”

That is Savarkar, who coined the term “Hindutva” in 1923. Perhaps nothing would have come of it if he had been merely a random blowhard. Many people in many generations have written and propagated virulent doctrines of supremacy. It doesn’t always take root. In this case, however, the ideology of Hindutva was institutionalized in the form of the RSS, which flourished and expanded into a group that, today, virtually controls the government of India.

The RSS was founded in 1925 as a uniformed, paramilitary group. It grew throughout the 1930s with direct inspiration from the youth organisations of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany — the blackshirts and brownshirts, respectively. It adopted its distinctive uniform: white shirt and khaki shorts (later replaced by brown trousers). It adopted a similar fascist salute. Today, it has an estimated 6 million members, including the Prime Minister of India.

MS Golwalkar, who served as Supreme Leader of the RSS from 1940 to 1973, also co-founded the VHP in 1964. His two books refined Hindutva and provided an ideological basis for its institutionalisation.

In 2006, the RSS officially disowned Golwalkar’s first book — We or Our Nationhood Defined — but affirmed that his second book — Bunch of Thoughts — is central to RSS ideology. Indian attorney A.G. Noorani suggests that disowning the first book was merely an attempt at obfuscation, arguing, “So brutally candid is We or Our Nationhood Defined that a desperate attempt was made by the RSS to distance itself from it.” Because both of these books complement each other and reflect virtually identical ideology, I have interwoven quotations from them in illustrating what he thought, taught, and practised.

Like Savarkar, Golwalkar claimed that the only true members of the Indian nation are those who belong to “the Hindu Race with its Hindu Religion, Hindu Culture, and Hindu Language.” He insisted, “We are all born as Hindus.” No one but Hindus hold a birthright to India, he said, stating, “Only the Hindu has been living here as the child of this soil.” He believed that non-Hindus are “foreign” to India and must be subsumed by the “Hindu race,” declaring,

“The foreign races in Hindustan must either adopt the Hindu culture and language, must learn to respect and hold in reverence Hindu religion, must entertain no idea but those of the glorification of the Hindu race and culture, i.e., of the Hindu nation and, must lose their separate existence to merge in the Hindu race, or may stay in the country, wholly subordinated to the Hindu Nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less any preferential treatment — not even citizen’s rights. There is, at least should be, no other course for them to adopt.”

Speaking about Muslims, he said that keeping Islamic names was a sign of having “mentally merged themselves with the aggressors.” Thus, he claimed that converting to Islam might even make a person a traitor to the nation. “It is not merely a case of change of faith, but a change even in national identity,” he wrote. “What else is it, if not treason, to join the camp of the enemy leaving their mother-nation in the lurch?” Converting from Hinduism to any other faith was “dangerous to the security of the nation and the country” because, he argued, “Conversion of Hindus into other religions is nothing but making them succumb to divided loyalty in place of having undivided and absolute loyalty to the nation.”

Specifically identifying both Christians and Muslims as members of the so-called “foreign races,” he stated, “Muslims and Christians here should give up their present foreign mental complexion and merge in the common stream of our national life.” Describing communities of Indian Christians and Muslims as victims of “foreign domination,” he said, “It is our duty to call these our forlorn brothers, suffering under religious slavery for centuries, back to their ancestral home.” Nor should one stop at having “achieved unity of Hindus, Muslims, Christians, and all others on the political and economic plane” but rather “fuse them all in the Hindu way of life.”

Moreover, he favourably compared the racial goals of the RSS to those of the Nazis, writing, “The ancient Race-spirit, which prompted the Germanic tribes to over-run the whole of Europe, has re-risen in modern Germany…. Even so with us: our Race-spirit has once again roused itself.” He claimed that “the Semitic concept of religion bred intolerance” and said, “the first Semitic religion was Judaism — an intolerant faith.” Praising the Nazi policy towards the Jews, he wrote,

“To keep up the purity of the race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic races — the Jews. Race pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how nearly impossible it is for races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindustan to learn and profit by.”

Comparing ancient Germany to Nazi Germany, he used it as an illustration for how every nation is supposedly bound, from aeon to aeon, by the “common aspirations” of a single race. It is, therefore, necessary to welcome the awakening of “Race Consciousness.” Because of this, he believed, each race “must tread the road into which its past traditional way has led it” — doing otherwise would rip apart the fabric of society and endanger its life.

His ultimate goal was the end of separate identities, differences, individualities, distinctions, and variances. Perceiving diversities as inimical to a healthy nation, he instead advocated the uniformity of all society. His method for achieving this was to “mould” men into a disciplined collective “wherein each one feels that he has a higher duty to the nation and that his personal and family wants can wait.”

He considered concerns about the nature of government — democratic or not — as irrelevant. “We did not bother much about the external form of the government but concentrated upon the moulding of man as the chief guiding factor in all our systems,” he said. National health was not obtained by instituting peaceful, democratic systems but rather incorporating every individual with the nation into a uniform entity. An entity for preserving “ideal Hindu Manhood.” Detailing his vision required “untiring, silent endeavour” over a great many years, he proclaimed,

“The ultimate vision of our work, which has been the living inspiration for all our organisational efforts, is a perfectly organised state of our society wherein each has been moulded into a model of ideal Hindu manhood and made into a living limb of the corporate personality of a society.”

The Fruit of Hindutva: Reports by International Bodies

So what is the fruit produced by the Hindutva tree? From the seeds sown by Savarkar, what harvest has been reaped? After Golwalkar’s pivotal leadership of the RSS and founding of the VHP, did these outfits whither or flourish? Having introduced the ideological basis, what is the present status? Where has the Hindutva worldview guided India?

Over the past 20 years, various governmental and non-governmental organisations have repeatedly warned that Sangh Parivar entities perpetrate acts of violence against India’s religious minorities. Much could be added to various terrorist acts which are linked to Sangh groups. Similarly, a great deal could be said about legislation passed to implement the Hindutva agenda. Even more could be said about routine, daily acts of violence. Instead, let’s focus for the moment only on the reports by objective, third-party governmental and non-governmental bodies.

In 1997, the United Nations reported on “the existence of Hindu extremism, encountered in varying degrees within ultra-nationalist political parties or parties attracted by ultra-nationalism (RSS, VHP and BJP).” Furthermore, the UN warned that “mention must… be made of the activities of the extremist Hindu parties, which are attempting to undermine the communal and religious harmony which exists in India by the political exploitation of religion.”

In 1999, Amnesty International reported, “Violence against religious minorities, mainly Christians, is escalating throughout India…. Attacks have been carried out directly by, or in connivance with, right-wing Hindu groups with links to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, including the VHP.” Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch reported, “Organizations most responsible for violence against Christians are the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), the Bajrang Dal, and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.”

Furthermore, in 1999, Human Rights Watch described the VHP’s involvement in violence against Muslims and their religious sites:

“The most publicised of the VHP’s activities was its campaign to build a temple to the Hindu god Ram at the site of the Babri Masjid, a mosque in the city of Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh…. On December 6, 1992, the mosque was demolished by members of the VHP, the Bajrang Dal, and RSS-trained cadres. The police did not intervene. The incident sparked violence around the country in which thousands were killed.”

In 2002, Muslims in Gujarat suffered a pogrom which was allegedly state-sponsored — an allegation affirmed by VHP and BJP members who participated in the violence. The U.S. State Department reported, “Mobs in Gujarat… incited and organised by members of the Sangh Parivar, destroyed Muslim businesses and raped Muslim women. The violence resulted in an estimated 2,000 deaths, a majority of them Muslims.”

Corroborating that report, then the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) explained, “International human rights groups have named the VHP, RSS, BJP, and Bajrang Dal as perpetrators of the violence in Gujarat, as well as other acts of violence against non-Hindus.”

Among those international human rights groups were Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. Amnesty reported, “Sangh Parivar members, including BJP, VHP, and Bajrang Dal members were named [by victims and eyewitnesses] as instigators or participants of attacks on the Muslim minority.” Human Rights Watch reported, “The groups most directly responsible for violence against Muslims in Gujarat include the VHP, the Bajrang Dal, the ruling BJP, and the umbrella organisation RSS.”

In 2005, the U.S. State Department described the RSS and VHP as “extremist” groups, stating, “Members of the BJP, the RSS, and other affiliated organisations (collectively known as the Sangh Parivar) have been implicated in incidents of violence and discrimination against Christians and Muslims.”

In 2007, U.S. Ambassador to India David Mulford warned that the Indian government cannot control “fundamentalist organisations such as the RSS and the VHP” and noted that “the traditional muscle power of the BJP has always been the RSS.” Also in 2007, Human Rights Watch warned, “Right-wing Hindu organisations such as the VHP and the Bajrang Dal have been promoting anti-Christian propaganda in Orissa [Odisha].”

In 2008, Christians in Odisha suffered a pogrom which — as in the case of Gujarat — was allegedly state-sponsored (or at least involved organisation by elected officials). The USCIRF reported,

“At least 40 individuals were killed, although some Christian groups report more; thousands of church properties and homes were destroyed; at least 20,000 fled their homes to government-run relief camps; and approximately 40,000 were driven into hiding in jungles, the majority of whom were Christian…. In March 2009, the BJP nominated one of the main individuals accused in the anti-Christian violence for an assembly seat in the general elections. Despite remaining imprisoned for the duration of the elections, he won the seat. Also in March 2009, Orissa’s ruling party, the Biju Janata Dal (BJD), ended its 11-year coalition with the BJP, a decision fueled in part by the BJD’s repudiation of the BJP’s Hindu nationalist agenda, and the alleged support of some state BJP officials for the VHP, the Sangh Parivar entity implicated in riots.”

Also in 2008, Amnesty reported on “renewed attacks by supporters of Hindu nationalist organisations, including VHP and Bajrang Dal, against the Christian minorities and their places of worship in Kandhamal district in Orissa.”

In 2014, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi was elected as Prime Minister of India. Speaking in 2013, Modi declared, “My identity is of a Hindutvawadi.” In 2015, Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh — who is in charge of all internal security for the country — declared, “I want to clarify to everyone that I am an RSS swayamsevak [member] and the Prime Minister is also an RSS swayamsevak [member].” In 2016, The Hindustan Times reported that “more than a third of the 66 members in the council of ministers… had an RSS background.”

In 2017, BJP President Amit Shah attended a “crucial coordination meeting with various Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh outfits” before working with Modi to expand the council of ministers. In May 2018,  The Scroll reported, “Bharatiya Janata Party leaders, including party President Amit Shah, and six cabinet ministers met the leadership of the RSS… to discuss government programmes and policies.” In June 2018,  The Asian Age reported, “Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a crucial meeting with the RSS and BJP brass, which also included BJP president Amit Shah and senior Cabinet ministers, to discuss key electoral issues.”

Meanwhile, the VHP and RSS continue to be implicated in violence against India’s minorities.

In 2018, for instance, Human Rights Watch reported: “An affiliate organisation of the BJP, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, announced plans to recruit 5,000 ‘religious soldiers’ to ‘control cow smuggling and love jihad.’ So-called love jihad, according to Hindu groups, is a conspiracy among Muslim men to marry Hindu women and convert them to Islam.” Summarizing the general situation, also in 2018, the USCIRF reported:

“Conditions for religious minorities have deteriorated over the last decade due to a multifaceted campaign by Hindu nationalist groups like Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh… and Vishwa Hindu Parishad to alienate non-Hindus or lower-caste Hindus. The victims of this campaign include Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists… as well as Dalit[s] …. These groups face challenges ranging from acts of violence or intimidation to the loss of political power, to increasing feelings of disenfranchisement and ‘otherness.’”

Conclusion

With the BJP in power, and the RSS and its affiliates extending ideological influence while their foot-soldiers perpetrate acts of violence, the future looks bleak for Indian minorities.

After Charlottesville violence in Virginia seized the attention of the nation, many Americans were compelled to recognise that there are still deeply troubling issues with which we have not fully grappled. However, although the organisers were emboldened, resistance against them and their ideology of white nationalism put them on notice that ideologies of supremacy and actions targeting minorities will not be tolerated. In the USA, the right thing to do is and always will be to stand up and speak out against the KKK.

The RSS is India’s version of the KKK — except instead of hoods they wear khakis (now brown pants), and instead of operating in secret they openly parade through villages, towns, and cities in columns. The agenda of Hindu supremacy is practically indistinguishable from white nationalism. The only real difference is that Hindutva preaches that Hindus instead of Whites should be at the top of the tower. Unfortunately, the RSS has gained far more ground in India than the KKK has in the United States. The KKK is a fringe, generally despised organisation while the RSS is the neck that turns the head of India’s BJP regime.

The World Hindu Congress was not a gathering to promote Hinduism but rather a conclave of the Sangh Parivar. It served as an attempt to internationalise Hindutva.

The main speakers at the World Hindu Congress openly endorsed the ideology of Hindutva. Various other speakers were embroiled in controversy. One called critics of the RSS “cockroaches,” employing genocidal rhetoric which was used in Rwanda to stage a genocide. The founder, Swami Viygananand, called for issuing of trishuls — a weapon used against Muslims in Gujarat and Christians in Odisha.

Posters at the event spoke about the ideology. One VHP poster featured Golwalkar’s picture. Another poster created by a VHP Executive Board Member warned that, because “normative theological and cultural practices are breaking down,” there are “emerging threats for Hindus” which are, foremost, “the Islamic takeover” and “the Christian takeover.” Membership booths invited people to enrol in the VHP as well as the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS), which is the international wing of the RSS.

Participating in the VHP-organized conference and speaking alongside RSS leaders — or alongside the leaders of the HSS — qualifies as aiding and abetting systemic violations of humanitarian values of inclusion, diversity, and tolerance. It is an endorsement of Savarkar and Golwalkar’s ideology of supremacism. It is undoubtedly anti-American, as it encourages violations of the foundational American values of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. More importantly, it is anti-human.

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In the past, he has also served as a Policy Advisor to Members of Parliament. In November of 2010, Mr. Shunmugasundaram was selected as a Fellow of the Legislative Fellows Program, organized by the U.S. State Department, in 2010. He also participated in the European Union Visitor Program in 2013 as well as the Australia-India Youth Dialogue in 2014. He was a part of Project Interchange Indian delegation to visit Israel & Palestine in 2017.

Mr. Shunmugasundaram works to advance the cause of responsible politics, participatory governance, and evidence-based public policy. He is a regular contributor to The Hindu, Times of India, Indian Express, Huffington Post and The Print.

वे मृत्यु दंड पाए हुए कैदियों के मानसिक स्वास्थ्य के मुद्दों पर प्रोजेक्ट 39 ए द्वारा किए जा रहे शोध का एक मुख्य सदस्य हैं। इसके भाग के रूप में, उन्होंने देशभर में मृत्यु दंड की सज़ा काट रहे कैदियों और उनके परिवारों के साथ साक्षात्कार करने के लिए यात्रा की है। वे देश के लॉ कॉलेजों में फैले एक कानूनी सहायता क्लिीनिक “परिचय” की भी कोर टीम की सदस्या हैं। यह मुहिम उन लोगों की कानूनी मदद करता है जो NRC की लिस्ट से हटा दिए गए हैं। वसुंधरा ने कॉलेज में क्लीयर और स्ट्रेट समुदाय के लोगों के गठबंधन की भी स्थापना की है, ताकि जेंडर और सेक्शुएलिटी से जुड़े तमाम महत्वपूर्ण मुद्दों पर बातचीत का माहौल तैयार हो सके।
एक कानून की छात्रा होने के नाते, वे मानती हैं कि वंचित लोगों को ध्यान में रखते हुए, समाज में प्रगतिशील परिवर्तन के लिए एक एजेंट के रूप में कानून का उपयोग करना एक कर्तव्य है।
इन्हें अपने Pet और पसंदीदा सेक्सोफोनिस्ट के बारे में बात करना बहुत पसंद है।

2011 बैच के आई.ए.एस. अफसर विशाख जी अय्यर वर्तमान में उत्तर प्रदेश के मुख्यमंत्री के विशेष सचिव हैं। इससे पहले वह यूपी के ही चित्रकूट में डिस्ट्रिक्ट मजिस्ट्रेट थे।
केरल के इडुक्की से निकलकर, विशाख पहले भदोही के ज़िला मजिस्ट्रेट के पद पर रहे फिर मेरठ और वाराणसी के मुख्य विकास अधिकारी के पद पर भी रहे।
एमजी यूनिवर्सिटी कॉलेज ऑफ इंजीनियरिंग, थोडुपुझा के भूतपूर्व छात्र रहने के साथ-साथ वह यूनिवर्सिटी ऑफ ऑक्सफोर्ड के फेलो भी रहे हैं। उन्होंने इलेक्ट्रॉनिक्स एंड कम्युनिकेशन इंजीनियरिंग में बीटेक और पब्लिक पॉलिसी में एमए किया है।
विशाख ने ज़िलाधिकारी चित्रकूट के रूप में अपने कार्यकाल के दौरान, सामुदायिक भागीदारी के साथ मंदाकिनी नदी को पुनर्जीवित करने में महत्वपूर्ण भूमिका निभाई थी। ‘नदी कायाकल्प’ कैटेगरी के तहत चित्रकूट ज़िले को नैशनल वॉटर अवॉर्ड्स 2019 भी प्राप्त हुआ।

एक सोशल एंटरप्रेन्योर होने के साथ-साथ अंशुल युवा मीडिया इंफ्लूएंसर भी हैं, जिन्होंने 17 वर्ष की उम्र में महत्वपूर्ण मुद्दों पर युवाओं को अपनी राय रखने के उद्देश्य से भारत के सबसे बड़े सोशल जस्टिस मीडिया प्लैटफॉर्म Youth Ki Awaaz की शुरुआत की थी। इन 11 सालों में राष्ट्रीय स्तर पर YKA की इम्पैक्ट स्टोरीज़ के ज़रिये सिटीज़न जर्नलिज़्म और जन-भागीदारी आंदोलन में अंशुल को व्यापक अनुभव प्राप्त हुआ है।
बतौर अशोका फेलो, INK फेलो, संयुक्त राष्ट्र के यंग इनोवेटर और फोर्ब्स 30 अंडर 30 में शामिल होकर अंशुल ने राजनीति, जेंडर और आर्ट से लेकर कल्चर तक कई प्रमुख संस्थाओं को ज़रूरी मुद्दों पर युवाओं को अपने साथ जोड़ने में मदद की है।
वह भारत के लिए यूएन वूमन के सिविल सोसाइटी सलाहकार समूह में भी हैं और इससे पहले झटका बोर्ड में काम कर चुके हैं।

बंगलौर की रहने वाली वैदही ने अपने करियर की शुरुआत एक आईटी इंडस्ट्री से की। एक सॉफ्टवेयर इंजीनियर के रूप में वैदही ने भारत और विदेश में लंबे समय तक काम किया। कुछ वक्त बाद इन्होंने अमेरिका से अपनी कॉर्पोरेट नौकरी छोड़ी और पहाड़ों में चली गई। उन्होंने लद्दाख में SECMOL नामक एक इको-स्कूल में बतौर शिक्षक वॉलंटियर किया।
उसके बाद उनका अगला पड़ाव था, वियतनाम, जहां उन्होंने फिर से स्वेच्छा से एक एनजीओ में अंग्रेज़ी शिक्षक के रूप में काम किया, जो कि सापा के पहाड़ों में आदिवासियों का पुनर्वास करता है। इसी दौरान थोड़ें समय के लिए उन्होंने ‘‘Humans Of Bombay’ और ‘We The People’ में लेखक के रूप में काम किया ।
वर्डप्ले ने अपनी पूरी यात्रा उनके साथ की है, और इस सफर में उन्होंने पाया कि ट्विटर उनके विचारों को प्रकाशित करने का एक सुविधाजनक माध्यम था। वैदेही के ट्विटर हैंडल में अब तक के 5000 से ज़्यादा लोग उन्हें फॉलो करते हैं, और लगभग 12.5K लोग वर्डप्ले को फॉलो करते हैं
इस प्रसिद्धि ने इन्हें उनकी वर्तमान जॉब से मिलाया जो कि डुंज़ो नाम का एप है जिसमें वे में सोशल मीडिया कंटेंट लीड के तौर पर कार्यरत हैं।

26 वर्षीय शिखा मंडी संथाल जनजाति से ताल्लुक रखती हैं, जो कि भारत में तीसरी सबसे बड़ी जनजाति है। वे भारत की पहली RJ हैं जो संथाली में पूरे कार्यक्रम की मेजबानी करती हैं। रेडियो मिलान पर उनका दो घंटे का शो जौहर झाड़ग्राम पिछले एक साल में व्यापक रूप से लोकप्रिय हो गया है। इसमें स्थानीय मुद्दों की एक विस्तृत श्रृंखला शामिल है, जिसमें आदिवासी संस्कृति, त्यौहार, और आदिवासियों के सामने आने वाली चुनौतियां शामिल हैं।

नेहा अरोड़ा प्लैनेट एबल्ड की संस्थापक हैं, जो विभिन्न विकलांग लोगों और बुजु़र्गों के लिए सुलभ और आरामदायक यात्रा प्रदान करती है। संयुक्त राष्ट्र के वियना में ज़ीरो प्रोजेक्ट सम्मेलन द्वारा प्लैनेट एबल्ड को सर्वश्रेष्ठ नवीन पहलों में से एक के रूप में सम्मानित किया गया। प्लैनेट एबल्ड को आउटलुक ट्रैवलर और वर्ल्ड ट्रैवल मार्केट, लंदन द्वारा इंडिया रिस्पॉन्सिबल टूरिज्म अवॉर्ड भी प्राप्त है। इसके साथ ही इस संस्था को ट्रैवल एंड ओवर ऑल विनर में बेस्ट इनोवेशन और एनसीपीईडीपी – एमफैसिस यूनिवर्सल डिज़ाइन अवार्ड से भी सम्मानित किया गया है।
इस वर्ष, प्लैनेट एबल्ड को भारत सरकार के पर्यटन मंत्रालय द्वारा सबसे अनोखे और नए पर्यटन उत्पाद के लिए राष्ट्रीय पुरस्कार से सम्मानित किया गया है। प्लैनेट एबल्ड ने भारत का एक प्रमुख सुलभ यात्रा गंतव्य के रूप में अंतरराष्ट्रीय स्तर पर प्रतिनिधित्व किया है। उनमें आईटीबी बर्लिन, थाईलैंड में वैश्विक सतत पर्यटन परिषद सम्मेलन और मालागा, स्पेन में पर्यटन और तकनीक की विविधता पर अंतरराष्ट्रीय काँग्रेस शामिल है।
नेहा एक ग्लोबल गुड फंड फेलो और इंडिया इंक्लूज़न फेलो हैं। ये नैसडैक एंटरप्रेन्योरियल सेंटर MMI प्रोग्राम की ग्रैजुएट भी हैं।
यात्राओं के माध्यम से विकलांग लोगों की समस्याओं और मुद्दों को मुख्यधारा में लाने के लिए नेहा कॉरपोरेट्स, विश्वविद्यालयों, इनक्यूबेटरों और विभिन्न मंचों में सेमिनार और कार्यशालाएं आयोजित करती हैं।

मोहम्मद शम्स आलम शेख एक अंतरराष्ट्रीय पैरा तैराक हैं। इन्होंने 2016 में गैटन्यू, क्यूबेक (कनाडा) में आयोजित हुए पैरा स्विमिंग चैंपियनशिप में 100 मीटर ब्रेस्टस्ट्रोक SB4 कैटेगरी में ब्रॉन्ज जीता था। इसके साथ ही इन्होंने 2018 में इंडोनेशिया के जकारता शहर में आयोजित एशियन पैरा गेम्स में भारत का प्रतिनिधित्व किया था।
शम्स वर्तमान में एक पैराप्लैजिक द्वारा सबसे लंबे समय तक खुले समुद्र में तैरने का विश्व रिकॉर्ड रखते हैं। उन्हें 2018 में बिहार खेल रत्न अवार्ड और ज्वेल ऑफ नेशन अवार्ड 2017 सहित कई सम्मान मिल चुके हैं।

मीर भारतीय प्रशासनिक सेवा (IAS) के 2011 बैच के अधिकारी हैं, जो केरल राज्य में सेवारत हैं। उन्हें अगस्त 2016 में कन्नूर के ज़िला कलेक्टर के रूप में तैनात किया गया था। भारत के पहले प्लास्टिक / डिस्पोज़ेबल-मुक्त ज़िले कन्नूर को यह उपाधि दिलाने में इनका मुख्य योगदान था।
इनके द्वारा शुरू फेक न्यूज़ को लेकर “सत्यमेव जयते” नाम की पहल की गई जो टीचर्स और स्टूडेंट्स को फेक न्यूज़ और गलत सूचनाओं की पहचान करने के लिए ट्रेन करती है।
इस कार्यक्रम को कन्नूर में 200 से अधिक स्कूलों में लागू किया गया था, जिसमें 80,000 से अधिक बच्चे शामिल थे और यह देश में अपनी तरह का पहला स्कूल था। उनका काम भारतीय मीडिया से लेकर ब्रिटेन, चीन और जापान में अंतरराष्ट्रीय नेटवर्क द्वारा व्यापक रूप से कवर किया गया था।
उनके नेतृत्व में, कन्नूर को पांच ई-गवर्नेंस अवॉर्ड मिले, जिनमें जनवरी 2019 में केरल के मुख्यमंत्री का ज़िला सर्वश्रेष्ठ ई-गवर्नेंस ज़िलों में शामिल था।
उन्होंने बड़ी परियोजनाओं का नेतृत्व किया है, जिन्होंने नागरिकों के लिए मूल्य और सुविधा बनाने पर ध्यान केंद्रित किया है। समाज के महत्वपूर्ण मुद्दों पर सरकार से लेकर निजी क्षेत्र और समाज के सदस्यों को एक साथ लाने का प्रयास उनके काम करने की मुख्य प्रेरणा शक्ति रही है।
कन्नूर कलेक्टर के रूप में तीन साल के सफल कार्यकाल के बाद, उन्होंने हाल ही में केरल राज्य सुचितवा मिशन के निदेशक के रूप में कार्यभार संभाला है, जो राज्य भर में वेस्ट मैनेजमेंट योजनाओं के कार्यान्वयन की देखरेख करता है।

मैरी सेबैस्टियन न्याय के क्षेत्र से जुड़ी हैं और काफी लंबे समय से महिलाओं और बच्चों के खिलाफ हो रही हिंसा को खत्म करने में प्रयासरत हैं। इन्होंने मुख्य रूप से महाराष्ट्र में यौन तस्करी के सर्वाइवर बच्चों और महिलाओं को केंद्र में रखकर काम किया है। वे वर्तमान में एक वैश्विक स्तर पर तस्करी के खिलाफ काम कर रहे संगठन, इंटरनेशनल जस्टिस मिशन के साथ काम कर रही हैं, जहां वे
कानून प्रवर्त्तन अधिकारियों की कॉमरशियल यौन शोषण के सर्वाइवर्स को बचाने में सहायता करती हैं और साथ में अदालती कार्यवाही के माध्यम से कानूनी प्रतिनिधित्व भी प्रदान करती हैं। मैरी राज्य स्तर पर सर्वाइवर्स के न्याय-संबंधी मुद्दों की वकालत करती हैं। उन्होंने कॉमरशियल यौन शोषण में गिरफ्तारी की मांग हेतु
राष्ट्रीय स्तर पर एक परामर्श का आयोजन भी किया है। वह वर्तमान में महाराष्ट्र राज्य बाल अधिकार संरक्षण आयोग के साथ महाराष्ट्र के 6 ज़िलों में किशोर न्याय (देखभाल और संरक्षण) अधिनियम, 2015 के तहत चाइल्ड केयर एजेंसियों के कामकाज का विश्लेषण करने के लिए एक शोध कर रही हैं। मैरी वैचारिक लीडरशिप की पहल से तस्करी को लेकर जागरूकता और संवेदनशीलता पैदा करने की दिशा में भी काम कर रही हैं।

मालिनी को 3 उद्योगों – आईटी, मीडिया और यात्रा में 15 सालों का अनुभव है। वे एक वॉयस ओवर आर्टिस्ट और F5 Escapes की संस्थापक / सीईओ हैं, जो एक अनुभवात्मक यात्रा कंपनी है और महिलाओं के लिए भारत में यात्रा को अलग तरीके से परिभाषित करने का उद्देश्य रखती है। वे ना केवल भारत को महिलाओं के लिए सुरक्षित गंतव्य के रूप में स्थापित करने का प्रचार प्रसार करती हैं बल्कि इस दिशा में कार्य करने के लिए भी प्रतिबद्ध हैं। इसके अलावा उनका मानना है कि यात्राओं के साथ-साथ एक स्थाई जीवन भी बहुत आवश्यक है। वे अपने साथियों से सीखने की शक्ति में विश्वास करती हैं और इसलिए अपने कार्यक्षेत्र में लौटने वाली महिलाओं और शुरुआती स्तर के उद्यमियों को प्रेरित करना पसंद करती है।

बसित जमाल कॉन्फलिक्ट रिज़ॉल्यून की अवधारणाओं को समझने के लिए युवाओं को सुविधा प्रदान कर रहे हैं। वे धर्म की शक्ति को एक संघर्ष के बजाय समाधान के रूप में बदल रहें हैं। यह धर्म की शक्ति का संघर्ष ही है जिसने दुनियाभर में लाखों लोगों को मारा है। वे स्कूलों, कॉलेजों, मदरसों और मस्जिदों में इबादत करने वाले छात्रों के साथ काम करते हैं। वे दूसरे को बेहतर समझने के लिए इंटरफेथ संवाद को भी बढ़ावा देते हैं। बसित जमाल “Brotherhood of humanity” के संस्थापक हैं। उन्हें 2017 में अशोका फेलोशिप दी गई थी। वे यूनेस्को के युवाओं के शांति दूत के सह-लेखक थे। उन्हें दुनिया के सबसे बड़े इंटरफेथ संगठन “United Religions Initiative” की सदस्यता भी दी गई थी।

Vasundhra is a fifth-year student at National Law University, Delhi. She is a core member of the research being conducted by Project 39A on issues of mental health of death row prisoners. As part of this, she has travelled across the country to meet and interview death row prisoners as well as their families.

She is also part of the core team at Parichay, which is a collaborative legal aid clinic spread across law schools in the country. It aims to assist those excluded from the NRC list in filing appeals. She has also founded a queer straight alliance on campus, which facilitates important conversations surrounding gender and sexuality. Part of being a law student, she believes, is a duty to use the law as an agent for progressive change in society, focusing especially on groups on the margins of society.

Talk to her about her dog and her favourite saxophonists.

कर्णिका कोहली Scroll.in की ऑडियंस एडिटर हैं। इससे पहले इन्होंने TheWire.in के साथ काम किया है, जहां वह सोशल मीडिया डेस्ट का नेतृत्व और फंडिंग के लिए कैंपेन पर काम करती थीं, साथ ही अलग-अलग आयोजनों का संचालन करने वाली टीम का भी हिस्सा थीं। Scroll.in में इनका मुख्य कार्य इसकी ग्रोथ और ऑडियंस रीच की दिशा में है। यह विशेष रूप से ऑडियंस इंगेजमेंट, इनसाइट्स और न्यूज़मरूम रणनीतियों पर काम करती हैं। यह टाइम्स ऑफ इंडिया और न्यूज़ एक्स के साथ भी काम कर चुकी हैं।

रितु जायसवाल ने 2016 में ग्राम पंचायत राज सिंगवाहिनी से मुखिया पद के लिए भारी मतों से चुनाव जीता था। इस जीत के बाद उन्होंने शिक्षा केंद्रों की स्थापना, खुले में शौच की समस्या से निपटने के लिए शौचालयों के निर्माण, सोलर लाइट्स लगाने, पानी की उपलब्धता और सड़कों के निर्माण की दिशा में खासा काम करते हुए गॉंव में बड़ा बदलाव लाया है।
इसके साथ ही वह स्थानीय निवासियों के साथ जागरूकता को लेकर लगातार काम कर रही हैं। इस दिशा में उन्होंने मेंस्ट्रुअल हेल्थ, बायोगैस प्रबंधन और व्यावसायिक प्रशिक्षण जैसे ज़रूरी क्षेत्रों के लिए जागरूकता अभियान चलाए हैं।
रितु जायसवाल को महाराष्ट्र इंस्टीट्यूट ऑफ टेक्नोलॉजी द्वारा 7वें भारतीय छात्र संसद में “उच्च शिक्षित आदर्श युवा सरपंच (मुखिया) पुरस्कर 2016” से सम्मानित किया जा चुका है। इसके साथ ही वह भारत सरकार के पंचायती राज मंत्रालय द्वारा “सरपंच और पंचायत सचिवों के क्षमता निर्माण कार्यक्रम” में बिहार का प्रतिनिधित्व करने वाले 5 मुखियाओं में से एक थी।

वरिष्ठ पत्रकार सौरभ द्विवेदी 10 से ज़्यादा सालों से पत्रकारिता जगत से जुड़े हुए हैं और वर्तमान में द लल्लनटॉप के एडिटर के रूप में कार्यरत हैं। इससे पहले ये स्टार न्यूज़, लाइव इंडिया, नवभारत टाइम्स, दैनिक भास्कर और आज तक के साथ जुड़े रहे हैं।
द लल्लनटॉप, Youtube में पहला 10 मिलियन सब्सक्राइबर वाला लीडिंग हिंदी न्यूज़ मीडिया प्लैटफॉर्म है।

जलवायु परिवर्तन की दिशा में सरकार की जवाबदेही को लेकर मार्च 2017 में रिद्धिमा ने भारत सरकार के खिलाफ एक पेटेशन फाइल किया था। जलवायु परिवर्तन को लेकर गंभीरता दिखाते हुए वह इस साल सितंबर में ग्रेटा थनबर्ग के साथ न्यूयॉर्क में ग्लोबल क्लाइमेट स्ट्राइक में भी शामिल हुईं। इसके साथ ही पेरिस में हुए नोट्रे अफेयर ए टूस (Notre Affaire a Tous) द्वारा आयोजित अंतरराष्ट्रीय सम्मेलन का भी हिस्सा बनीं।
दुनियाभर के पंद्रह किशोर बच्चों के साथ मिलकर रिद्धिमा ने पर्यावरण पर प्रदूषण के बुरे प्रभाव के लिए 5 देशों (अर्जेंटीना, तुर्की, जर्मनी, फ्रांस और ब्राज़िल) के खिलाफ सयुंक्त राष्ट्र में अपनी शिकायत दर्ज करवाई है और वर्तमान में, वह भारत के विभिन्न शहरों में पर्यावरण संरक्षण की दिशा में जागरूकता का काम कर रही हैं।

विराली मोदी एक विकलांगता अधिकार कार्यकर्ता, प्रेरक वक्ता और मॉडल हैं, जिन्होंने 2017 में रेलवे को एक्सेसिबल बनाने के लिए #MyTrainToo नाम का अभियान चलाया है। Change.org पर उनकी याचिका पर 200k हस्ताक्षरकर्ता हैं।

विराली को बीबीसी द्वारा पहचान मिली है और BBC 100 Women द्वारा 2017 की सबसे प्रभावशाली और प्रेरणादायक महिलाओं में से एक के रूप में नामित किया गया था।

विराली 2014 मिस व्हीलचेयर इंडिया की रनरअप थीं, Being Human कैंपेन के लिए सलमान खान के साथ काम कर चुकी हैं और बॉम्बे टाइम्स फैशन वीक, एफबीबी और ज्वेल्स ऑफ इंडिया की शोस्टॉपर रही हैं।

अपार गुप्ता एक वकील और इंटरनेट फ्रीडम फाउंडेशन के एक्ज़ेक्यूटिव डायरेक्टर हैं। इंटरनेट फ्रीडम फाउंडेशन एक भारतीय डिजिटल संगठन है, जो यह सुनिश्चित करता है कि प्रौद्योगिकी हमारे मौलिक अधिकारों का सम्मान करे।

2015 से, वह जनहित के मुद्दों पर बड़े पैमाने पर काम कर रहे हैं, जिसमें रणनीतिक मुकदमेबाजी और अभियानों का आयोजन करना   शामिल है।
अदालत में, एक वकील के तौर पर उनके कार्यों में डिजिटल अधिकारों के केस प्रमुख होते हैं, जिनमें प्राइवेसी और सेंसरशिप के मामले शामिल हैं।

वे धारा 66A, निजता के अधिकार और आधार मामले में जन हित याचिकाओं का प्रतिनिधित्व करने वाली प्रमुख संवैधानिक चुनौतियों का एक हिस्सा है।
अदालत के काम से परे उन्होंने कई कार्यकर्ताओं के साथ बड़े पैमाने पर काम किये हैं और नेट न्यूट्रैलिटी SaveTheInternet.in,मानहानि कानून SpeechBill.in और गोपनीयता की रक्षा करने वाले SaveOurPrivacy.in जैसे अभियानों को स्थापित किया है।
अपार देश के संविधान की रक्षा करने और डिजिटल बुराईयों के खिलाफ लड़ाई के लिए प्रतिबद्ध हैं।

अशोक मलिक भारत के राष्ट्रपति के पूर्व प्रेस सचिव रह चुके हैं। इन्होंने 1991 में कोलकाता में टेलीग्राफ अखबार के साथ अपने करियर की शुरुआत की थी और आगे चलकर टाइम्स ऑफ इंडिया, इंडिया टुडे और इंडियन एक्सप्रेस सहित कई प्रमुख प्रकाशनों के लिए काम किया।
2006 में, इन्होंने एक स्वतंत्र स्तंभकार के रूप में अपने करियर की शुरुआत की और द पायनियर और तहलका में परामर्श संपादक के रूप में विभिन्न बिंदुओं पर सेवा देते रहें।
2015 में इन्होंने ऑब्जर्वर रिसर्च फाउंडेशन ज्वाइन किया। इन्हें इंडियन इंस्टीट्यूट ऑफ कॉर्पोरेट अफेयर्स के बोर्ड ऑफ गवर्नर्स के रूप में नियुक्त किया गया। यह राजघाट स्मारक समिति के भी सदस्य हैं, जो महात्मा गॉंधी को समर्पित स्मारकों की देखरेख करता है। 2016 में, इन्हें भारत के चौथे सर्वोच्च नागरिक सम्मान पद्म श्री से सम्मानित भी किया जा चुका है।

आशीष बिरूली सामाजिक कार्यकर्ता, स्वतंत्र पत्रकार, Adivasi Lives Matter के कंटेंट क्रिएटर और Youth Ki Awaaz के पावरफुल यूज़र हैं। आदिवासी समुदाय से ताल्लुक रखने वाले आशीष झारखंड के जादूगोड़ा के रहने वाले हैं। बतौर फोटो जर्नलिस्ट इन्होंने जदुगोरा में अपने घर से महज़ 500 मीटर की दूरी पर स्थित यूरेनियम खदानों के कारण हुए नुकसान का खुलासा किया था।
जदुगोरा में रेडिएशन के प्रभाव पर इनके काम को 2013 में रियो डी जनेरियो में हुए तीसरे और 2019 में ब्राज़िल में हुए नौवें इंटरनैशनल यूरेनियम फिल्म फेस्टिवल में फीचर किया गया था। इसके साथ ही 2015 में क्यूबेक (कनाडा), हिरोशिमा और 2017 में ओसाका में हुए विश्व यूरेनियम संगोष्ठी में भी इनके काम को शामिल किया गया था।

गुलेश ने 9वीं कक्षा तक पढाई की और 17 साल की उम्र में इनकी शादी हो गई। एक गृहिणी के रूप में वे एक खुशहाल ज़िंदगी बिता रहीं थीं लेकिन सन 2003 में एक एक्सीडेंट में पति की मृत्यु के बाद उनके लिए आर्थिक रूप से आत्मनिर्भर होना ज़रूरी हो गया।
इसकी शुरुआत उन्होंने लोगों के घर में खाना बनाने से लेकर, सब्ज़ी बेचने, सड़क किनारे पकोड़े तलने जैसे कामों से की लेकिन यह ज़्यादा दिन तक चल नहीं पाया। करीब 3-4 साल पहले उन्होंने एक उबर ड्राइवर के तौर पर अपने सफर की शुरुआत की। आज वह आत्मनिर्भर हैं और अपने बेटे को अच्छी शिक्षा मुहैया करा रहीं हैं।

Shikha Mandi is a 26-year-old belonging to the Santhal tribe – the third largest tribe in India. She is India’s first RJ who hosts an entire programme in Santhali. Her two-hour radio show Johar Jhargram on Radio Milan has become widely popular in the past year. It covers a wide range of local issues, including Adivasi culture, festivals, and the challenges faced by tribals.

Supriya Paul is the co-founder of Josh Talks, an impact media platform headquartered in Gurgaon, Haryana. Using the power of storytelling, Josh Talks is on a mission to create an ecosystem to help the youth go from where they are to where they want to be.

Josh Talks is proactively doing so by providing exposure to the youth by giving them access to role models and equipping them with skill sets so they can be empowered to take control of their lives. On 25th January 2019, Josh Talks was awarded the National Media Award by Honourable President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind and was named in a list of “Top 50 Startups of India” for 2017 by Economic Times.

Supriya is listed in the Forbes magazine “Asia 30 Under 30” list for 2018 and received the SheThePeople Digital Women Award’17 for Best Content Creation.

Dr Aditi Kaul is the Head of the Arts-Based Therapy Program with Fortis Healthcare under the National Mental Health Program. She is a grade 5 UNESCO and CID certified arts-based therapist who has run the programme pan Fortis for the last 7 years which includes working with persons diagnosed with Trauma, anxiety, depressive disorders, disorders of childhood, adolescents as well as stressors of day to day life using psychotherapeutic techniques including visual art, movement, writing and storytelling.

She has done over 500 preventive mental health workshops with schools colleges and NGOs across the city and has been teaching an “Expressive Arts in clinical practice course” for the last 6 years in collaboration with UNESCO and the Council of International Dance, amongst other short term courses.

Saurabh Dwivedi is a senior journalist with over 10 years of experience. Currently the Editor of The Lallantop, he has previously worked with Star News, Live India, Navbharat Times, Dainik Bhaskar and Aaj Tak.

The Lallantop is India’s leading digital first Hindi news media platform, with over 10 million subscribers on YouTube.

Mohammad Shams Aalam Shaikh is an international Para Swimmer. He won Bronze at the 2016 Can-Am Para Swimming Championships held in Gatineau, Quebec in the men’s 100m Breaststroke SB4 category and also represented India at the 2018 Asian Para Games in Jakarta, Indonesia. Shams currently holds the world record for longest open sea swimming by a paraplegic. He has received several accolades, including the Bihar Khel Ratna Award in 2018 and Jewel of Nation Award 2017

Shubham Gupta is an award-winning Mobile Journalist. He is the Head of Storytelling at People Like Us Create. Shubham has produced more than 2000 stories and his stories have also been shared by publications like Hindustan Times and Al Jazeera.

Tamseel Hussain is the Founder of People Like Us Create. He is a mobile storyteller & social media expert. With over a decade of experience, he has previously worked with organisations like Change.org, Oxfam, Greenpeace, civil society groups, media houses, tech-startups, and politicians. Tamseel helps build award-winning platforms, citizen-led campaigns, youth-focused public engagement, placemaking to building an ecosystem for community first storytelling in India, the middle east and Southeast Asian countries.

He also co-founded letmebreathe.in – India’s largest pollution storytelling platform, it now has more than 300 storytellers from 11 Indian cities. They host 25 decision-makers via city-specific sessions and their partners include Twitter India and UN Environment amongst others.

Shubham Gupta is an award-winning Mobile Journalist. He is the Head of Storytelling at People Like Us Create. Shubham has produced more than 2000 stories and his stories have also been shared by publications like Hindustan Times and Al Jazeera. 

Mary Sebastian is a justice professional working for the elimination of violence against women and children with special focus on victims of sex trafficking in the State of Maharashtra. Mary briefly worked in the corporate law field before joining the development sector. She is currently working with a global anti-trafficking organization, International Justice Mission, where she assists law enforcement officials in the rescue of survivors of commercial sexual exploitation and provides legal representation through court proceedings. Mary supports systemic interventions and advocacy efforts on the survivor justice-related issues at the state government level and has organized a national level consultation on the arrest of demand for commercial sexual exploitation. She is currently undertaking a research study with the Maharashtra State Child Rights Protection Commission to analyse the functioning of childcare agencies under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, 2015 in six districts in Maharashtra. Mary also works towards generating awareness and sensitivity on the issue of trafficking perspectives through thought leadership initiatives.

Shantanu currently leads the Venture team at Ashoka Innovators for the Public, South Asia. Responsible for identifying and engaging the worlds largest and most powerful network of Social Entrepreneurs, Shantanu has worked with hundreds of innovators to enable powerful ideas to reach a systems-level change. Shantanu was previously an IDEX Global Social Enterprise Fellow, where he subsequently also a representative on their board of advisors. Prior to his time at Ashoka, Shantanu has worked extensively in the fields of youth mental health in Australia, youth civic participation and youth participation in diplomacy for national and international organisations, such as the Asia-Europe Foundation. Shantanu has a keen interest in reading, writing and the opportunity to engage with new groups of people.

Vishak G Iyer, a 2011-Batch IAS officer, is currently the Special Secretary to the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh.
Prior to this, he was the District Magistrate and Collector of Chitrakoot, Uttar Pradesh.

Hailing from Idukki, Kerala, Vishak has previously held the post of District Magistrate & Collector of Bhadohi, Hamirpur and Chief Development Officer of Meerut, and Varanasi.

An alumnus of MG University College of Engineering, Thodupuzha and a Chevening Fellow from Said Business School, University of Oxford, he has pursued B.Tech in Electronics & Communication Engineering and MA in Public Policy.

Vishak was instrumental in reviving the river Mandakini with community participation, during his stint as District Magistrate Chitrakoot. Chitrakoot district received ‘National Water Awards-2019’ under the category ‘River rejuvenation’ for the effort.

अमन मॉडर्न स्कूल में कक्षा 11 के छात्र हैं। जलवायु कार्यकर्ता ग्रेटा थनबर्ग से प्रेरित होकर, 16 वर्षीय अमन शर्मा ने इसी साल मई में Change.org पर एक पेटीशन दायर करते हुए यह मांग उठाई कि भारत 2030 तक नेट ज़ीरो-कार्बन उत्सर्जन तक पहुंच जाए, 2020 तक सभी जीवाश्म-ईंधन के विस्तार को रोके तथा अनावश्यक शहरी परियोजनाओं के लिए वनों की कटाई को रोके।
अमन ने फ्राइडे फॉर फ्यूचर के दिल्ली चैप्टर द्वारा किए गए छात्र विरोध प्रदर्शन में भी बड़ी भूमिका निभाई है।

27 वर्षीय अभिनव अग्रवाल, एक एथ्नोम्यूज़िकोलॉजिस्ट (विभिन्न संस्कृतियों के संगीत के जानकार), संगीतकार और अपनी स्वयं सेवी संस्था अनहद फाउंडेशन के संस्थापक और निदेशक हैं।

अभिनव, भारत में घटते लोक संगीत को पुनर्जीवित करने की दिशा में काम कर रहे हैं। उन्होंने इस कला से जुड़े लोगों की आजीविका, गौरव और गरिमा पैदा करने वाले आत्मनिर्भर मॉडल बनाए हैं, ताकि लोक संगीतकारों के सम्मान,पहचान और आत्मविश्वास के निर्माण के माध्यम से सांस्कृतिक लोक संगीत के लिए मांग और मूल्य पैदा हो सकें।
वे समानांतर में एक आत्मनिर्भर और आर्थिक वातावरण बनाने में प्रयासरत हैं, जहां एक कलाकार बिना एक मध्यस्थ के सीधे अपनी प्रस्तुतियों को जनता तक पहुंचा सकता है।

ऐसा करने में, अभिनव एक लोक संगीत उद्योग बनाने में मदद कर रहे हैं जो कला का एक स्थायी रूप है और जिसका नेतृत्व खुद संगीतकारों के हाथों में है।
अभिनव एक अशोक फैलो भी हैं जिन्हें फोर्ब्स की एशियाई सूची के टॉप-30 में फीचर किया गया है। इन्हें करमवीर पुरस्कार से भी सम्मानित किया गया है।

श्री कैलाश सत्यार्थी अंतरराष्ट्रीय स्तर पर प्रतिष्ठित और सक्रिय बाल अधिकार कार्यकर्ता हैं, जो पिछले चार दशकों से बच्चों के अधिकारों के लिए अथक प्रयास कर रहे हैं। उनके कार्य और प्रयास पूरी दुनिया भर के 140 देशों में फैले हैं, जो बच्चों को गुलामी, तस्करी, बंधुआ मज़दूरी, यौन शोषण और हिंसा के सभी रूपों से बचाने के लिए प्रयासरत हैं। विश्व भर में फैले बाल शोषण के मुद्दे तथा बाल सुरक्षा, स्वास्थ और शिक्षा के अधिकारों को वे वैश्विक और राष्ट्रीय विकास के एजेंडा में शामिल करने में अहम भूमिका निभाते रहे हैं।

दुनिया भर में कई वंचित एवं शोषित बच्चों के अधिकारों को बहाल करने के उनके अविश्वसनीय प्रयासों को देखकर वर्ष 2014 में उन्हें नोबेल शांति पुरस्कार से सम्मानित किया गया था।

Samir Saran is the President of Observer Research Foundation (ORF), one of Asia’s most influential think tanks. Working with the Board, he provides strategic direction and leadership to ORF’s multiple centres on fund raising, research projects, platform design and outreach initiatives including stakeholder engagement.

He curates the Raisina Dialogue, India’s annual flagship platform on geopolitics and geo-economics, and chairs CyFy, India’s annual conference on cyber security and internet governance.

Samir is also a Commissioner of The Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace, member of the South Asia advisory board of the World Economic Forum, and a part of its Global Future Council on Cybersecurity. Along with that, he is the Director of the Centre for Peace and Security at the Sardar Patel Police University, Jodhpur, India.

Samir writes frequently on issues of global governance, climate change, energy policy, global development architecture, artificial intelligence, cyber security, internet governance, and India’s foreign policy. He has authored four books, several academic papers, and is featured regularly in Indian and international print and broadcast media.

Virali Modi is a disability rights activist, motivational speaker, and model who has spearheaded a campaign around accessibility – #MyTrainToo for accessible railways, which she started in 2017. Her petition on change.org has over 200k signatories.

She has been recognized by the BBC and was named as one of the most influential and inspirational women of 2017 by BBC 100 Women.

Virali was Miss Wheelchair India runner up 2014, has worked alongside Salman Khan for the Being Human Campaign, and has been the showstopper for Bombay Times Fashion Week, FBB, and Jewels Of India.

As a quintessential Bangalorean, the initial part of Vaidehi’s career involved paying her dues to the IT industry as a Software Engineer, both in India, and for a year, overseas. On returning from the United States, she waved farewell to her corporate job and took off to the mountains. She also volunteered as a teacher in an eco-school called SECMOL in Ladakh. Next stop, was Vietnam, where she volunteered yet again, as an English teacher in an NGO that rehabilitates tribals in the mountains of Sapa and also had a brief stint as a writer for ‘Humans Of Bombay’, and its sister page ‘We The People’. Wordplay has travelled with her throughout her journey, and she found that Twitter was a convenient medium to journal her thoughts and ideas. Vaidehi has over 5000 puns on her Twitter handle till date, and around 12.5K wordplay aficionados who follow her. It also landed her at her current job as the Social Media Content Lead at Dunzo – a hyperlocal delivery app.

Ritu Jaiswal contested and won the election for the position of Mukhiya from Gram Panchayat Raj Singwahini in 2016 by a huge margin. Since then, she has completely transformed the village by establishing education centres, building toilets to tackle open defecation, installing solar lights and building water capacity and building roads. She continues to work with the residents and runs awareness campaigns around menstrual health, biogas management and vocational training. Ms Jaiswal was conferred with the “Uchh Shikshit Adarsh Yuva Sarpanch (Mukhiya) Puraskaar 2016” at the 7th Bharatiya Chhatra Sansad by the Maharashtra Institute of Technology, and was among the 5 Mukhiyas selected to represent Bihar for the “Capacity Building Program for Sarpanch & Panchayat Secretaries” by The Ministry of Panchayati Raj, Government of India.

In March 2017, Ridhima filed a petition against the Government of India in the National Green Tribunal (NGT), asserting that the Indian government has failed to fulfil its duties towards the Indian people in mitigating climate change. In September, she joined Greta Thunberg at the Global Climate Strike in New York and also the International conference organized by Notre Affaire a Tous in Paris.

Along with fifteen teenagers from across the world, Ridhima has filed a complaint against five countries (Argentina, Turkey, Germany, France and Brazil) in the UN for not doing enough to address climate change.

Presently, she is spreading awareness in different cities of India to inspire others to protect the environment.

Aman is a class 11 student at Modern School, Vasant Vihar, N- Delhi. Inspired by his love for nature & the environment, 16-year-old Aman Sharma launched a petition on Change.org in May 2019 asking the government to declare a National climate emergency, which has reached 330,000 signatures now. It urges India to reach net zero-carbon emissions by 2030, stop all fossil-fuel expansion by 2020, stop deforestation for needless urban projects and provide its citizens the right to clean air and water.

Aman represented India at the first-ever youth and climate summit at Oslo Pax, Norway by the Nobel Peace Prize Center in September 2019 and his petition was later presented at the UN youth and climate summit in New York as a part of ‘All in for Climate Action’ campaign which has 1.6 million signatures and 90 countries as part of it. He is a part of and striker with Fridays for Future India and avid birdwatcher, conservationist and wildlife photographer.

Ashok Malik is the former Press Secretary for the President of India. He began his career in the Telegraph newspaper in Kolkata in 1991 and subsequently worked for many leading publications, including The Times of India, India Today and Indian Express. In 2006, he embarked on a career as a self-employed columnist, serving at different points as a consulting editor to the Pioneer and Tehelka. In 2015 he joined the Observer Research Foundation. He has been appointed to the Board of Governors of the Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs, a think-tank focused on corporate social responsibility. He is a Member of the Rajghat Memorial Committee, which oversees the Memorial dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi. In 2016, he was awarded the Padma Shri, India’s fourth-highest civilian honour.

Karnika Kohli is the audience editor at Scroll.in. She was previously with TheWire.in, where she led the social media desk, worked on campaigns to raise funding and was part of the team that organised events. Her main focus is on amplifying the reach of Scroll.in’s work and building an engaged audience by bringing data, insights and strategies to the newsroom. She has also worked with the Times of India and NewsX.

Neha Arora is the founder of Planet Abled, which provides accessible travel solutions and leisure excursions for people with various disabilities and the elderly. Planet Abled was awarded as one of the best innovative practices by Zero Project Conference at United Nations Vienna. Planet Abled has also been the recipient of India Responsible Tourism Award by Outlook Traveler and World Travel Market, London – Best Innovation in Travel & Overall Winner and NCPEDP – Mphasis Universal Design Award. This year, Planet Abled was also the recipient of the National Award for the most unique and innovative tourism product by the Ministry of Tourism Government of India.

Planet Abled has also represented India as a major accessible travel destination on global platform like ITB Berlin, Global Sustainable Tourism Council Conference in Thailand and International Congress on Tourism and Technology in Diversity in Malaga, Spain.

Neha is a Global Good Fund Fellow and India Inclusion fellow and a graduate of Nasdaq Entrepreneurial centre MMI program, for her work at Planet Abled. Neha also conducts sessions and workshops in corporates, universities, incubators and various forums for amalgamation of people with disabilities in mainstream via the medium of travel.

Mir is an officer of the 2011 batch of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), serving in the state of Kerala.

He was posted as District Collector of Kannur in August 2016. As District Collector, he was the prime mover behind the transformation of Kannur into India’s first plastic/disposable-free district.

His most recent initiative is a timely project titled ‘Satyameva Jayate’ (Truth Alone Triumphs) that trains teachers and students to identify, vet and respond to misinformation and fake news online. The programme was implemented in over 200 schools in Kannur, covering over 80,000 children making it the first of its kind in the country. His work was widely covered by the national media in India and international networks in Britain, China & Japan.

Under his leadership, Kannur received five Kerala e-Governance Awards, including best e-Governed district from the Chief Minister of Kerala in January 2019.

He has led large projects that have singularly focused on creating value and convenience for citizens. The core driving force of his work has been efficiently bringing together stakeholders from the government, private sector and members of society, in the interest of achieving important social goals.

After a successful three year stint as Kannur Collector, he recently took charge as Director, Kerala State Suchitwa Mission that oversees the implementation of waste management schemes across the state

Malini has 15 years of experience across 3 industries – IT, media and travel. She is a voice-over artist and the Founder/CEO of F5 Escapes, an experiential travel company, with a vision to redefine the way women travel India. She is not only passionate about working towards and promoting India as a safe destination for women but also a firm believer in sustainable living and travel. She believes in the power of peer learning and hence loves motivating women returning to the workplace and early-stage entrepreneurs. 

Gulesh studied till ninth grade and was married off at 17. She was content being a homemaker until one day when in 2003 her husband was killed in an accident and it became absolutely necessary for her to become financially independent. She started with doing a few odd jobs like cooking at people’s houses, selling vegetables, frying pakoras at a roadside stall, etc., but it wasn’t sustainable. About 3-4 years ago, she started her journey as an Uber driver. Today, she is financially independent and supporting her son’s education.

Abhinav Agrawal, 27, an ethnomusicologist, musician and social entrepreneur is also the Founder Director of the Non-Profit Organisation, Anahad Foundation. Abhinav is working towards creating and reviving the diminishing folk music industry in India by creating self-reliant models that generate livelihoods, pride and dignity for stakeholders connected to this art form.

He is generating demand and value for cultural folk music through building respect, recognition, identity and self-confidence of folk musicians, and in parallel creating a self-sustainable economic environment where an artist can distribute their productions directly to the public without an intermediary. In doing so, Abhinav is helping create a Folk Music industry that is a sustainable art form and an industry that is musician-led.

Abhinav is also an Ashoka Fellow, and has been featured under Forbes 30 under 30 Asia list. He has also been awarded with the Karamveer Award.

Anshul is a social entrepreneur and a young media influencer, who founded Youth Ki Awaaz (YKA), India’s
largest social justice media platform for young people to address and engage on critical issues, at the age of
17.

Over the last 11 years, Anshul has gained extensive experience in citizen-powered media, and participatory movement building, with YKA stories often starting nationwide movements creating impact.

An Ashoka Fellow, INK Fellow and Young Innovator (United Nations ITU), Forbes 30 Under 30, Anshul has helped several high-impact organisations engage young people in a variety of important conversations, from politics and gender to art and culture.

He is also on the Civil Society Advisory Group of UN Women for India and has previously served on the board of Jhatkaa, a campaigning organisation committed to building grassroots citizen power across India, and Collectively, a World Economic Forum and Unilever collaborative non-profit to build a sustainable future.

Basit Jamal is facilitating young people to understand the concepts of conflict resolution. He is repurposing the power of religion to be a solution rather than a roadblock to conflicts which has already seen millions die the world over. He works with students from schools, colleges, madrasas and worshippers in the mosques. He also promotes interfaith dialogue to better understand the other. Basit Jamal is the founder of “Brotherhood of humanity”. He was given Ashoka Fellowship in 2017. He was a co-author of UNESCO’s youth waging peace manual. He was also given membership of the worlds biggest interfaith organization “United Religions Initiative”.

Ashish Birulee is an activist, independent journalist, content creator for Adivasi Lives Matter and power user on Youth Ki Awaaz. He belongs to the Ho Adivasi community and is from Jadugoda in Jharkhand. As a photojournalist has has worked to disclose damages caused by the uranium mines located just 500 meter from his home in Jadugoda. His work on the impact of radiation in Jadugoda has been featured at the 3rd and 9th International Uranium Film Festival in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil 2013 and 2019, as well as the World Uranium Symposium in Quebec City, Canada 2015, Hiroshima 2015 and Osaka 2017.

Apar Gupta is a lawyer and the Executive Director of the Internet Freedom Foundation – an Indian digital liberties organisation that seeks to ensure that technology respects fundamental rights.
Since 2015, he has been working extensively on public interest issues which include strategic litigation and organisation of campaigns and collectives. In courts, his work as a lawyer includes key digital rights cases on privacy and censorship.
He is a part of key constitutional challenges on Section 66A, the Right to Privacy and Aadhaar representing public interest litigants. Beyond court work he has worked extensively with activists and set up digital campaigns such as those on Net Neutrality (SaveTheInternet.in), fight against defamation laws (SpeechBill.in) and safeguard privacy (SaveOurPrivacy.in). Apar is committed to protect the constitution and fight a digital dystopia.

Mr. Kailash Satyarthi is an internationally acclaimed child rights activist who has been a tireless advocate of children’s rights for four decades now.

His interventions are spread across over 140 countries in the world in an endeavour to protect children from slavery, trafficking, forced labour, sexual abuse and all forms of violence. He has been instrumental in bringing the issues of children in the global and national development agendas besides leading worldwide movements against child exploitation and upholding the rights of children for peace, safety, health, wellbeing and education.

His unrelenting efforts for restoring the rights of the most marginalized and exploited children in the world won him the Nobel Peace Prize in the year 2014.

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