Meet Naveen – a man with a vision of setting up Youth Parliament in India
Naveen was the Chairman of Students’ Council, IISc for two consecutive terms, heading 4500+ students and a Ph.D. scholar at Indian Institute of Science (IISc). He is leading the journey to establish ‘Youth Parliament to India’ movement. In the first cohort of Creative Leadership Program by UoC, Naveen came in as a friend of a participant and later got involved. Soon, he got hooked on to the program as he learned unique ways of institutionalising change in a large and complex nation like ours.
With his colleagues at students council, Vivek and Tarun, the team joined hands with waste workers around the IISc Campus and ensured that all the waste was recycled at the Dry Waste Collection Centers. This helped many waste workers get livelihood opportunities and right wage for their work.
Today, he is a Lok-Sabha Research Fellow at the Parliament of India. He is the Ambassador for Winter Youth Assembly, 2018 at the United Nations. His area of interests includes sustainable development, a scientific approach to solving societal problems, empowering youth for political participation. Also facilitating student social responsibility activities like notebook drive, Idea conclave, taking the joy of science to rural India, wherein science education is made more effective to government schools and rural areas through experiments and live examples.
Prashanth – A full-time volunteer and a full-time corporate employee
Meet Prashanth, a senior employee at Mindtree. He learned about UoC’s project of connecting artisans to consumers via one of email threads in his organization sent by the CSR team. He signed up in the second cohort of volunteers for the program and worked dedicatedly for 3 months.
His hometown being Mysore, one of India’s biggest hub of artisans and known for exporting quality products, he was aware of the conditions of artisans and also saw this as an opportunity to contribute back to his hometown.
During his induction days, he discovered that there is so much more he didn’t know about the lives of artisans. He found that many artisans were underpaid and many others have been duped by the middlemen and weren’t paid at all. He spent time with 100+ Self Help Groups and understood the business of creative toy making, idol making, and paper bags. He also found that there is a lot of talent in Mysuru artisans that the World needs to know.
Prashanth gathered 500+ women artisans for a training program that was co-hosted by Stree Shakti Sangha and UoC. Together with the partners, he educated the women about emerging products in the market and changing needs of consumers. He discovered that women are experts in their own products and made them train each other on products like hand-made jewelry, soaps, etc. One of the women now also manages the retail outlet in Mindtree Ltd. that sells these products.
As he has moved on to the US, he continues to purchase from artisans and farmer friends he made in the project and connects them to his colleagues in the US. His kitchen shelves have produce from farmers and his house is home to many artisan products made by the same women.
When asked, he says, the project has given him immense learning on building leadership capabilities at his work, empathy, and the ability to manage complex problems.
Meet Smitha – Took the first step and the friendly neighborhood followed
Meet Smitha, once a neighborhood volunteer but now a known social campaigner in Basavanagudi, Bengaluru. Smitha was like many other women in her community who cared about the neighborhood but couldn’t act towards it or gather consensus about starting a waste segregation drive. She saw garbage spots at the street corners and approached UoC to start a volunteering drive.
Interestingly, she didn’t expect college students of corporate volunteers to drive an awareness campaign in her neighborhood. She wanted to take the mantle in her hands and drive change. In about a month, in collaboration with Hasiru Dala, CCRA, I Got Garbage, and Basavanagudi Residents Welfare Association, she managed to recruit a team of volunteers comprising of retired residents, young citizens and other women who underwent a structured training program with UoC. UoC also developed a mobile application to support their effort that allowed them to start a campaign, register all houses (waste generators) to waste workers who could then make a living out of clean, segregated dry waste.
Soon after, a UoC’s institutional partner, Christ University joined her endeavors and took the initiative of ‘Donate Dry Waste’ to 11 different neighborhoods, including localities in Bangalore, such as Banashankari, BTM, Shivajinagar and more.
Today, other familiar calls pushes her to get up and walk the street. A lively sight welcomes her as women, men and children from the neighboring houses come to join her initiatives. She is a confident, independent community entrepreneur besides being a mother and wife.
It has inspired a feeling of community and commitment in the neighborhood, and inspired many other women to take lead in a cause of their choice.