Programme Feature

Deputy Head Of Loni-Netajinagar Is Driving Profound Change At Grassroot Level

“If you need access to basic public transport, you have to walk at least five kilometres on foot and then reach a bus stand,” shares 23-year-old Smita Tatewar from Yavatmal district in Maharashtra. This is still a reality for many across India beyond the metropolitan hubs.

Swarali Gogate From A Small Konkan Town Explains How Butterflies Matter To A Healthy Ecosystem

Even as a child, Swarali Gogate had immense curiosity and interest in flora and fauna. While most of the children in her village were watching cartoons, she would watch Animal Planet. Butterflies conjure up several emotions in us – of love, elegance and splendor.

Surviving as women in informal settlements is so tough

I was thirteen when I fell in love with my boyfriend, Rahim Qureshi.He was twenty-two. We decided to get married. I was young; did not realise how this marriage would cost my life,” said a teary eyed Reshma Qureshi, an eighteen-year-old with two children. Although Reshma’s mother, after learning about her plan, had tried to dissuade her from getting married at such a tender age and had insisted on completing her education first. Ignoring the pleas of her mother, she got married to Rahim, only to regret it later.

Paving the way forward

Life has been tough for Imam Ansari who resides in Millatnagar, Bhiwandi which falls in the district of Thane in Maharashtra. Imam who now runs his own thriving venture I-Pro Active tells his story through ups and downs that life has presented him with. After Imam completed his graduation, he countered many roadblocks to find himself a decent job. For a long time, he struggled to clear a job interview. After around one year he started working in an insurance agency with ICICI.

Shooting for the Moon

In the wee hours of 3rd May, 16-year-old Prathamesh Jaju set up his “high-tech toys” (read: telescope and camera) on the terrace of his building in Pune. What unfolded led this Pune boy to become an internet sensation for clicking one of the clearest pictures of the last quarter mineral moon. If you scroll through his Instagram profile

Here comes HOPE

“Chhitra didi aur Surya didi aagaye” – is the gleeful chanting I witness – as I accompany the impactful duo Chhitra Subramaniam and Surya Balakrishnan who’ve been frequenting the Bhagat Singh Nagar basti in Jogeshwari, Mumbai since the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown in the city.

Nurture seedlings of rare species in their backyard

8-year-old Ketaki and her father Shivshankar Chapule from Renapur village in Latur district of Maharashtra’s Marathwada region have chosen an unconventional way of living. They are engaged in collecting and nurturing the seedlings of rare species. After spending months in the forest, they have discovered something that gives their life a purpose and it has helped them find their calling. Chapule’s parents and his wife Manisha also share bond with the green. Ketaki’s 4-year-old brother

Driving change

If you need access to basic public transport, you have to walk at least five kilometres on foot and then reach a bus stand,” shares 23-year-old Smita Tatewar from Yavatmal district in Maharashtra. This is still a reality for many across India beyond the metropolitan hubs. Tatewar shares this fate with millions of youngsters who struggle harder to get the same opportunities as their peers from urban India. Yavatmal district is a part of Maharashtra’s Vidarbha region. This part of the state suffers from underdevelopment as compared to other areas. The most pressing issues have been accessing basic amenities like education, healthcare and public transport.

Kam Wasayel me Himalaya ka paidal safar karne wala ek Nawjawan- Alka Gadgil from Maharashtra on Feb 22

ایسا ضرورہوتا ہوگا کہ آپ نیند میں خواب دیکھتے ہونگے۔لیکن کیا آپ اپنے خوابوں کو پورا کرنے کی کوشش کرتے ہیں؟ ایسا ہمیشہ نہیں ہوتا ہے۔لیکن میں اپنے خواب کو پورا کرنے کی کوشش کرنے جا رہا ہوں۔ میں مہاراشٹر سے ہمالیہ تک اپنے دلچسپ سفر کا آغاز کر رہا ہوں۔ اپنی منزل کی سمت ایک قدم۔“ 22 سالہ سدھانت راگنی مہیش گنائی نے یہ واٹس ایپ پر اس وقت شیئر کیا تھا جب وہ ہمالیہ کو فتح کرنے کے اپنے مشن پر جانے کے لیے بالکل تیار تھا۔سدھانت نے مارچ 2020 میں جب اپنا یہ سفر شروع کرنے کا فیصلہ کیا تھا تب وہ ممبئی کے اندھیری واقع بھونس کالج میں باٹنی میں بیچلر کی ڈگری کی پڑھائی کر رہا تھا۔ اس وقت اس کے پاس پیسے نہیں تھے۔ لیکن اس نے اس کے لیے وسائل جمع کرنا شروع کر دیا۔ لیکن تبھی قومی سطح پر لاک ڈاؤن کا اعلان کر دیا گیا اور وہ اپنے منصوبہ پر عملدرآمد نہیں کر سکا۔ پھر جولائی 2021 میں جب لاک ڈاؤن ہٹایا گیا تو سدھانت ممبئی سے اپنا رخست سفر باندھ لیا۔

Garib Tulba ko Technology me mahir banata ek Gumnaam Hero- Mithila Naik Satam, Maharashtra on Feb 22

سنیش کلکرنی مجھے صبح دس بجے ٹھانے واقع اپنے ڈیجیٹل سینٹر پر بلاتے ہیں، بغیر مجھے یہ سیاق و سباق بتائے کہ ہم دن بھر کے لیے کہاں جا رہے ہیں، وہ اسے ”آن فیلڈ“ کہتے ہیں۔ مکمل انکشاف، فیلڈ ورک ہمیشہ میرا سناشا راستہ رہا ہے۔ لہذا میں خوشی سے اتفاق کر لیتی ہوں!ہم ایک رکشے پر سوار ہوئے تب سنیش نے بتایا کہ ہم کلیان، ویٹھل واڑی جا رہے ہیں – جو ٹھانے سے تقریباً ایک گھنٹے کی دوری پر ہے۔ راستے میں انھوں نے مجھے اس بات کا پس منظر بتایا کہ کس طرح گڈو* (تبدیل شدہ نام) کی کہانی ان کی کامیابی کی کہانیوں میں سے ایک ہے۔ گڈو سنیش کا ابتدائی دنوں کا طالب علم ہے جو ڈیجیٹل اسکل ٹریننگ پروگرام کا حصہ تھا۔ اس کے بارے میں بات کرتے ہوئے، سنیش فخر سے جھوم اٹھتے ہیں۔ سنیش بتاتے ہیں ”وہ یوٹیوب پر میوزک ویڈیوز دیکھنے میں بہت زیادہ وقت صرف کرتا تھا – ہماری ٹیم نے بصری میڈیم کی طرف اس کا اس قدر جھکاؤ دیکھ کر اسے ایڈیٹنگ سکھائی۔ ٹریننگ کے چھ ماہ بعد اس نے اپنا پہلا ریپ میوزک ویڈیو ایڈٹ کیا اور اب یہ یوٹیوب پر موجود ہے!“

जाति व्यवस्था को नकारती नई पीढ़ी

“जब मैं बड़ी हो रही थी, मुझे जाति व्यवस्था के बारे में कुछ भी नहीं पता था. मैं लोगों के नाम से उनकी जाति को पहचान भी नहीं पाती थी. मुझे जाति पदानुक्रम का कोई ज्ञान नहीं था और न ही आदिवासी एवं दलितों के साथ होने वाली हिंसा और शोषण के बारे पता था. ऐसा इसलिए था क्योंकि मैं एक उच्च जाति से आती थी. दलित बच्चों के पास ये सुख कहाँ? उन्हें तो जन्म से ही अपनी जाति का पता होता है क्योंकि वह उनके लिए एक जीवंत सत्य है. दलित बच्चों को स्कूल में ताने सुनने पड़ते हैं और उन्हें धमकाया जाता है,” यह हकीकत 29 साल की प्राची विद्या द्वारा व्यक्त किये गए हैं

22-Year-Old Siddhant Fulfilled His Dream Of Walking To The Himalayas

“Do you sleep well at night? Do you dream in your sleep? You probably do. But, do you strive to make all your dreams come true? Not always! I am going to try to live my dream though. I am embarking on my exciting journey from Maharashtra to the Himalayas. One step towards my goal,” shared 22-year-old Siddhant Ragini Mahesh Ganai on WhatsApp, when he was finally ready to embark on his mission to conquer the Himalayas.

Everyday Heroes

Sanish Kulkarni called me to his digital centre at Thane without giving me the context of where we were off to for the day. He called it ‘on-field’. Full disclosure and fieldwork have always been up to my alley, so I gladly agreed. We hopped into a rickshaw and Kulkarni disclosed that we were headed to Kalyan, Vittal Wadi — approximately an hour’s ride from Thane. En route, he gave me the background of why Guddu’s (name changed) tale is one of his rewarding success stories.

Meet 14-year-old Bhuvan who Refused to Follow the Caste Diktat

“When I was growing up, I was totally unaware of the caste system. I was not able to identify caste by surnames. I was ignorant about social hierarchy and the violence unleashed on Dalits and Adivasi. I was unaware of the Varna system because I am a Brahmin. Dalit children don’t have that privilege. They become aware of their social status early on because it’s a lived reality for them. Dalit children are taunted and bullied in school and later on in their adult life”, shared 29- year- old Prachi Vidya

Meet 22 YO Siddhant Ganai who Lived His Dream of Visiting the Himalaya on Foot

“Do you sleep well at night? Do you dream in sleep? Must be. But do you strive to make your dreams come true? Not always. But I am going to try to live my dream. I am embarking on my exciting journey from Maharashtra to the Himalayas. One step towards my goal,” shared 22-year-old Siddhant Ragini Mahesh Ganai on WhatsApp when he was finally ready to embark on his mission to conquer the Himalayas.

Surviving as women in informal settlements

“I was thirteen when I fell in love with my boyfriend, Rahim Qureshi. He was twenty-two. We decided to get married. I was young; did not realise how this marriage would cost my life,” said a teary eyed Reshma Qureshi, an eighteen-year-old with two children. Although Reshma’s mother, after learning about her plan, had tried to dissuade her from getting married at such a tender age and had insisted on completing her education first.

The Everyday Heroes

Sanish Kulkarni called me to his digital center at Thane without giving me the context of where we are off for the day. He calls it “on-field”. Full disclosure, fieldwork has always been up my alley, so I gladly agreed! We hopped into a rickshaw and Sanish disclosed that we are headed to Kalyan, Vittal Wadi – an approximate one-hour ride from Thane. En route he gave me the background of why Guddu’s* (name changed here) story is one of his rewarding success stories.

‘Unbelievable’ Questions Why It’s Difficult For Us To Believe Survivors Of Assault

I was fast asleep. Then he came; his face was masked, and he’d worn hand gloves. He tied me in bed and handcuffed me. I was also blindfolded and gagged. He said, ‘If you tell anybody, I’ll kill you’. “He was there for almost 3 hours. I was raped repeatedly and he took a lot of photographs of me. Then he forced me to bathe twice,” narrates 16-year-old Marie Adler to the police officer in the Netflix series Unbelievable.

Voice of the marginalised

Sunita Bhosle, who is at the forefront of the fight to protect the Pardhi community’s self-esteem, has been recently awarded the Karyakarta Purskar (Activist Award) by the Maharashtra Foundation — a charitable organisation established under the laws of the United States and committed to the basic humanitarian principles of freedom, equality, secularism and human rights enshrined in the American Constitution.

Netflix’s Series ‘Unbelievable’ Invests Faith in Women

“I was fast asleep. Then he came; his face was masked, and he’d worn hand gloves. He tied me in bed and handcuffed me. I was also blindfolded and gagged. He said- ‘If I tell anybody, I’ll kill you’. He was there for almost 3 hours. I was raped repeatedly, and he took a lot of photographs of me. Then he forced me to bathe twice” narrates 16- year-old Marie Adler to the police officer in the Netflix’s series ‘Unbelievable’. Marie is a former foster child now supported by the social service program for troubled teens run by Washington State USA. 

We are the Mainstream

Sunita Bhosle, who is at the forefront of the fight to protect the Pardhi community’s self-esteem, has been recently awarded the Karyakarta Purskar (Activist Award) by the Maharashtra Foundation- a charitable organization established under the laws of the United States and is committed to the basic humanitarian principles enshrined in the U.S. Constitution namely freedom, equality, secularism and human rights. Her autobiography, titled ‘Vinchvache Tel’ (scorpion oil) is the tale of the struggle she had to put through. In this article, I, as a co-writer of the book, evoke some memories from the creative process of the book.  

Marathi Film ‘Jayanti’ Overturnsthe collusion of Caste and Masculinity

The main protagonist of the recently released Marathi film ‘Janyanti’ Santosh aka Santya is an aggressive youth who takes pride in brandishing his caste and machismo. All Santya does is loiter and prowl the area. He is seen as a problematic child by his family and community. Women and girls experience unwanted sexual remarks and gestures from him and his fellows. He has been brainwashed into hating Muslims and Dalits, and his version of Shivaji Maharaj is heavily Hinduised. However, he undergoes an identity crisis after the murder of a woman from his neighborhood.  

Preventing child sexual abuse through a primary prevention lens

Child sexual abuse is a grave threat globally. According to the Ministry of Women and Child Development study on ‘Child abuse in India’ in 2007, 53.22% children faced one or more forms of sexual abuse. The use of child sexual abuse material (CSAM), in parallel, has also been increasing exponentially. A National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) report in 2020 stated that India has seen a 95% increase in internet searches for child sexual abuse materials during the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic. The use of CSAM creates a demand for, and maintains, ‘contact CSA’. Children are abused repeatedly to continually produce content. These statistics only represent the tip of the iceberg. Child sexual abuse in India is not only widespread but also difficult to document. Shrouded in secrecy, stigma, and maintenance of family honor, reporting of cases is limited. 

Meet Young Samaritan, Pooja Dewade

“To become a police inspector, I have to crack one of the toughest exams in our country – the State Public Service Commission’s competitive exam. No matter what, I am determined to achieve my dream,” shared a twenty-year-old Pooja Kachrabai Rajaram Dewade. A resident of Shahid Bhagat Singh Nagar in Goregaon, a suburb in Mumbai

Woman of Substance

ASHA workers have been the first line of defense in the battle against Covid-19 in the rural parts of the country,” says Shashi Shetty, a social worker from Kalyan in Thane district of Maharashtra. Over the years, she has extensively worked towards the upliftment of individuals and children from marginalised communities in Maharashtra.

Reimaging the ecosystem

Butterflies conjure up several emotions in us — of love, elegance and splendour. The unique patterns they carry on their wings are not just mesmerising but therapeutic in many ways. No wonder the twenty-year-old Swarali Gogate, from Devgad taluka in Sindhudurga District of Maharashtram, found her calling in these colourful flies. Swarali is perusing BSc in Zoology from Abasaheb Garware College, Pune.

Reimaging the ecosystem

Butterflies conjure up several emotions in us — of love, elegance and splendour. The unique patterns they carry on their wings are not just mesmerising but therapeutic in many ways. No wonder the twenty-year-old Swarali Gogate, from Devgad taluka in Sindhudurga District of Maharashtram, found her calling in these colourful flies. Swarali is perusing BSc in Zoology from Abasaheb Garware College, Pune.

Breaking the norms

This year, Marathi film Vrutti (meaning, human nature) made its debut at the International Film Festival of South Asia, Toronto, Indian Film Festival of Melbourne, and at the DC South Asian Film Festival. The film is a tale of caste discrimination explored through a friendship of two adolescent boys, Akshay (Krushna Thakur) and Viju (Piyush Thakare Madan). It emphasises upon how class and caste discrimination are passed

Nurturing lives

I started working while I was still a teenager. A small voice from inside, however, kept calling me to do something worthwhile. I couldn’t tell whether the voice was trustworthy or if the stirring within me was real and within reach,” shared Tejas Salaskar, a 19-year-old boy from Mumbai, Maharashtra who is currently engaged with Rashtra Sevadal – a non-profit organization that works with children and adolescents.

At 21, This Farmer’s Daughter Is Cycling 1500 km Across Drought-Prone Area; Here’s Why

Immediately after her graduation in December 2020, 21-year-old Pranali Chikte from Yavatmal district of Vidarbha region in Maharashtra, embarked on a journey that changed her life. As she cycled her way through drought-affected villages of the Western Indian state, she started spreading awareness on water conservation and the role of women in farming. In the last nine months, Pranali has cycled for over 1500 kilometers, covering 23 districts in Maharashtra.

How Anganwadi workers have been keeping people healthy during a pandemic

In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic brought the world to a standstill. The learning at schools and colleges was disrupted. India too had to impose a nationwide lockdown to stop the spread of the deadly virus. During the unprecedented times, it was the country’s army of frontline workers that took charge and helped millions of people across the country. The role of the Anganwadi workers was especially crucial for assisting the rural and semi-urban population.

Meet The Sonavanes, Who Prioritised Their Children’s Mental Health During The Pandemic

While children have not been affected by the pandemic so far, UNICEF reports that the lockdown is having a significant impact on their well-being. There have been stories of children who have difficulty concentrating, are bored, irritable, restless, nervous, and feel lonely. The pandemic has impacted children’s mental health as they miss their school and friends.

Against all odds

This is the story of a determined youth from one of the most marginalised sections of Indian society, paving the path for many behind him. It is also a story of how the ‘system’ itself creates barriers for many who do not have the privilege of accessing opportunities. It started 10 years ago, in 2011. Raju Kendre, then an 18-year-old boy, was in Pune for admission to undergraduate studies. Owing to financial constraints, he had to give up the opportunity.

Kick-off Destiny!

I follow a neat file of people lined outside Adarsh Foundation Study Center’s office who were there to collect ration under the Covid-19 relief distribution programme initiated by the members of the Center to support community settled in Kurla’s Qureshi Nagar, Mumbai. This fortnightly routine is managed by a young squad led by 21-year-old Sameer Kamble. With the informal sector coming to a halt, Sameer and his team has stepped up to help people in the community in this second wave of the Covid-19 lockdown in Mumbai.

As he notices me, he calls for a cutting chai and puts plastic chairs outside the office. He has frequented this study centre for years. “This is the place that contributed to my success and made me the person I am today!” he said with a beaming smile.

Sameer is a karate champion and has represented India at Russia for the Unifight (Universal Fight) World Championship. “Unifight is not a fighting style.

Breaking Patriarchy to Become a Good Father

In the past five years, since our marriage, my wife Bhagyashree has not stopped asking questions. “Had you ever thought you would have your own house? Had you ever imagined you would have a love marriage? Did you ever think you would get so many relatives after marriage?” and so on but I fail to reply to these question as I live in the present – unable to dwell on the past and never think about the future. Nowadays, however, the nature of her questions has changed.

Being a father to a daughter

At the age of 23, when the idea of exploring life dominates the younger generation that often struggles with commitment issues, Vaibhav Pawar had different idea about exploring life. He dreamt of becoming a father to a daughter and had also thought of a name for her – Tiara. Now at 31, Vaibhav’s dream has come to life.  He has found his calling and feels contended with a loving wife Janvi and daughter in tow. Vaibhav – a marketing consultant for an insurance company, is proud of his wife Janvi Doshi who’s a psychologist. 

Investing in the Child’s Future

Snehal remembers reading when she was carrying Anaira – her daughter who turned 8 this year, that the baby in the womb is dependent on the mother for nutrition as well as mental, physical, and emotional growth. She adds, “It is true what you do, as parents, in the first 1000 days makes a difference to the rest of your baby’s life.” Research supports her claim.

Khaana Chahiye – Helping communities fight against hunger amid pandemic

“Amita bhabhi cannot work from home, her work doesn’t give her this privilege” says Sujata Sawant tai – an activist who has been working with the community in Buntar Bhavan, Qureshi Nagar, Kurla for the last 6 years. Amita, like several other women of the community, are essentially home helps. With the lockdown and its restrictions on travel, they’ve been asked to not come for work in Mumbai’s high-rise buildings and societies, until the restrictions are lifted.

Meet Nitant Chavan – a 15-year-old traveler, environmentalist!

Nitant Chavan, a 15-year-old adolescent from the Sindhudurg district of Maharashtra befriended the bicycle when he was just a toddler. His bond with the cycle grew deep with age and his escapades in the wilderness connected him with nature. Hailing from a small village called Varavade, located on the edge of the river of same name, Nitant grew around paddy fields and mangroves. The slow pace of village life was conducive for his love for the cycle and environment. It provided a space to Nitant and helped him bond with the trees and the flora and fauna. The expanse around the village enchanted him and he decided to explore it. As he cycled from place to place, he sensed the depletion of the ecosystem and decided to raise awareness about it.

How 19-year-old Shraddha Patkar is changing lives of small children in Maharashtra’s Kankavali

In the last one year, Covid-19 has changed the way world functioned. After upending day-to-day lives across the globe, it transformed our way of working, learning and interacting. The need for ‘physical’ distancing has led to a more virtual existence. Of everything that has been shifted to the ‘online’ mode, education has suffered the most specially in here in our country. With a large population devoid of access to resources required to acquire education online, children and parents have faced their worst nightmares in the last one year.

Reaching out adivasi women and children with nutritious food and immunization at their doorstep

The district of Nandurbar from Maharashtra houses two mountainous Adivasi blocks – Akkalkuwa and Dhadgaon. Here, the basic amenities like potable water, electricity and transport are scant. Women have to tread few kilometers every day to fetch water and electricity is conspicuous by its absence.  

Along with the topographical hurdles, the local communities face difficulties in accessing health and education services as well. A number of schools, Primary Health Centers (PHCs) and Anganwadi Centers (AWCs) are housed in makeshift structures. The existing number of health workers, teachers and Anganwadi Workers (AWWs) holding these facilities together.

An arduous journey

Pooja Mudhane, a nineteen-year-old girl from Virar — a town in Palghar district of Maharashtra — was exposed to the ugly reality of caste system when she was in Class-III. The school had announced the final exam results in which Pooja had secured top position. She was eager to show the report card to her friends but her father stopped her from doing so. He said, “Our caste, Mahar, is mentioned in your report card. You don’t have to show it to others.” Pooja asked, “Why should I hide my caste?” She didn’t understand the concept of caste system, however, she did sense the shame associated with it.

The Inspiring Story of Javeriya Kazi

Deafening sounds of clicking and thudding coming from the power looms located in dark, dingy bylanes define Bhiwandi – the loom town of Maharashtra. There are several rows of shanties with overflowing drains dotting the streets. The poor state of hygiene and sanitation is an evident characteristic of the region yet that’s not all that describes Bhiwandi; flowers do bloom amid the muck and the mire. 43-year-old Javeriya Kazi – the principal of ‘Momin Girls’ School’ is one such example who is trying to change this image of the town by transforming its landscape.

Meet Ramzan Sheikh, The Young And Empathetic Arbiter For Children’s Rights

19-year-old Ramzan Sheikh from Maharashtra is a second-year student pursuing Bachelor of Arts. Born in a lower-middle class family, Ramzan’s life has been about struggle and compromise. His father is a daily wage laborer while his mother is associated with a non-profit organization ‘Saryjani Mahila Utkarsha Sanstha’ engaged in TB control and Family Development programmes in the bastis of Bhiwandi. Having lived a life full of struggles, Ramzan is empathetic towards other young children and works towards supporting them through their challenges.

Fighting For Identity

A few years ago, the residents of Mumbai were barely aware that a forest existed within the city, let alone the fact that Adivasis lived in it. One can only imagine the problem of identity that young Adivasis would face living in a city. With one part of life enveloped within forests and another amidst the chaos of a city, the Warli tribe has spent their life navigating this identity. Life of Manisha Dhine, a local Adivasi girl from this tribal community in Aarey, is a reflection of their struggles to fight for the right.

Fighting For Child Rights And For Herself, Meet Fiza Yusuf Sheikh

How do we measure merit and accomplishment? Why is the applause reserved only for the rank holders and successful students? Is academic success the only criteria of meritocracy? When you meet the 17-year-old Fiza Yusuf Sheikh from Bhiwandi you realize the unjust system of merit which is often a product of privilege. This teenager has done commendable work in her community, from stopping child marriages to persuading parents to seek immunization for their children but has failed to crack the Secondary School Certification (SSC) exam. 

Meet 16-Year-Old Zosha – A Child Rights Advocate From Mumbai

Born into the most ordinary circumstances, 16-year-old Zosha Khan’s story is full of strength and spirit. This young girl from Goregoan, Mumbai city in Maharashtra trying to make a difference by advocating for Child Rights. Her father is a salesman in a furniture shop and mother, a home maker. She has three siblings. The family finds it difficult to make ends meet with meagre salary that the father gets. But that is no deterrent to Zosha who thinks ‘will assumes more power than money’ and is herself a living example of this adage.

Limitless And Emboldened: Rutuja Raorane’s Journey Has Just Begun

In a widely acclaimed interview with the Science Times in 2011, Stephen Hawking famously advised people with disability to focus on things which their disability does not prevent them from doing. He said, “Don’t be disabled in spirit, as well as physically”.  It is a piece of profoundly powerful advice from one of the greatest thinkers ever lived. Rutuja Raorane, an 18-year-old from Kankavli, Maharashtra, India embodies this advice. This is an account of a young change-maker who has been channelling her life experiences in creating a positive impact around her. It is her story of determination and a yearning to be independent. Rutuja was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy at the age of 3. It is an incurable genetic disease that causes loss of muscle mass and progressive weakness. Rutuja’s parents – Deepak and Shweta Raorane, did not realize the specifics.

Creating a safe space

Joe Biden, the newly elected President of the USA had vowed to enact the Equality Act in his first 100 days of commencing the office. The said Act would provide consistent and explicit non-discrimination protection for LGBTQ+ people across key areas of life, including employment, housing, credit, federally funded programmes and jury service. In India, after decriminalising homosexuality in 2018, the legality of same-sex marriage is now being raised in our courts.

The Teenage Activist Who Uses Gandhian Methods To Fight For The Rights Of

Saloni Todkari, a class 10 student, immediately after joining her new school at Kalyan was informed by her teacher that bindi and bangles were mandatory for girl students. Saloni and her friend Rekha (name changed) who wore neither the bindi nor the bangles, failed to understand the teacher’s insistence while the rule book of the school didn’t mention it. The overzealous teacher would often reprimand them and would offer these two ‘erring’ students the accessories from her stock – only to be rejected. Their behavior was soon reported to the principal who summoned the duo and asked for an explanation for not following the dictate of the school.

Saloni Todkari, The Teenage Activist Who Uses Gandhian Methods
to Fight for The Rights of Children

“The law of love could be best understood and learned through little children,” believed Mahatma Gandhi who always had a special place for children in his heart. His immense belief in children has, undoubtedly, inspired generations and the values he had advocated continue to guide the young minds even today. One such young mind following the teachings of Gandhi is Maharashtra’s 16-year old activist Saloni Todkari.

Keep the spirit alive

The law of love could be best understood and learned through little children,” believed Mahatma Gandhi who always had a special place for children in his heart. His immense belief in children has, undoubtedly, inspired generations and the values he had advocated continue to guide the young minds even today. One such young mind following the teachings of Gandhi is Maharashtra’s 16-year-old Saloni Todkari.

A Small Step for Young Boys, A Huge Leap for Mankind!

When his band of friends came to call Vinayak Sonar for an evening around the usual katta last year, his mother met them at the door. “Kaku, where is Vinayak?” asked the teenage boys. “He’s washing utensils and said he will come later.” The band of boys burst into muffled giggles. Vinayak’s story isn’t about protest marches or youth conferences, but it’s about a silent revolution that adolescent boys in Pune’s communities are a part of – of moving from the belief of ‘protecting women’ to making the world a more gender equitable space.

Children have found a way to channelize their energy by participating in Covid19 rescue and relief work

In early April a tweeter user had put up a post saying that his children have given away all their savings towards Prime Minister Care Fund. A number of children have joined hands with citizen’s groups and NGOs to reach out to the communities who had lost their livelihood due the lockdown.

Covid19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown has hit the lively spirit of children and young adults and they have been relegated to home. Many parents say that their children have become jittery and distressed. Lockdown has inspired some children and young adults to take to creative writing, whereas children from a slum in Oshiwara in suburban Mumbai have joined hands with an NGO wanting to reach out to the local communities for delivering food and other essential items.

From Protecting Women to Collaborating with them

We require a key ally to shift from the popularly accepted notion of ‘protecting women’ to fundamentally changing the world around us to make it safer for women: young men. Sachin Balkunde, is one such thoughtful 19-year-old who has been having difficult dialogues about gender-based violence and discrimination with himself and his peers for the last 5 years.

Varad Kubal Achra – Children Change Makers

Varad Kubal, a resident of Achara village in Sindhudurga District of Maharashtra is 15 years old. However, he belies his age when he starts speaking about the fragile ecosystem of his village. ‘The trees, the birds and the animals have to bear the brunt of the construction activities taking place in the district. Thousands of trees have already been felled and the environment around the village has become untenable.