Equality Vs Faith: Important Questions That Sabarimala Raises

Over the last few weeks, people have asked me about my views on the Sabarimala case and one gentleman, in particular, even asked me to write on it for a certain electronic media outlet. The reason I have kept away from such an exercise till now, even though the battle in Kerala over this matter has raged on for days, has been due to being caught in a dilemma: a dilemma to reconcile equality, which I strongly believe in, with faith, when it comes to politics and society in our contemporary world. More specifically, to reconcile these two ideas when they are at loggerheads due to constructs of faith in a religious order. Pondering over this dilemma opened a pandora’s box of instances and thoughts regarding how a politics of faith is a highly slippery slope at times, and a veritable entity that prevails in many sections of India and the world today. This article is a result of that meditation on this subject of interest.

Myths Evolve

Homo Sapiens established their clout in the food-chain based on their ability to mobilise around a cause or person or institution; mobilise not just in hundreds, as dolphins or chimpanzees can do, but in thousands, millions or even more if the situation so demands! A big factor in that ability to mobilise is the ability of human beings to create myths either over what can be veritable universal truths, revelations or structures of convenience. Ideas like nationalism and various religious elements are powerful enough to drive vast sections of the human populace to stick together not only in name but also in a very deep, sincere way. When the first civilisations emerged in Mesopotamia, Egypt, India, China and Greece, one saw the movement away from an existence for survival that our hunter-gatherer ancestors had to a more sedentary existence that gave a pre-eminent place to thought, reflection and constructs of the mind and society. The fact that many of these have a common root is all too clear with some Proto-Indo-European myths, symbols and societal elements (such as elements of linguistics) being adopted in various off-shoot cultures and civilisations, albeit in slightly variant forms. So if Ahura became the divine entity for the Zoroastrians, its slightly different rendition – Asura became a vile, diabolical presence. Myths were often assimilated and evolved over time: so while Indra went from being a pre-dominant God in Vedic times to a slightly more insecure one in Upanishadic times, elements of Mithraism were seen reflected in Christianity.

What was most important in all of this was mankind’s ability to adopt, assimilate and evolve. This often needed complete reworkings of society in ways that involved disturbances and even violence. So when Akhenaten abandoned traditional Egyptian polytheism and introduced worship centred on the Aten (the disk of the sun in ancient Egyptian mythology and an aspect of the Egyptian god Ra), it was met with widespread disdain. Early clashes between Judaism and Christianity over the mortality and resurrection of Christ are well-documented, even though up to that point and subject both orders agree on various nuances of their faith, including the importance of the Old Testament. What was the underlying commonality between all these moments? The movement of the thoughts, ideas and even emotions away from an established norm either due to a collective rethinking, imposition by a ruler, teaching by an individual or a group, reform from within society or even clash of civilisations.

Historically, there has usually been the alignment of the political structure with a certain school of religious beliefs and philosophy. While Queen Mary I of England preferred the Roman Catholic Church and tried to reverse the English Reformation that her father King Henry VIII started, her successor Queen Elizabeth I in turn reversed Mary’s state policy and sided with Protestantism. The Safavid dynasty making Shi’a Islam the official state religion in the early sixteenth century and aggressively proselytizing on its behalf made Iran the predominantly Shi’a Muslim country it continues to be today. In these countries and times, the common man residing in them had a natural tendency to gravitate towards a certain school of thought or religious order, even though reformers like Martin Luther and Raja Rammohan Roy would arise every once in a while.

That is no longer the case anymore in our world today.

We live in a world that is increasingly democratic, and rightly so. Free will, dialogue and reason hold sway. No one can unilaterally impose a certain edict or idea on the masses and follow through with its enforcement using state power. There is a certain distancing of politics and religion, and (again) rightly so. I personally believe that journeys of faith and spirituality are personal exercises, and state need have minimal role in them. And the reason for that is simple: the equality of every individual in the capacity to seek the truth in faith, spirituality or any other ideas and realities for himself/herself. The use of statecraft and political clout to impose any construct on this front betrays a sense of arrogance and a belief that the state knows what is best for its citizens. To those who believe in this new manifestation of Divine Rights, I ask: what is the state but the complete whole of its citizens and their invested belief in it? And to each citizen is given a right to seek the truths of life and existence. If even one person does not believe in the more accepted beliefs of a certain country or people, they should be allowed to actively pursue the same. That is what the Vedic faith, at one point, envisioned with its Darsanas of philosophy, and that is what modern democracy envisions in its vision today. There are, however, instances in history when these conceptions of realities clash, and it is these that define what makes mankind this effective and powerful; what makes mankind what it is today: a tendency to consult and converse using language to resolve differences of belief and experiences.

Faith And Politics In India

India emerged into the modern age in 1947, struck by divisions and religious tension. The subcontinent had been carved out into two countries by the British Empire in what turned out to be an encumbering swansong of theirs, for the administrators and people of both the countries for years to come. Not one, not two, but hundreds of religions and sects and classes and castes came together in a cauldron of humanity to churn out a modern day amrit (elixir): a certain unity in diversity. Where earlier many of these would be facing off in battlegrounds for warfare and in daily lives, they were led to live together under the refuge of the (Indian) Constitution. Given the truth in the evolution of most human constructs, including myths, the Constitution was given a chance to evolve  as well by enabling the Supreme Court and the judicial system to interpret the Constitution, besides giving the politicians the capability of creating laws and amendments to them. If dinosaurs died due to being unable to adapt to changing conditions, India was designed to be no dinosaur in the face of changing socio-economic and political conditions. There was a healthy possibility of not only making new laws and ideas and constructs by dialogue and discussion but to also look at existing ones using new perspectives and points of view. That, in itself, was not as much a challenge necessarily as an opportunity, of sorts. An opportunity for an ancient country to reawaken with renewed spirit and devoid of baggages that needlessly encumbered its flight into greater heights.

The first tremors that shook that belief came soon after the country was born. The Partition led to a rise of religious polarisation and ingrained disdain for some of these ideas. Gandhi is a champion of peace and the Indian Independence movement, but for the people who killed him, he was the champion of those whom they deemed their enemies, given the slaughter and mayhem that took place in that period. Dualities became polarities: the ingrained dualities in the Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb became polarities  (of religion, caste, class and creed); the ingrained duality in the synthesis of a Hindustani culture (including the language Hindustani) soon turned into a clash of languages and the polarities therein. The other-ing of entities and realities, of constructs and ideas, threatened to tear asunder the beautiful dream of India that its builders had envisioned. Except it could not. It could not because the tussle of ideas was, much like the criss-cross of a net, a strong safety mechanism for a falling dream. In the very clash of ideas lay the surest way that India could never be torn apart till each of its people had a say. India could never fall till all the polarities still comprised a certain multiplicity. Since Dharma is the multiplicity of existences and realities, this Constitution gave us a truly Dharmic way of running our country. However, as in ancient epics, every construct of righteousness and order faces elements of chaos and disharmony.

In the capability of the judicial system to interpret the law lay the greatest accomplishment and the greatest weakness of the system. The former, because of the dynamism that could prevail and the inherent resistance to stagnation, and the latter, because of the human beings running the system still being just that: human. Humans with their own ideas and cultures and thoughts. Humans who prioritised and judged matters with as wide a scope as one could  establish using the Constitution and yet as limited a scope as a human judgement could provide. Even as the Supreme Court and the judicial system have done a wonderful job in the country over the years and I have the highest regard and respect for them, there are instances when one wonders whether we need to have a wider consultation between the institutions enshrined in our Constitution, the government, the media and civil society.

The recent Supreme Court judgement on the dissolution of the practice of not allowing women between the ages of 10-50 into the Sabarimala Temple complex has brought to the fore a heated debate. Lord Ayyapan is a much-revered God for millions of devotees, and his temple at Sabarimala has the traditional debarment of menstruating women. Many of you, much like myself, may rise with the cry of seeking equality, but I personally feel that it needs more reflection. Article 14 of the Indian Constitution enshrines equality while Article 25 enshrines the right to practise and propagate religions in India. The recent Supreme Court judgement sided with the former over the latter with a 4-1 ruling. This has met with an outcry by the devotees, who have challenged it. There have been protest marches across the state. One may ask whether we should give importance to such things, given that the highest court of the country has ruled a certain way. That is where the trickiness prevails.

Matters of faith are sometimes beyond reasoning, and as much as we like to be rational individuals, we are indubitably emotional and often irrational beings. Where on one hand I feel that every individual, irrespective of gender or race or caste or class or religion, must have the rights and opportunities to seek the truths of life and faith, I also feel that practices and beliefs of people that have persisted over ages need to be discussed and possibly even reformed but not summarily scrapped mechanically. History shows that women of the aforementioned age-group were generally permitted except for a pilgrimage season, and this had its foundation in the belief that the presiding deity of the temple complex had withdrawn himself from worldly matters and maintained celibacy. You may ask whether a God needs to not-have menstruating women around to maintain his celibacy. Absurd as that question would be, it holds in it the one point that underlies this debate: how the symbols in religious beliefs and the truths therein be negotiated in society.

Much like secular institutions are invested in with a certain set of laws and rules and practises and beliefs, religious or for that matter any other institution may have their own associated elements of practise and belief. If one is letting such institutions be, then one needs to provide for space to the constructs therein, albeit with also the provision and call for looking at these more closely and reforming them if need be. It must not come as an imposition, since certain beliefs, even though they may be the absurdest of beliefs, have deep societal and psychological value to individuals. Summarily disrespecting or disregarding them is equivalent to summarily disregarding and disrespecting the human being affected and thereby humanity as well. A better route is to discuss and debate; to engage in dialogue and consultations; to reform from within; to show them the flaws in certain elements, if there are any, or concede to allowances. That is true democracy. That is the democracy that I would like to see my country move towards. Ayodhya has been another centre of this debate, and I personally feel that consultation and dialogue is the only way forward. There will have to be compromises on both sides since neither history nor culture or faith are the sole properties of any one people. Evolving as they are, so need our institutions and modes of functioning be: equipped with the capacity to be aware of its own nuances, reflect, possible self-correct and evolve.

In Conclusion

We have reached an age that has seen war and peace in ways never seen before. We have reached an age when science and religion have evolved in ways never before either. We live in an age that offers us promises and opportunities. Opportunities to evolve, not necessarily bodily this time (since the human brain apparently has reached its optimum maximum, as per certain studies), but as a people and species. To make secularism meaningful and to invest in the idea that as much as faith and reasoning are private privileges given to all, the culture of consultation is what holds the seed for a world order that is conducive to the growth of the individual and the establishment of Dharma, for in the multiplicity of realities and the truth(s) therein, interpreted as the human conditioning of an individual may allow, lie the true meaning and purpose of existence.

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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।

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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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