Saturday, 17 August 2013


In Chandigarh where number of residents are exceeded by motor vehicles and pollution on the rise. Chandigarh Ecocabs is a ray of hope for the citizens and to the environment. Ecocabs an initiative by a group of young social change makers assures a mode of transport which is not a burden to the environment and provides an end to end connectivity in the city. In this Interview we talked about their motivation, views on today's youth and the future plans of Ecocabs.
Here are some excerpts....

  • What was your motivation behind Chandigarh Ecocabs.? When did this idea struck you guys to introduce Radio Rickshaws in Chandigarh ?

We are successfully running Ecocabs-Dial-a-rickshaw concept at Fazilka since June 2008. In the year April 2010 honorable Punjab and Haryana High Court on its own, took an action on the news item which appeared in Indian Express on Fazilka Ecocabs, and found it one of the most sustainable and eco friendly initiative and shall be replicated in cities of Punjab, Haryana and UT Chandigarh.  Immediately after Chandigarh Municipal Corporation invited Navdeep Asija, founder of Ecocabs for the discussions.
 Nothing was materialized. After series of meeting nothing was happening due to over regulated regime of Chandigarh Administration. In the month May 2013, We along with group of young social entrepreneurs or we can say social change makers, came together and thought of introducing “Chandigarh Ecocabs, a community based driven cycle rickshaws. Gautam and Ashok Felix stared working on the web interface.

Navdeep Asija 

In the  Meantime, we presented the case to Commissioner Municipal Corporation, Chandigarh Mr V.P. Singh and he agreed for their side of administrative support.  During this time, many developments happened, like we met Mr K.K. Sharma, Adviser to Administrator UT and Mr V.K. Singh, Financial Commissioner UT at one of the conference on Sustainable Mobility of Chandigarh organised by Centre of Science and Technology. They also liked the concept. Team approached Hi Bird cycle manufacturer, in order to support our mission they also agree to give us free cycle rickshaw for the launch. So, overall everything was happening in the favour of project and finally on 25th June 2013, formally we launched this service in Chandigarh.

The main motive behind this project was to develop a sustainable mode of transportation to improve last mile connectivity in urban areas by strengthening existing non motor mode of transpiration in mind.

  • Everybody in your team has an excellent educational background; rather than working for a reputed multinational corporation and earning a six digit salary, what initiated you guys to start such a kind of social venture which could bring a change in the society?
Only answer to this question is “Be the change, we wish to see” but in our case, we are the change we wish to see. The one agenda that brought us together is “life of significance”. Our beautiful nation has giving us the opportunity to earn six digit salaries, provided us the equal opportunity to attain best of the education then it is very important for us to contribute more and more towards nation building.

  Our team decided to work for the people those who are at the bottom of the pyramid, the largest, but poorest socio-economic group mainly farmers and labour class. Unfortunately they are the most deprived section of our society, where none of the welfare measures are reaching. Our initiative is more like a bridging the Gap and enable the weaker section of our society with equal economic and social opportunity; we are very sure, this would bring positive change in our society.

  • Taking a look at the increasing crime rates against women (including the infamous Delhi gang rape case) there is a new stereotype view that their own private vehicles are safer for women than going for public transport. On behalf of Chandigarh Ecocabs what do you have to say to those people.? Are rickshaws safe for women?

Rickshaw is the safest para transit mode of public transportation. Reason is very simple, it’s open and it’s slow. Recent report by Justice Verma on criminal law also suggests promoting non motor mode of transportation directing towards facilitation of vendors, hawkers and cycle rickshaw. They improve overall safety and security in the city. Rickshaw people are very helpful to the police in terms of providing information related to crime.  Major user of the rickshaw is either women or elders. Both are the vulnerable segment of our present society and in many surveys and report, the same things is reconfirmed. The main reason for linking rickshaw with phone call was only to improve accessibility of their preferred mode of transportation, which eventually will improve their safe mobility.

  •            Usually youngsters have an outlook that in such a type of social venture profits are quite less, and needs a lot of funds. They say, the operation is successful, but the patient is dead. Which means that you put in all your efforts and the venture is a success but we don’t earn profits?  Is the above statement true in your case?
It all depends how you count your profit, profit in terms of monetarily gain?? In that way we can say, we will be able to recover our own initial investment and recurring costs.  In order to institutionalize the project, we have developed this hybrid organisation. World over organisations are working either ‘for profit’ or ‘non profit”. Our is combination of both, we are making nominal profit in order to recover the operational management cost. Our is a group of three types of social entrepreneurs, few have time, few have money and few of them have ideas. It is more like donate your skills and not money all the time. Project started from Fazilka, Punjab in the year 2008 and now operational in all major cities and towns of Punjab, now in Chandigarh. So, with our approach, we can say, operation is successful and patient is discharged to enjoy his rest of the quality life with full dignity and love.       

  • Do you think our education system has failed both in moral and skill based education?
We are the youngest nation with maximum youth population. So, far this youth power is being used during elections but not is nation building. No clear cut directions are given to youth, say after independence. Our present system lacks role models which can motivate and give direction to the youth. Youth is following what they see is good. So far the “real good” definition is somehow missing for the larger masses. Yes, up to some extent we can blame our present text book based and degree system of Education. The value and skill based education system is being attacked by British, like our traditional Gurukul, and result is in front of us. I appreciated, you raised this question, it is high time to realise this mistake and start working towards the corrective measures. “Money and fame earned without values carry no significance”. It is the need of hour and we need more and more role models, and leaders, who can further create more social leaders who can guide and give direction to the present youth.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Age No Bar for Anitha Arvind

Anitha Arvind, the social crusader, the activist, the human rights well wisher and the person striving for a change in the society.
Starting off with the basic information about Anitha Ji, she has done her graduation in English Literature from a reputed college in Kerala. Her post-graduation  was in the field of social work from a renowned university in Rajasthan.
Such was her passion for social welfare and charity that she also did a Post Graduate (PG) diploma in Child Welfare from the prestigious Cambridge University, England.

Starting the conversation with Anitha Ji, our question covered the aspect of women being confined to the four walls of the house after their marriage. She strongly disagrees with this taboo.
"I feel that women should be self dependent after marriage they should not restrict their horizons to their families only. They should realize their aspirations and considers that there's the whole world to be seen and explored. If such kind of a mindset and thinking arises then their caring towards fellow human beings will definitely be on a rise."

On asking about her contribution towards the widows of our society, she exclaims, "I recently organised a circus show especially for the widows and their children. I managed to get 171 widows on board to watch the circus, free of cost."  Since Anitha Ji has a wide range of contacts, so her friends helped her financially to organize this circus show.
"My main motive was to refresh and rejuvenate the minds of these widows and their children. So that they forget about all their worries and tensions and live a life filled with joy and happiness."
Anitha Ji has also helped a widow financially and supported the education of that widow's five children by geting them admitted in a good convent school under the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) quota.

                                    (Anitha Ji with the children of the widows at the circus show)

Everyone has an inspiration so as to do his or her's dream job. For Anitha Ji it was none other than her parents. "My parents instilled in me the feeling of brotherhood, sharing and caring not only for the fellow beings but also the needy people. In my parents' case they were also available 24x7 for the poor people who needed any kind of support or help."
Anitha Ji's parents taught her only one strong lesson and that was of helping the needy and not expecting anything in return. Even today she hasn't forgotten this message of her parents and this is the only thing that carries her on in her social en devours of helping the poor and the needy.

Anitha Ji is in such field of work which does not have any commercial returns but involves the support and guidance of her well wishers especially her family. "My husband and both children are very supportive of the work I do and never underestimate the fact that I am trying to bring a change in society and will succeed in doing so. "
But according to her social work  should never be done at the cost of your family because change starts at home first.

Moving toward the end of our beautiful and very inspiring conversation with Anitha Ji, we ask her as to what is the need of the hour, YOUTH EMPOWERMENT or WOMEN EMPOWERMENT. Her answer is very straight forward and practical, "There is no use of either of the one because empowerment of youth and women are both big phrases as none of them is followed closely in a country like India. I feel that the top officials of our country are the ones who exploit the common man specially the middle class society."
(The Iron Lady with the determination to CHANGE)
For Anitha Ji, the actual empowerment should come from within. If such a thing happens then only empowerment of any kind can be achieved. Moral values, facilitating fellow humans, unconditional love should be taught to the people so as to achieve the real empowerment.

Because Mahatma Gandhi rightly said,

Friday, 31 May 2013

One Man With Courage Is A Majority.

In our next news we present before you Sidharth Chopra who is working with TEACH A CHILD NGO.
Sidhharth  a.k.a  Sid, a 19 year old social crusader who is currently pursuing his Bachelors in Sciences (B.Sc.) from GGDSD College, Sector 32, Chandigarh. He has been a part of the NGO from the past 10 months. As a volunteer he teaches under privileged and economically weak students of the society.

Whenever a person indulges in such an endeavor, there is always some kind of influence or inspiration as to why the person wants to do his bit for the development of the society. "For me, it came from within. I was very depressed, devastated and moved on witnessing the plight of these children and how they were able to make both ends meet with so much difficulty."

Since Siddharth is associated with the education system as he teaches these underprivileged kids, we quiz him on how he feels that there could be a possible decline or a rot in our education system. "According to me
we totally can not blame our education system. As compared to other cities Chandigarh still has  better government schools and properly trained teachers. I also feel that sometimes teachers too are responsible and it is not the fault of students only." When it comes to parents Siddharth feels that parents sometimes hold the child so that he is not able to pursue his dreams. In case of poor people parents don't have enough financial resources  so as to support their child's education. "That's why I feel that their is fault of everyone and not just single person."

The movie 3 Idiots was a huge blockbuster because it carried a specific message of chasing your inner dream and fulfilling with excellence. On asking Siddharth that has the youth of today followed this message closely, he replies in a very subtle manner and he feels that the youth today are quite confident that they know everything and they don't need to care about the world. " I agree with the fact that the movie carried a strong message but its real impact has been only on  few people  rather than on much greater audience that it was supposed to."

"Another problem of our youth today  is that they have a very complacent approach to life. It has become a taboo to got to school, after that college, earn a degree etc. etc.

But these people don't realize what they actually want to do in life. So that's why I feel that the youth today should  have a pragmatic approach towards life rather than blatant one."

Forming an NGO is not a child's play, it requires a whole group of determined and grit filled individuals who want to help the society. "When I joined this NGO there were around 15 to 20 members who used to teach the kids. But gradually they lost their interest or got busy with other priorities. Sometimes finding volunteers becomes a challenge for us because most of them think that they are doing a social favor and not really impacting the lives of these children." With this mindset these individuals work for only two three months and after that they leave their NGO just because they feel that they have completed their  social favor." 

Siddharth has been working from the past 10 months and he is determined to continue working with this organisation.
"From the past 19 years I did everything what system demanded but i never had the faith and trust in our system. When I came to know about this initiative, this was the only thing which i have done voluntarily in my life. And I am pleased with the fact that Teach A Child has been instrumental in transforming my life for the better. The kids their are very strong willed and tough and they make me tougher day by day."

Since the youth today are becoming so demanding because their demands are more than their needs. And they don't even realize weather their parents could afford it or not. So keeping this in mind we asked Siddharth about any suggestions or any specific message for the youth brigade today.
"According to me the youth of today should realize the value of each and everything in life. Be it their parents, their career or the most trivial of the things. If they change their mindset, then only the society can change."

Their are many people in this world who want to do something for the society but the only reason why they are not able to do it is because of the fact that they don't have the resources or financial back up. So for Sidharth, we should target such youth, assign them particular tasks and most of all try to sensitize them so that they too can bring a change in the society either by themselves or joining organisations like Teach A Child. 

     (Sidharth, enjoying with one of the students)

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Everyone Is Doing Their Bit. NAV SANKALP Is Also In The Big Race.

Nav Sankalp

Our next news features a student run organisation, Nav Sankalp of  DAV College, Sector 10, Chandigarh. It is a student run charity social organisation formed exclusively by the students of DAV College to help critically ill children who cannot afford their medical expenses.
So we had a conversation with Javika Dhamija, the former Joint Secretary of Nav Sankalp.
"Basically until last year it was just Sankalp, but we thought that we should include new and innovative activities not only for the underprivileged kids but also for the members of the Nav Sankalp." According to her the name Nav Sankalp symbolizes the fact that the overall development and welfare of the members as well as the poor kids is taken care off. Now whenever we talk about such student run organisations there are innumerable number of obstacles in their path of success.

Until last year it was very difficult for the Nav Sankalp students to even ask for permissions to organize their meetings. Says Javika,  "It used to take around five days just to get a permission to have a meeting in a room, because in the previous years, our organisation didn't have much support from the college authorities."

But there are a few teachers, such as Ravinder Choudhary, Rosy Ahluwalia, B.C Josan who have been constantly supporting the en devours of Nav Sankalp.
"Due to such support of the staff of our college and especially under the guidance of Mr. Josan, the college principal, the value of nav Sankalp has increased a lot as compared to previous years," remarks Javika.

On questioning about how is the Nav Sankalp able to help the under privileged kids. Do they follow a systematic plan throughout the year? Or do they concentrate on what is required more? According to Javika, their organisation concentrates on both. "We have specific events and sometimes we also incorporate new innovative activities and events for example, WINTER DRIVE, PUBLIC DONATION DAY, COLLEGE DONATION DAY etc."
Nav Sankalp has a proper schedule about the various set of events they are going to organize.

The organisation was started on 2nd November 2006 by Harpriya Kaur and few other students of the college. With time this organisation gained the interest of the students and soon Nav Sankalp became the club with the most number of volunteers  than any other club or society in the college.

Nav Sankalp is different from other organisations. It is a student initiated  and student run organisation along with the support of the college authorities. It provides a platform to the students to showcase their talent. For  this the Nav Sankalp organizes an annual charity show, 'SPARKLES'  to collect funds which are then donated to PGIMER, Chandigarh to help financially poor children.
Another one of the generous initiatives by the organisation is of  'RAKTH SANCHAR'. Rakth Sanchar is an initiative carried out by Nav Sankalp to ensure blood availability to the one's in need during an emergency.

Moreover Nav Sankalp has direct channels of donation to PGIMER, Chandigarh to ensure proper utilization of funds and to keep a check on fraudulence. On asking as to how are they able to keep a check on red tap-ism so that the funds are properly utilized  Javika says, " We always give the donations via cheque and that too to the chemist and not to the PGIMER authorities, and before any surgery, at-least a week before we prepare a detailed case study related to each and everything about the surgery which is to be performed." Once the detailed information is gathered about the various surgical instruments to be used and what kind of medicines to be given to the patient, then only the surgery is performed. And the Nav Sankalp volunteers are constantly helping and supporting the patient throughout his/her recovery stage. " The fraudulence and red tap-ism doesn't arise since PGIMER already decreases the cost of medical expenses, for the poor people to a great extent."

Nav Sankalp recently organised a flash mob, in the heart of Chandigarh, Sector 17, to protest against the delhi gang rape case.

So snapping out of the Nav Sankalp mode, we asked javika about what she feels regarding the increasing crime rates against women. "I feel that the current phase is the ERA OF THE WOMEN, THE ERA OF WOMEN EMPOWERMENT . The people who indulge in rape, molestation, eve teasing etc clearly portray that they lack the BASIC MORAL EDUCATION WHICH IS RESPECTING WOMEN. Such people have that kind of cheap mindset and that is why they consider and treat women like any other commodity or object."
Javika herself is a strong person and has asked and pleaded to all the women that everyone need to be strong. We cannot just stand and be complacent of the fact that heinous crimes are committed against women.

So in the end on behalf of the whole Nav Sankalp team, Javika Dhamija has one strong message for everyone, "Let us not stereotype women that they are to be confined to the four walls of the house, please broaden your mins and change the way you see things. And then only the country can be changed."
So keeping this in mind, let us first try to mature and develop our mindset and work towards the betterment of the society.

Thursday, 16 May 2013


(Mr Vinod Azad who was a hope to many underprivileged kids, left for heavenly abode on 26 July, 2013, nearly two months after this interview. Being a passionate dancer and a gem of a person, he was an inspiration to many. Mr Azad may have left us in person but your spirit and passion will keep powering our mission forward.)

Someone very rightly said, "Dancing is similar to the foot as poetry is to the mind." So our next interview features a contributor who contributes to the society in the form of a diverse form like Dance. The man is Vinod Azad, who for the past six years has been teaching various forms of dance, free of cost to the under privileged kids belonging to slum areas, at the Government Model School, Sector 24, Chandigarh.
So here is the interview with the well known dancer of the tricity (Chandigarh, Punchkula, Mohali), Vinod Azad:

  •  What is your background and where do you come from?  How did the passion for dance arise in you in the first place?

I originally belong to Uttar Pradesh but was born and brought up in Chandigarh.I completed my graduation from Panjab University, Chandigarh. My interest in dance grew right from  my childhood days.
I really enjoyed dancing at marriage functions and parties.Once during a marriage function, a friend of mine was impressed by my dance moves that she offered me an invitation to join her dance group.So i joined her group so as to pursue dance as just a hobby. Because initially i did not think of turning dance into a profession.But as my association with the dance troupe increased , i thought of taking up dance seriously.
So after spending some months with the troupe,i went to Delhi for a formal training in dance.

  • With such a busy schedule how do you manage to take out time and teach these kids the diverse form of dance?
The question is not about how I manage to find time but how I manage time to teach these kids the right things. Because teaching dance is not about finding time but it is a part of my life and it has become a routine to teach these kids the various forms of dance. Also I feel that it is my moral duty to teach the kids ethical values through dance. I agree that I am not receiving any material benefits through this but the satisfaction, that these kids are giving their 100 percent, is what matters to me.

  • As compared to other art forms a dance is a heavily paid form of art. But you still teach these kids free of cost. Why?
Even though we proudly proclaim that we live in a mordenist 21st century but still there are prejudices against people from the lower strata of society. According to me our society dose not value the people belonging to the slum areas. And  because of this discrimination these people loose their path and turn to other activites like snatching, murder, kidnapping and especially drug addiction. So to keep their minds away from these evils, I teach them dance regularly. Thus, I am doing my bit to turn these individuals into better citizens of the society and that they are  not led astray.
                 (Vinod Azad with his students at the Government school, sector 24)

  • According to you what moral values is build up in children through dance? 
First and foremost discipline is the very thing they learn from dance. That is,  how to lead a peaceful life and not squander into inappropriate things. Dance is a form where co-ordination is one of the most important factors to achieve perfection, so that's why it teaches the students to learn the ethical value of co-ordination and chemistry not only in dance but also in their lives. A far as the physical fitness of the students is concerned dance involves many types of exercises which stimulates the fitness levels of the students to a whole new level. Also there are many theme  based performances which make the dancers aware about the various social issues prevalent in the society.

  • Parents view dance more of a extra curricular activity, it is placed after studies. What are you views.?
In my point of view education is an essential foundation to a man's character. The view of dance as an extra curricular activity is slowly changing. Dance now- a- days is a very lucrative profession  guaranteeing multiple opportunities in the field of performance arts. The view point of parents now should be to encourage their child towards any endeavor in which the child finds happiness.

                                       (Vinod Azad during his training sessions)

  •    Headlines these days are bounded by news of rapes, unemployment, murders etc. Amongst such negativity, people like you stay positive. What do you think? Can an individual bring in a change in the society?
Of course an individual can bring in a change. We at our respective places should take up reforms to bring in a change individually, seeing this our upcoming generations will be motivated to work for development of our society.  

  •   If u get a chance to take up one action for the very development of our society, and reduce all such negativity,  what would that be?
According to me youths are the future of our country. They should be sensitized to respect women, be good to fellow citizens, and work for our nation. According to me empowerment of youth of our nation would be the essential  movement i would take up.

  • Who are the people who assist you to stay positive?
My most important motivator would be my guide and mentor Mr. Zulfihar Khan. My parents, my wife and my two year old son has been my backbone all these years. Whenever I get free time, I try to spend time with them, it helps me to beat the stress of my work and return back with double energy and enthusiasm.
(Just another day at work)

Monday, 6 May 2013

The A- Team of Literacy. Doing their bit for the society.

Our 3rd interview was with a group of student crusaders who belong to NIT, Hamirpur. Their group is called The Literacy Mission and they hold their annual cultural fundraising  event under the name of  PRAYAS which in English means "to help and to strive for change in society". So here we present before you our interview with the whole team of The Literacy Mission.

                                                               The Literacy Mission Team


  • Why Prayas? Why did the idea of forming an organisation like Literacy Mission came into your mind in the first place?
Well...initially there was no such idea. But back in 2004, while some of the college students were going to library, some of the kids approached them and asked certain doubts they had about how the things actually work in this big world. The students were astonished to hear such a question from kids, that too belonging to families who hardly cared about how the Earth rotates or why do the stars twinkle. At that point they experienced that these kids too have zeal to learn and grow and all they need is a little bit of guidance, care and love. This was what you can call THE START or the INITIAL PHASE of The Literacy Mission. As time passed on, the efforts of a few students turned into a big organisation and people began to recognize that someone should help and facilitate them. And the rest as they call it, is history.

  • In such a kind of venture or such a kind of social activity, there is always some kind of struggle and criticism involved? How were you (The Literacy Mission members) able to overcome it?
As the saying goes "NO PAIN , NO GAIN", we too had to face certain difficulties and obstacles in our path so as at to achieve what we wanted to achieve. Although we didn't face any criticism but at the initial stage we had to struggle a bit for our existence, moreover it was difficult to reach out to so many families of the underprivileged and to convince them that education is one of the biggest necessities of life. And that they should provide this basic necessity to their children. Many a times we had to face financial hitches but with the never ending support of our college authorities and students and lets not forget the hard work and dedication put in by the Literacy Mission volunteers, all the difficulties were left behind and the going was smoother.
                                                     The Literacy Mission Volunteers

  • Over the past few years, you  have shown your full commitment and dedication to the organisation. But has this hard work been both sided? Are the kids also working hard and what are the achievements you have got in this field?  
Yes, we can assure you that the kids too are working real hard to achieve their goals. Whatever has been achieved till date is only because of the commitment and willingness of the kids to do something substantial in their lives. Also let us make it clear that those kids who couldn't make it to JNV or couldn't achieve anything exceptional, too are working with equal sincerity to excel in their regular class work and to secure better marks in their school examinations. But since you asked for our achievements, here are a few notable mentions:

  1. Joshi Sureen, a student hailing from the underprivileged society cracked AIEEE'09 and is presently a student of Bio-Informatics Engineering at MANIT, Bhopal.
  2. Another student, Mr. Bhupendra has cleared Air Force exam
  3. Two students, Ritu and Pankaj have successfully completed their diploma with Ritu securing the first rank at her ITI college.
  4. Chandan, another of our students, secured 86.4% in his Class 10th Board examinations.
  5. Lalita topped class 5th Regional Board examinations with 95.5% (HIGHEST among the eight schools of the district)
  6. All children have been made computer literate and are being regularly taught the basics of computer communications.
  7. Literacy Mission also provides medical aid to kids who are in need. A kid, Prince, successfully underwent a cardiac surgery at Escort Hospital, New Delhi with the kind support of  The Rotary Club, Hamirpur. Another 4 year old girl named Arpita had been suffering from multiple cysts in her kidney, she got operated at PGIMER, Chandigarh.
  8. Seeing the tremendous performsnce, some of our bright students are admitted to a private school, Gurukul Public School, Hamirpur.

                       A Literacy Mission student receiving a prize during the Children's Day celebrations.

  • Apart from organizing Prayas, what other activities and events does The Literacy Mission organizes?
Apart from organizing  PRAYAS, we teach the kids 6 days a week from 4:45 p.m. to 6:15 p.m. in one of our college buildings. We celebrate various festivals like Holi, Diwali, Independence Day and many others in order to inculcate in them the basic sense of society, equality, nationalism and moral values  Also the kids are provided with some sought of refreshment 2 days a week, their school fees is paid from the funds collected by The Literacy Mission, they are provided with books, note books and other stationary items they need. The kids are also taught Yoga everyday in the morning from 6:30 a.m. to 7:15 a.m. and are also taken to college ground every Sunday morning to involve them in various sports activities.

                                                                     Diwali celebrations.
In addition to that, we arrange Health Camps for kids with support of local medical authorities and their parents. We collect old clothes from the faculty and college students and distribute them among the families residing in Basti. We also pay regular visits to Basti so as to motivate families to send their kids to school and to look after them.

  • Talking in general terms, how can organisations like yours help underprivileged kids in the long run?
Our basic motive is to give these kids a belief that they can attain what they want to and realize their dreams in the best possible manner. These are provided with an initial push using which they can flourish on their own. Apart from that, education helps in maturing their thought process so that they can have a better understanding of the society and can become a better citizen of this nation. Obviously, we cannot stay forever with them, but what we do is, show them a basic path u[on which they can walk on their own and all these years  these kids have been successfully doing that.

  • Last but not the least, what measures do you suggest to bring a solid change in the society and not a fluid form of change?
Citizens are the basic building blocks of any society. Many great men have said that for a society to prosper, it should have citizens with a sense of responsibility toward the group as you know, children are the future of any civilization. So what we are trying to do is to strengthen these elementary constituents of our society so that we can have a better world for us. Hopefully we would be able to do so and achieve what you say would be solid form of change in the society.

                          The Literacy Mission students with our former President A.P.J. Abul Kalam

Tuesday, 19 February 2013


All of 21, Sushant Sharma is the next "celebrity" we have featured on our blog. Yes! Indeed a celebrity, a social entrepreneur, a Radio jockey, an actor, a crooner, a great Video jockey and someone who wants to bring change in the society with his initiative YOUTH BRIGADE- Youth With A Difference

Presently he is pursuing his English Honors from DAV College, sector 10, Chandigarh. He is that sort of a person who wants to sensitize people in making correct choices and make them understand that what they are doing is correct.

Our first question was a basic one. He replies with a very straight forward answer, that change is a necessity of life. Our thought process needs to evolve, we just cannot set back and watch things take their own course. there has to be a transition even though its gradual but it has to be there. He gives the example of NAV-SANKALP, the social organisation of his college, DAV College, Chandigarh. He states that, "Last year the NAV-SANKALP people just had Rs. 20,000 as their budget but now this year their budget is Rs. 60,000, and that has happened because of the change and the transition. According to Sushant, change is necessary as well as mandatory to sensitize people and make them aware.

Putting it in normal layman terms, Sushant says that, 'YOUTH BRIGADE' is a platform to bring local superheroes on board. YOUTH BRIGADE makes its own superstars and these stars are just some local people in the crowd BUT with  a passion to follow, a change to strive for a vision to bring a transition. YOUTH BRIGADE brings these very stars who follow their interests and turn their passion into profession.
Youth Brigade features such people at our doorstep, they feature the best of the youth in the weekly Youtube series.

(9th Episode "Youth Brigade" Youth With A Difference featuring Angad Cheema)

Not just episodes, 'Youth Brigade- Youth With A Difference' also organizes several social events throughout the year some of the major highlights are:-

1) CLEANER GEHRI ROUTE HAS CLEANER HEARTS. - a cleanliness drive launched under the initiative of Youth Brigade, to clean up the garbage on the "so called" porsche areas of Chandigarh, (popularly called THE GEHRI ROUTE)

2) YOUTH CONCLAVE- A platform to discuss, express, debate and come up with solutions. the people FEATURED in the episodes of Youth Brigade interacted with the people NOT FEATURED on the episodes.
that's why Youth Brigade showcase those who are different and those who strive for a change.

And a few more and still counting.....
You can watch all the other episodes of Youth Brigade on the YOUTUBE channel INFOTAINMENT.
And you can also follow Youth Brigade's Facebook page for further inputs and events.

Criticism is a part and parcel of anybody's life who is following his heart and following his passion. And it always
starts with your own home ground, your parents, your family.
Sushant says that your parents will always ask only two questions whenever you tell them about what you love and that you want to pursue it :
Every passionate individual has to face this circumstance in his/her life at some point or the other. Sushant suggests that we should just keep going and do what we love. One day people will understand. You have to prove yourself first. You have to always keep your interest and passion intact.
When Sushant first started Radio Jockeying, he had to face a lot of criticism and many ups and downs but gradually his work started speaking itself and people started realizing that if you love anything and do that with dedication, then it is not just work, it becomes much more than that. IT'S YOUR LIFE.

Sushant expects a LIBERAL ATTITUDE from the people especially the youth. An attitude which helps them to make correct decisions.
If the same youth can stand up for Anna Hazare and if the same youth can go to Delhi and protest against Damini's brutal rape, then definitely people understand that their mindsets change only when such situations trigger their souls. Why cannot it be like this all the time and why wait for such instances. Sushant chips in by saying that what needs to be done is similar to moral policing and sensitization of the society. He states that during the Cleanliness Drive, the volunteers who had turned up were cleaning and picking up garbage so whole-heartily and with great dedication. That he felt, as if, for one day, they truly have developed themselves to become proper mature adults understanding the responsibility we have as citizens of a country like India. And that one day has to be turned into a whole lifetime dedicated to your passion and bring about a radical change in the society.

"HAMESHA BHELPURI BANAO." Always make a mixed dish and not just any simple dish.
 Having the correct type of company is circumstantial because art is different from logic. In pragmatism 2+2 = 4, but in creativity 2+2 = 5 or 6. So Sushant tells that people with like minded interests, creative ideas should be together. Because at the end of the day you will have an edge as so many different perspective and views will be in your mind. And artists not only discuss their interests but also issues related to society, politics, economy, sports, movie masala and everything else.
At the age of 17, Sushant had a vision of such a program and this type of a platform. So he started being with those people whom he thought are the local superheroes of the local crowd and are passionate about what they do in their own different outlooks.

He give a very practical answer replying in the affirmative. Yes, we are democratic in making our choices but sometimes we take these choices for granted and don't concentrate on the fact that whether these choices are correct or wrong. According to him, whenever we feel that we are doing wrong, we should stop right there and then. There is no harm in backing out from a thing which is deemed to take a wrong turn.
There has to be liberty among the individuals also, both personal and social. Then only we can call ourselves proud Indians. But he feels amazingly blessed to have been born in a country like India where every 15 kilometers diversification of cultures takes place. Languages change. Attire changes.
To have a better country you need to have better individuals. For example during college elections, for gaining maximum support, party leaders send chocolates, sweets, movie tickets etc to girls dorm rooms. But in the end if they don't turn up for voting then all that promotion goes into a waste. Thus for a change you have to vote and strive for it.
We are truly democratic till that point when we have the right knowledge and right education. If we know about our fundamental rights and duties and when and how to exercise them, then we can call ourselves true patriots.

Sushant answers it by turning this question into another question. He asks, what are we actually sad about, the Damini  rape case or that, this was really a heinous form of crime. Because if its just rape then rapes occur everyday throughout the country. Why not protest against them also? Or that it was really a torture of worst form against women. Then why just going to Delhi and protesting make a difference. Raise a voice against the fiend so that stringent laws can be passed.
We have to understand our demeaning social structure because the problem is not with a girl wearing inappropriate clothes, the problem is with our mindset. How we see it?
This is the point where the aspect of awareness and sensitizing the youth comes into the picture. We have to make them aware and that can only be done by tackling the situation from the grass root level. According to Sushant being emotional and being sensitive are two different things. We have to be sensitive about the issue, lets not take it to an emotional level.
So he come back again on the same measure that what needs to be done is sensitization of the people and making them aware about the correct knowledge and how to grasp it.

"WORD OF MOUTH''- Yes this is the reason for the success of Sushant Sharma's Youth Brigade. All of these events are ZERO BUDGET  initiatives. There are no sponsors. He arranges for the funds himself and that in itself is indeed a legendary thing to do. What he says that, if few people think that they have been benefited with his initiatives and his works then with mouth publicity, his cause can reach a whole new level of reputation.
And he says,
                          "BEKHYAALI JAATE  JAATE  AAEGI
                           AUR AKAL AATE AATE AAEGI"
He again stresses on the fact that change is gradual but when it hits you, it hits you hard and then we realize our responsibilities as an individual and as citizens of a diverse county like India. Because,

Sushant says that he is not any law maker or someone in the police or judiciary. He is just a normal guy doing his normal work. there are many organisations and individuals that are working towards striving for change. He also agrees with this fact, all want to help the society in one way or the other.
Therefore he suggests that, our choices have to be legitimate and we should not just gain knowledge but we should gain the right amount and kind of knowledge. There also has to be an effort in each and every kind of task we perform because we are young, the youth, we have so much heat in ourselves. If we think carefully and act accordingly then definitely we can also be YOUTH WITH A DIFFERENCE.


(Youth Brigade interactive session at CAFE OYE)

Saturday, 2 February 2013


Our first interview was with Amandeep Kaur of chandigarh.
Amandeep Kaur did her schooling from Carmel Convent School, sector 9, Chandigarh.
She then passed out from Chitkara University with a bachelors degree in Engineering, Computer Science in 2012.
She presently got placed at Patni Computers, and she will join her work from this month.She's been working with an NGO Tamanna, for the past two years.
So here's a conversation with Amandeep Kaur about the society, her contribution, her social work and about the incidents of rape, murder, eve teasing and other increasing crimes against women.

Amandeep teaches girls at the GURU ASRA TRUST, Sector 55, Chandigarh.
She voluntarily and at her own will teaches the inmates, there English, she also helps the inmates, the girls, out with their day to day problems and helps them to come out with feasible solutions.
She also spends a lot of time with the girls and keeps a check to make sure that they have cleaned their rooms.She also sometimes joins them in cooking.
Though she is not professionally qualified to be a teacher she shares everything with the girls what she learnt during her school days.
In short in some way or the other , she is helping the GURU ASRA trust girls  to develop themselves physically, emotionally and mentally.

She wants her students to converse or try to converse in English with each other and with her, as much as possible. For instance, she has worked on students' grammar and especially tenses (past, present etc), and on Saturdays , they have general open honest discussions about how much they love her class and do they really enjoy being their teacher.
Amandeep also very eagerly told us about one of her classes. One day, she had asked her students to write atleast one sentence each in Punjabi and then she would write it in English and then they would read it together. so like this they ended up learning and doing "87" sentences that day. Indeed a great thing.
Just imagine how much, those kids would have learned that day.

Amandeep has been working with  NGO Tammana for the past two years. Tammana the NGO had adopted the GURU ASRA trust place. Amandeep used to visit GURU ASRA to spend time with the girls and also to take part in the different programmes and occasions organised by the NGO, for example Holi celebrations, Christmas functions etc.
Amandeep understood that these kids were shy, introvert and lacked a sense of confidence to a great extent. So thats when she decided to help the girls with their speaking skills and improve their English. Thats why she told her NGO president about her decision to take up this task of teching the children.
And that was the beginning of her wonderful journey, a journey filled with love for children, doing social work and being connected with whatever good you are doing.

                                  Amandeep (center) with the inmates at GURU ASRA.

Amandeep from the beginning wanted her students to open up and talk a little. She wanted them to speak up for the things the children needed. And her main aim was to make the children understand what life is and how to be self confident and be brave.
This is the reason, she shared her students' problems with her and accepted them as her own and provided very interesting solutions to those manacles.

Yes, indeed she was interested in helping others from a young age. Her Convent education and Moral Science classes even further helped her to make a taste in social work.
She wanted to do this in a proper systematic way, thats why she wanted to join some NGO or some social and charitable organisation.
She says, "That i needed a medium to work and help the people because I was interested in social work, and that medium I got through NGO Tammana.

Amandeep found this question a bit tough though, but as they say, "PASSION KNOWS NO BOUNDARIES. PASSION KNOWS NO LIMITS..!! "
So there was no stopping her. Amandeep is a religious person, she believes in the God and the Almighty. She feels blessed by God in many ways because she has everything as compared with the lives of the inmates at GURU ASRA.
According to her, she dosen't believe in giving money or donation to the Gurudwara, however she rather does social work and helps those children because that is how she is thanking and serving the Lord and making him happy.
Such is her passion and dedication to do social work and help underprivileged kids that she wants to continue it even after she has been placed in her job.
Indeed a great lady.!

She gives a straight forward answer to this question. According to her, the guy or any other such person who is doing such an immoral act or who is conducting the crime against women is solely responsible. She says if the person can have such a cheap mindset, then how will it be a girl's fault if she is wearing short clothes.
its because of lack of moral values and education and respect for women that the man commits such a crime.
Amandeep also says that if the persons's family background is such, that is they have instilled in the man all moral values and taught him to respect the women, then why would he commit such a crime.?
Agreeing strongly with Amandeep, two or three people cannot stop this single handedly and change the mentality of people. We all need to stand up and work towards bringing a solid change in the society together.

She just practically and blatantly says "NO". To this answer, we were shocked and sad at the same time. She just gives a simple reason, that reading and seeing about the various crimes, and increasing crime rates against women on TV, newspaper  etc, she has lost faith in her fellow beings. what a pity.!
A girl is scared of her own fellow Indians. This is a thing not to be proud of, this is a thing to feel ashamed for.!

She states that though she hasn't experienced  anything like eve teasing or other crimes against women personally, but she still feels that equality levels have been on a decrease as compared to what we very proudly preach about equality.
According to her, men still get a upper hand and will continue to get the upper hand if no measures are taken to help the plight of women in our country.

The first reason she gives or the first measure she suggests is that upliftment of the poor people and the underpriviledged could definitely bring a strong change in the society, because the majority of the population in our country is poor and they are the backbone of our nation.
We have to make them understand what is wrong and right for them and then we can definitely contribute our bit to the society.