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How Youth Parliaments Are Bridging The Gap Between India’s Present And Future

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Seeing the active participation of youth during the last general election, one thing is clear that in today’s times, the youth is eager to transform society and see the country grow. They are moved by the interest and urge of fellow youngsters regarding social change. Instead of making an emotional appeal to them, I thought of empowering them by educating them about what happens in the making of the constitutional process.

The Youth Parliament programme is designed to make youngsters participate in a mock parliament as legislators. The selected speaker then introduces mock bills, question hours and other aspects just like in any legislator system. Similarly, the youths then get a platform to share their ground level hardships, problems and requirements so that experts can consider those issues significant and work accordingly. Here, you can find various Youth Parliament events.

1. National Youth Parliament Scheme (NYPS)

The Youth Parliament Programme is a dedicated web portal that has been developed by the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs. All recognised educational institutions of the country are eligible to participate in this programme. E-training modules, videos, photographs and scripts are available on the portal for online self-learning of the participants. Each student taking part in the sitting gets a digital ‘Certificate of Participation’, and each teacher-in-charge and Head of Institution gets a ‘Certificate of Appreciation’ through the web portal.

The objective of the web portal of Youth Parliament is to strengthen the roots of democracy, inculcate healthy habits of discipline, tolerance of others’ view, and enable the student community to learn about the practices and procedures of the Parliament. All recognised educational institutions of the country are eligible to participate in the ‘Portal Based Youth Parliament Programme’.

This programme is organised within a competitive format, which limits the number of institutes participating and thus, not fulfilling the core purpose of the scheme in a desired manner. For overcoming this limitation, it has developed a web portal of National Youth Parliament Scheme to increase the coverage of the programme to hitherto untouched sections and corners of the country. National level celebrations focused on Constitution and Fundamental Duties are held all over the country to commemorate the Constitution Day.

(For more information, visit here )

2. National Youth Parliament Festival

National Youth Parliament Festival 2019 was jointly organised by National Service Scheme (NSS) and Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan (NYKS) under the aegis of Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, on the theme of “Be the Voice of New India” and “Find solutions and contribute to policy”. Youth in the age bracket of 18-25 years were invited to participate in district, state and national level Youth Parliaments. The National Youth Parliament Festival 2019 has already been conducted at the district and state levels.

The participants for District Youth Parliament (DYP) were selected through two screening processes i.e. digital and walk-in screenings at Nodal Institution in 471 designated districts across the country from 24th to 28th January. The best three speakers selected by a jury from each DYP participated at the State Youth Parliament (SYP). Similarly, the two best speakers selected from each SYP participated as speakers in the National Youth Parliament (NYP) on 26th February, 2019. As many as 28 SYPs were held across the country from 5th to 7th February to select 56 contestants for the final NYP.

More than 50,000 youths have participated through Youth Parliaments at all levels and the narrative was strengthened and made more vibrant by their voices, ideas and suggestions. The National Youth Parliament Festival also encourages the youth to engage with public issues, understand the common man’s point of view, form their opinion, and express them in an articulate manner. It captures relevant and effective voices on the vision of a New India, and these are made available to policy makers to take forward.

(For more information, visit here)

3. Youth Parliament Program (YPP)

The Youth Parliament Programme by Swatantrata Centre is a liberal public policy think-tank based in India. It was established in October 2016 by social entrepreneur Raghavendar Askani with the support of Dr Jayaprakash Narayan, Founder, Foundation for Democratic Reforms. Youth Parliament is for the youth to speak up and make an impact on the change agenda for the country, and to take on the role of policy makers and highlight the need for new thinking that will take the country forward. The Youth Parliament is a debate between the best debaters and policy makers and opinion makers. The platform inspires the youth to express their views in an organised way.

Their platform also allows for the emergence of bright future leaders. The session includes a discussion on a proposed bill, general opinion and suggestions from the members and then passing of a resolution with necessary changes. The aim of the Youth Parliament Programme is to lay a bridge between youth or like-minded people working for society as well as the government by providing a common platform. This opportunity fosters a healthy discussion on political reforms, parliamentary activities, policy making, education and employment, empowers the youth, and thus capitalisea on the opportunity “Demographic dividend” to the fullest.

The programme acts as a catalyst in building leaders for better India, creating awareness and empowering the youth through the parliament sessions where they can come together, think, discuss and debate on various issues including education and health, electoral and political reforms, judicial and police reforms, local governments and citizen-centred governance, governance reforms, instruments of accountability and public policy reforms. These sessions then help prepare solutions for problems India is facing now and advocates for new policies and solutions to major policies. Sessions on these above topics are conducted across India, especially in universities and colleges.

(For more information, visit here)

4. Bharatiya Chhatra Sansad (Indian Students Parliament)

Bharatiya Chhatra Sansad (Indian Student Parliament) was initiated by Rahul V Karad in 2011, wherein students from across the country can be sensitised about entering into public life or embracing active politics. These sessions ignite the spirit of politics in the youth of today and inculcate public-spirited and socially sensitive values during their formative years. The initiative aims to raise the extent of sensitivity, awareness, involvement, responsiveness, access and say of youth in political and democratic processes so that a healthy democratic system is evolved to produce competent public leaders and policy makers from the grassroots and from all walks of life.

The sessions provide lessons on the functioning of a democracy and encourage students to serve society by entering public life and attaining leadership roles. It is aimed at enhancing the role and relevance of youth in democratic institutions including political parties, social organisations, colleges, universities and public institutions. We are trying to create an environment so that committed, educated and spirited youth can participate in democratic polity and contribute towards evolving a healthy, democratic system.

(For more information, visit here)

5. The Youth Parliament Foundation

The YP Foundation is a support organisation for young people in India. It was established in July 2002 by social entrepreneur Ishita Chaudhry with support from the India Habitat Centre, New Delhi. In 2007, The Youth Parliament was legally incorporated as ‘The YP Foundation’ — a charitable trust working with the express mandate of developing innovative ventures by young minds, facilitating leadership skills and thinking power and increasing awareness on issues of global importance amongst young people.

The YP is a not-for-profit, non-political, support and learning organisation committed to developing the uninhibited expression of young people with the aim of sustaining a platform that enables them to be effective and expressive agents of change.

The organisation funds and supports innovative work by young people between 13-28 years of age, by providing them with a resource base to conceptualise and execute their own projects and initiatives in socio-cultural, economic, legal or environmental issues that they are passionate about. It has supported work in multiple fields through varied mediums such as community initiatives, performing and visual arts, literary and research projects, interactive workshops, policy and government interaction and research and advocacy work amongst others.

(For more information, visit here)

6. Indian Youth Parliament

Indian Youth Parliament (IYP) is a platform where youth from all ideologies share their opinions. It works as an awakening dialog in Rajasthan to evolve future young brains. It seeks to transform the outlook of young minds for their involvement and access in social causes. It helps to nurture the dreams and aspirations of young and resurgent faces of the state, in order to strengthen the foundation of youth as a whole. It imparts pragmatic training to prepare the youth for the political and social scenario.

It encourages the youth to serve the society by entering into public life and assuming vivid roles accordingly. IYP conducts a very unique and nationally significant one-day annual Youth Assembly in the month of April and the Indian Youth Parliament for three days on 15th to 17th September every year, on the occasion of World Democracy Day. It is a team of 150 people, working aggressively towards the implementation of such practices that can help the nation grow in a positive direction.

(For more information, visit here)

7. National Women’s Parliament

National Women’s Parliament is organised by Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly with the theme of ‘Empowering Women — Strengthening Democracy’. The vision of NWP is to enable and encourage social, political and economic empowerment of women in all strata of society. One of the objectives of National Women’s Parliament is to generate new ideas, concepts, theories and ideologies for women empowerment. National Women’s Parliament 2017 connected over 10,000 higher secondary girls with eminent women personalities.

The three-day event saw girl students connecting with 401 women legislators, 91 women Members of Parliament and 300 social and corporate women leaders of India and overseas. National Women’s Parliament was truly a one-of-its-kind event, with which also came challenges to introduce people to this event. These women leaders share their experience and connect with over 10,000 socially and politically sensitive young girls. The NWP also confers the ‘International Woman Icon of the World’ award and 12 Best Young Achievers’ Awards to women who have excelled in different fields.

(For more information, visit here)

8. My Parliament

My Parliament is an effort to bridge the gap between policy makers of today with those of tomorrow. Their aim is to transform India into a participative democracy, which is why they start from the grass root level – the youth of India. Through numerous seminars, workshops, simulated parliamentary debates on Bills and policy-making, and interaction with public authorities, the initiative gets enthusiastic youth of today to understand the know-hows of policy-making. The session serves as a bridge of ideas between the decision makers of today and the passionate leaders of tomorrow by providing the youth with greater opportunities that would help them make meaningful contribution to the process of nation building.

The My Parliament Winter Session simulation is an attempt to make voices heard, shape opinions within the framework of parliamentary processes, and deliberate upon solutions through the lens of the Indian Constitution. My Parliamentarians get an opportunity to get acquainted with basic parliamentary procedures, their translation in legislative parlance, and application in the political system. Along with the simulation of the parliamentary process in the Lok Sabha, there are debates, panel discussions and policy dialogues.

(For more information, visit here)

Featured image credit: Twitter/BJP

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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