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This Quiz Is Helping Indian Youth Build Awareness, Shedding One Bias At A Time!

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It’s 2020 and awareness is key in all social, political and economic transactions. To take the initiative a notch higher, February of 2020 saw the launch of India’s first-ever digitally gamified quiz on data and facts. India Fact Quiz (IFQ) was conceptualized with the objective of challenging and correcting the biases of India’s youth and making them more aware of data and facts on India, around health, gender, population, environment, climate and welfare.

The championship, targeting youngsters between ages 17-25, is created as a launchpad to identify the brightest and most factful young minds of India. The past couple of years have had us introspect and face multiple layers and levels of privilege, biases and ignorance. IFQ furthers this exercise through its initiative urging us to reconsider our biases and uncover facts. It gives us the reality check we didn’t know we needed.

Supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation India, IFQ aims to create awareness and appreciation for data-backed accurate information and rigour for fact-checking among India’s youth, in an engaging and entertaining format, and encourage the use of data and evidence in public discourse.

Regionals And Finals

The quiz saw 16 semi-finalists compete from the North, South, East & West zones out of almost half a million participants. The 16 semi-finalists were students and young working professionals from across tier 1, 2 & 3 cities of India, and varied disciplines ranging from policy, medicine, economics to IT, adding diversity and plurality of experiences to the competition. They were quizzed on their biases and awareness on topics like gender pay gap, urban and rural infrastructure, health and disease control, climate change and renewable energy, government schemes and policies, and even Covid-19 related topics.

The championship finals were broadcast on Times NOW news channel. Regional finals (North & South) were telecast on Sat, 21st November 2020 (with a repeat on Sun, 22nd November 2020); Regional finals (East & West on Sat, 28th November 2020 (with a repeat on Sun, 29th November 2020) and the National finals were telecast on Sat, 5th December 2020 with a repeat that aired on Sun, 6th December.

Meet The Four Finalists

The four finalists do not just hail from different walks of life; their different goals and thought processes lend a unique diversity to the competition. Their unique identities and aspirations wonderfully complement the competition and the change it wishes to further in the youth of the country.

Rajpriya Bharti, the West Zone finalist.

Rajpriya Bharti, a 22-year-old studying her BBA, is the West Zone Finalist, aspirings to serve the Indian government in future. Talking about how the questions truly challenged her inherent biases about India, she shares, “The questions were critical and thinkable. For instance, I thought Tree Species exist more in the dense forest states like Madhya Pradesh or Karnataka, but it’s actually Goa and Jharkhand. This really surprised me. Another is the maternal mortality ratio which has decreased drastically. India has transformed a lot.

Talking about the criticality of considering data and facts in the pursuit of enabling change and benefitting citizens, she adds, “they play a vital role in the development of the world. They help economists and policymakers in making new changes, applying new laws and regulations for a better change.”

But in today’s world, social media has its disadvantages too, with regards to the veracity of the information that is passed around. Talking about that, Bharti says, “Just by watching the things around us and verifying the information, incident happening around us, one can become factual and informative.”

Shriya Ejanthkar, the South zone finalist.

The South-zone finalist, Shriya Ejanthkar, is all of twenty years but aims to give back to the community. The quiz helped her challenge her preconceived notions too.

“I saw an India that was far better performing than I had pictured. One such question was the percentage of married Indian women earning equal to or more than their spouses. The answer was around 44%, whereas I thought that number would be 12%, as I was under the impression a large number of urban Indian women do not work or work in lesser paid jobs, and most rural Indian women do unpaid work such as helping their husbands in the field of threading cotton. So, it was surprising to learn that almost half of the married Indian women earn as much as or more than their spouses”, Shriya explains.

The youth can do a lot to improve the quality of public dialogues around health, education, climate, gender too. But when asked about the one sector she felt closest to and wanted to work on, she chose Gender. “Gender equality is one that is extremely close to me, and we still have a long way to go in achieving that, in terms of societal attitudes especially. Equality is not just achieved when all girls go to school, it is achieved when women are equally participating in government, economy, and society, making decisions and having equal opportunities.

It is also achieved when society truly perceives them as equal, and we have a lot of problematic notions of gender roles, women’s modesty, etc existing in our society today that still needs to be quelled. If I had a chance, I would have more women participate in the economy by creating jobs and employing them. I believe that if we progress as an economy, that will have a direct impact on inequality in the country”, she explained.

Aditya Maurya, the North zone finalist.

All it took for Aditya Maurya, the North Zone finalist, was the tiny yet magnificent bee of curiosity to participate in the competition. His curiosity is equally supplemented with the awareness he holds, and the opinions he has on the impact of data and facts on the lives of citizens. “During TV debates or political debates, we often see so much misinformation and disinformation on such important matters. And viewers watch this and have such wrong impressions then. We don’t know the real picture. With data and facts, we won’t judge a society on just random thinking; it will help us know the reality of our country and improve it in the areas that need focus and attention”, he explains.

Aditya’s passions range from animal welfare to institutions in the country. He wants stricter punishments for animal abuse and also to rebuild the political and judicial systems of the country. His goal to be a successful entrepreneur only adds to the many feathers he wishes to have in his hat.

Pradunma Choudhary, the East Zone finalist.

Pradunma Choudhary wants to build a career in finance. The 22-year-old East Zone finalist credits his motivations to be the adrenaline he gets by participating in such competitions. He strongly advocates for extending these conversations around change and citizen benefits to rural areas and in vernacular languages due to their inaccessibility and limitations in terms of outreach.

Talking about the relevance of data and facts in the same, he says, “Pure data and facts may not interest most of the public, and hence people will forget numbers in the long term. But what people will remember are conversations. Hence, we need to have more data-driven engagements, which will make people think and hence, benefit in the long term.” Further talking about the importance of dialogue and engagement with government to bring about change, he adds, “Public dialogue is possible when the youth realise that a dialogue can be established only through disagreements. Engaging for the sake of engaging is not enough. And to improve all that, the youth need to take a proactive dialogue not among each other, but to the government.”

To inculcate this engagement, he believes that the focal point should be education. “Children in metros have a head start on children in rural areas, catching up on that becomes impossible later. We talk about bringing equality in gender but that would become easier when we bring equality in education. I’d revamp the CBSE syllabus. It is simply terrible and diluted to the core. So is the undergrad education, the syllabi us outdated and needs an immediate freshening up.”

Delving into the core passions of gender, education, animal welfare and justice, these four finalists represent urgent issues that India needs to address. Their ideas, passions and statements highlight how an initiative like IFQ is pertinent in creating awareness with the help of data-driven facts and solutions. Head over here to take the quiz yourself and challenge your notions, one bias at a time.

For more details on India Fact Quiz, you can click here. https://www.indiafactquiz.com/; These are various handles of the initiative: Facebook: @IndiaFactQuiz; Instagram: @IFQ 2020; Twitter: @IFQ2020; LinkedIn: India Fact Quiz; YouTube: @DataBaaz.

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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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