Human Rights and the Role of Civil Society


On 24th March 2022, One Future Collective hosted an IG Live on ‘Human Rights and the Role of Civil Society,’ moderated by Shefali from India Education Collective. She was joined by Lisa Majumdar, a part of Civicus, Megha, a researcher, and Vihaan, a senior campaign associate at Haiyya. The conversation provides unique insights into how human rights in India are increasingly under threat and civil society’s role in protecting them. 

The conversation started with the proposal to implement a state-wide legal framework to ensure journalists’ safety across the nation. Megha pointed out that the freedom of the press in India is threatened, and journalists often face violence from the state and the police. She noticed how journalists who did not condone the government openly were the safest; otherwise, they faced state-sanctioned violence. She noted how it was essential to look at the Civil Protection Act and the ethics of the IT rules and guidelines. Lisa added that the state should and needs to protect its journalists and have clear policies to ensure that all data remains encrypted. 

The conversation then turned to how the Covid-19 pandemic saw an interaction between technology and civil society and how that should be acknowledged using the framework of human rights. Vihaan talked about the challenges that Haiiya faced and their learnings while helping DBA and trans or queer youth during the pandemic. Vihaan mentioned how the young people were not just affected at the individual level but also collectively, as their right to life and access to shelter and food was hampered. People could not move out of their houses, labourers could not return to their homes, and sex workers also stopped earning. It was the state’s responsibility to protect people’s rights and care for their needs during such times.

However, it failed to provide for its citizens adequately, so civil society had to step in. The social welfare schemes launched by the state were not sufficient and inaccessible to most people it targeted due to lack of documentation. Vihaan further mentioned that while Haiyya does not generally provide needs-based services, it felt the need to intervene in domestic violence or abuse cases. Young women and transpeople’s sexual rights and health rights were specifically affected, as transpeople could not access hormones that were gender-affirming and life-saving.

The conversation then turned to how the state has suspended the FCRA license of many voluntary organizations and NGOs and how these organizations can move forward and cope in such a situation. Lisa spoke of the crucial nature of foreign funding and global operations management in such a case and the need for these organizations to maintain a functioning democracy. Megha also emphasized the importance of awareness-raising while challenging the positive image that the government maintains on a global level instead of providing state support. The civil society also took up collective responsibility and provided continuous support to challenge structural oppression, build awareness, and advocate for the rights of marginalized communities during the pandemic. 

Towards the end, Lisa talked about how Civicus uses quantitative data and qualitative reports, and information from around the world to prepare holistic reports about governments worldwide. Megha stressed the need for police reform as the police often perpetuated violence on behalf of the state and harassed civil society organizations or journalists. She pointed out how policing became harsher during civil society protests with UAPA and Section 144. Lisa concluded the discussion by stressing the need for a more fundamental change in society to strengthen the protection of human rights.

Watch the full Instagram Live here: 

Fatness in Urban India: Desiring and Being Desired

Public spaces of education: The complicated nexus of shame, agency and resistance

16 days of Activism, 2022 at One Future Collective

Youth Rights and Leadership


On the 24th of February, we at One Future Collective hosted an IG Live on ‘Youth Rights and Leadership’. With Deepa as the moderator, a former One Future Fellow and we were joined by Deepa Pawar, the founder of Anubhuti and Sukannyaa, a member of Pravah.


Deepa started by asking what the speakers’ definitions of youth rights were. Deepa Pawar takes the examples of Babasaheb Ambedkar and Savitribai Phule who were young themselves when they started working on creating a change. This shows how important youth rights are in a country like India. We must all help in building a stronger bridge to connect the effort of the youth in taking part in the revolution and we must be inclusive in this effort. According to her, youth rights are no separate component of the values of India’s constitution. However, they do require more attention to the process and implementation. 


Sukannyaa believes the stage between adolescence and adulthood is a very important and eye-opening phase where one experiences many aspects of life like work, justice, and equality in a different light. Each person experiences unique challenges and difficulties in this journey. We must highlight these challenges and bring them into mainstream conversations.


Pravah does this on three levels: First is by changing the way we view the youth and avoiding stereotypes where we look down on them or view them through a tokenistic lens of pawns needed to create a better economy. This in turn avoids creating a barrier and empowers the youth. The second is by creating spaces for the youth to represent their communities when it comes to conversations around rights and equality and doing this through an intersectional perspective. The third is by questioning ourselves on how we can create safe environments for the youth to work and build on their strengths and meet people of different identities. 


Deepa then goes on to question how Anubhuti has made sure to address intersectionality in its efforts. Deepa Pawar highlights how there is a common misconception that the youth are not interested in politics in general. Engagement in politics must be created in educational institutions, but when these institutions shun students from understanding, critiquing, and participating in politics it creates a bad environment. These spaces must promote political literacy and not political hatred. Anubhuti works as a mirror to show the youth what they can do. The youth have their own lived experiences to reflect on and we try our best to question the root causes of these experiences. Fortunately, the marginalized communities of our country, be it nomadic tribes, the trans community, or working women are naturally equipped to understand the issues that all Anubhuti has to do as an organization, is to facilitate. Deepa reminisces about this process and says it’s been a two-way street. Anubhuti has learned just as much as it has taught while working with the young.


The statement ‘personal is political’ rings true to covering intersectionality. For instance, being a woman, you naturally are drawn to and affected by women’s rights. Anubhuti designs its approach underlining these specific identities as these identities dictate the strengths, challenges, and living situations of these individuals.


Deepa then goes on to ask Sukannyaa how Pravah has made efforts to create a safe environment for young people to grow. Sukannya addresses how Pravah tries to create these spaces without setting prior expectations that are often a burden and allows the youth to create and explore on their own. Our internship programs also see people from different parts of India such as Jammu and Kashmir and the south as well interacting among themselves. This not only is educative but also increases empathy for those different from us.


Deepa Pawar says that creating these spaces is not easy, especially in movements. Asking questions has become more and more dangerous over time. We are indoctrinated with the ideology that marginalized communities do not and should not be given the capacity to participate in political scenarios. Fighting such social biases is no easy feat. When speaking about these safe spaces, Deepa wishes to highlight the need for a support system to rescue the youth when they are caught in the realms of authority for standing up.


The panel concluded the talk by lending their idea of the concept ‘Young Feminist People Power’. Sukkannyaa believes this concept stretches itself to all forms of representation. Deepa Pawar then questions why we still don’t recognize the feminist movements native to India far before the movement was given a name in the west. Savitribai Phule and Fatima are perhaps the best examples of Young Feminist People Power narratives. She wishes for us to resurface these narratives, learn from the past experiences of the women that have helped create a change with integrity and create our own stories as we go on.


You can watch the full video here:

Fatness in Urban India: Desiring and Being Desired

Public spaces of education: The complicated nexus of shame, agency and resistance

16 days of Activism, 2022 at One Future Collective

Education Justice in the Pandemic


On 15th February, One Future Collective hosted a live session on ‘Education Justice in the Pandemic’. Mrinalini, an educator at the ClayLabs Education Foundation coordinated the session with discussants Manvi, co-founder of Alokit; Drashti from Slam Out Loud; and Tarusha, an action researcher at HumanQind. The session aimed to understand the impact of the pandemic on the education sector from on-ground activists and social workers involved in the field. The session also critically looked at the gaps in policies that address inequality in access to education.


The IG live began with discussing the effects of COVID-19 on the education sector and how students, teachers, and educators have been deeply impacted. Mrinalini set the context with statistical facts and data about education inequality worldwide, including India, where 45% of the students drop out before pursuing higher education. As education was never envisaged to be imparted over a laptop or through the virtual medium, Mrinalini asked each speaker about their own experience of adapting to the pandemic. 


Manvi mentioned how ‘Alokit’ shifted to providing help to the teachers and principals and came up with customized needs-based programs to help educators become familiar with online modes of learning and teaching. Drashti, as a part of Slam Out Loud, admitted that the onset of the pandemic was a confusing and challenging time in the country, especially since education wasn’t a priority. However, they noticed different organizations collaborating to ensure children’s basic needs and provide access to necessary devices for online learning. Their organization made a curriculum that was accessible even through WhatsApp and set in a checking system with students to ensure their well-being. Tarusha spoke of how HumanQind aimed to share power with young children and involved them in decision-making. HumanQind assisted the schools with reopening and gave the young children a platform to voice their opinions. During their work, they witnessed how the entire school ecosystem was in severe mental distress, with teachers and principals facing burnout and fatigue. 


The speakers then discussed their learnings from the pandemic. Drashti shared how children weren’t as interested in academic writing practices but responded very well to art-based activities like theatre, storytelling, or poetry. The children also found it challenging to interact freely or collaborate in social groups as they were isolated for a long time. Thus, Slam Out Loud had to tap into the socio-emotional reserves of the children along with all the resources they had on hand. 


Tarusha also agreed with how children no longer had a fixed routine to pay attention to and how they were losing friends due to online schooling. They talked about the importance of creating trust-building and partnerships inside the school and adopting a collaborative approach towards school reopening. Manvi added the importance of teaching students to cope with stressful situations and focusing on their well-being. 


The conversation then turned to how each of the speakers addressed the learning loss resulting from the pandemic and the challenges they faced while the students were integrating back into the school system. Manvi emphasized that even before focusing on addressing the learning loss and finishing the syllabi, the students should be allowed a short period to settle in at their own pace. They suggested conducting a baseline assessment to understand the learning loss that the children had suffered. According to them, schools should focus on the well-being of the students and adopt a level-based teaching method. Drashti spoke of how their organization’s primary aim was to prevent dropouts due to the pandemic. Slam Out Loud also focused on increasing children’s socio-emotional skills and teaching academic syllabi. Tarusha further elaborated on HumanQind’s ‘Crosswalk’ program, where children were a part of the designing and planning team to bring changes to the school ecosystem. 


The last question in the session focused on policy suggestions to develop the education sector to make it more accessible and inclusive. Manvi recommended that all stakeholders be prepared for a blended mode of learning for the future, whereby governments would support students for online learning in case of any similar scenario. Tarusha added that the students’ voices should be heard during policy and decision-making and schools’ decision making. Drashti also agreed on the need to make education more inclusive to cater to the needs of different children and to look after the socio-emotional development and well-being of the students. 


Find the full Instagram Live session here 

Fatness in Urban India: Desiring and Being Desired

Public spaces of education: The complicated nexus of shame, agency and resistance

16 days of Activism, 2022 at One Future Collective