Youth Rights and Leadership

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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: https://www.instagram.com/p/CaXYZX9pnn2/

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We Stand With HNLU

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The student-driven protest at the Hidayatullah National Law University (HNLU) comes in full swing after issues regarding questionable administration, moral policing, hostel timings, restrictive library hours and allegations of sexual harassment are rife on campus. The students at HNLU staged a protest on 27 August 2018 to demand that the judgment passed by the Chattisgarh High Court in Dr. Avinash Samal v. State of Chhatisgarh be respected and Prof. Dr. Sukhpal Singh be disallowed from continuing as the Vice Chancellor. The protest then, came in light of the perturbing harassment a second year law student faced at the hands of a faculty member who forced her to dance for him.

On 20 September, 2018 the Supreme Court in Sukhpal Singh v. Avinash Samal & Ors. stayed the High Court order and Dr. Singh was reinstated as Vice Chancellor. Subsequently, a general student body meeting was held where the students voiced their grievances against the Vice Chancellor and his administration. In response to the arbitrary and discriminatory decision making process, the students passed a no recognition memo against the Vice Chancellor. As of 1 October 2018, the HNLU students have gone on an indefinite hunger strike to protest against the actions of the Vice Chancellor. Dr Singh responded to the students concerns, calling them false and fabricated. He dismissed their complaints as an attempt by certain teachers of the administration to malign his reputation.

One Future Collective stands in support of the students at HNLU, against the rising tide of administrative bureaucracy, moral policing, restrictive campus interaction and on-campus sexual harassment.  

Featured image: Bar & Bench

Indigenous Climate Activist in India/South Asia

Indigenous Climate Activist in India / South Asia | Earth Day 2022

Feminist Justice and Trauma-Informed Support in Institutions

Feminist Justice and Trauma-Informed Support in Institutions

Human Rights and the Role of Civil Society

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The Question of Public Space in a Democracy

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Public spaces represent areas which are open and accessible to all people residing regardless of gender, age, race, and ethnicity. Public spaces represent familiarity, safety and accessibility. In India, though compromised in many respects, public spaces have lent themselves to the changing conversation on many occasions.


For instance, Delhi University’s North Campus found its walls and footpaths painted with ‘Pinjra Tod’ for its namesake campaign which aimed at fighting against sexist college and hostel directives. Earlier this year, farmers marched from all over Maharashtra to Mumbai to draw attention to agrarian difficulties and the fallacies of government action. Both issues are starkly different from each other but are essential to the democratic process as a whole. Their discussion and realization depends on the democratic ability to voice their dissent and the physical possibility of galvanizing like-minded forces in public spaces. But again, campaigns, protests and the quintessential Indian bandh are not the only pictures public space paints. Public spaces are essential because they are safe and familiar common spaces. They have to be open to all, accessible by all without fear or discomfort.

The Pinjra Tod Movement (Youth Ki Awaaz)

How does public space affect democracy?

Public spaces are deceptively simple. Streets, parks, markets and maidans don’t just exist for their immediate value of enabling shopping, walking, sitting or transporting. They serve a much more fundamental purpose in cementing the community together. Public spaces foster democracy because they are spaces where people can come together. Any functional democracy survives on the independence and vigilance of its people. Democracies thrive when there is political, civil and social accessibility. Public space is the physical embodiment of such accessibility. Public space impacts democracy because of the following fundamental characteristics:

  1. Public spaces are enablers of free speech, dissent and dialogue. Right from our independence movements under colonial rule to our present day political protests, democracy and access to justice has grown only from uninhibited access to public spaces.
  2. The connection between the two is not just the physical possibility of a meeting place. Public space catalyses change because it allows communities to come together to develop a collective voice. This creates an inclusive atmosphere conducive for meaningful and impactful dialogue. There is a significant psychological impact that movements brought out into public fora have.
  3. Public spaces are transformative. This allows them to be inclusive and accessible. Public spaces are able to lend themselves to different contexts for different sets of people. Be it the candlelit marches in the wake of the disastrous 26/11 terror attacks or the raging protests following the 2012 gang rape, public spaces lend themselves to change and dissent that is essential to democracy.

In India, where our population far outruns our land, making our peace with the dearth of space is a necessity. However there isn’t just a lack of physical land that taints our need for better public spaces, it is also that oftentimes these spaces are unsafe and uncomfortable to minority individuals who access them. Take for instance women and public space. Women access public space with a purpose, be it work, travel or meetings. They rarely languish in public at odd hours especially without company.

The idea that public space fosters democracy is one that can be met only when individual citizens have complete trust in the safety and security of their public spaces. Dissent and dialogue cannot take place in an environment where public spaces are not held to the same standards as the democracy is. Public spaces are ultimately essential to any growing community. For a heterogeneous society to function peacefully, it is necessary to build spaces conducive for social mixing, inclusion, civic participation and political freedom.

Priyanshi Vakharia is a Research Associate (Legal Reform) at One Future Collective.

Image credit: Scroll.in

Indigenous Climate Activist in India/South Asia

Indigenous Climate Activist in India / South Asia | Earth Day 2022

Feminist Justice and Trauma-Informed Support in Institutions

Feminist Justice and Trauma-Informed Support in Institutions

Human Rights and the Role of Civil Society

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