The Tale of Humankind has selected 15 young changemakers from across India for the first edition of its Changemaker Awards. The initiative’s aim is to acknowledge & applaud the efforts of young changemakers who are going above & beyond to sustain a positive change in the community & work to make this world a better place to live for everyone. Be it Steve Jobs and Malala Yousafzai, or Thomas Edison and Martin Luther King Jr, outliers have proved time and again that it pays to think differently and challenge the status quo. “In a world that keeps telling almost every young person, ‘you can’t’, it’s critical to have a flow of stories and role models that show ‘you can’, and that provide an array of ideas and methods.
Aniket Gupta, Co-Founder of The Tale of Humankind says “The efforts of the young changemakers to change mindsets and behavior of society towards positive change is an inspiration to our country’s youth. We need to support young changemakers like these and also share their stories widely to help every teenager see this emerging need for a changemaker mindset and skillset in order to strive in our exponentially changing world.” Coming from diverse backgrounds, 15 young people, going above and beyond in their daily life to create and sustain positive change, are recognized with The Changemaker Awards 2022.
This carefully selected cohort of young changemakers is changing the definition of ‘success’ for young people in an exponentially changing world. So, who are these Indian changemakers driving social change? The 15 young changemakers shortlisted from India, comes from a diverse background – Aditya Dubey, Akarsh Shroff, Aripina Jayalakshmi, Deepanjali Sahu, Manan Sharma, Naman Sonpar, Kavya Gupta, Namya Joshi, Priyaswara Bharti, Rishabh Singh, Rishikesh Amit Nayak, Saleha Khan, Shailendra Singh, Sia Godika, Siya Tayal — have come up with great initiatives that are spearheading change in the social sector.
Having already identified the problems, built teams, and created positive change in their communities, these young changemakers are best positioned to steer the movement to spread the culture of changemaking and to reimagine how we define ‘success’ for individuals, communities, and countries.
Here is an account of seven of these changemakers who are doing their bit to address various issues, be it in the environment, gender, health, education, child rights, agriculture, arts & culture, and animal rights among others, through their initiatives.
1. Akarsh Shroff (21), Bengaluru Aakarsh started Yuva SPARK to utilize the power of social media to activate young people as ‘impact makers.’ Through his micro-influencer marketing strategy, Akarsh and his co-founder have built a team of more than 300 volunteers and have managed to impact the lives of more than 450 children living in orphanages and other under-resourced settings. Yuva SPARK now has several youth-led projects that focus on academic mentoring to orphans, language and communication skills, and leadership development.
2. Kavya Gupta (18), Kanpur With the experience of volunteering for a river cleaning drive, Kavya realized the need for environmental education to be more experiential and focussed on mindset, and not just on bookish concepts. He started Bhavishya Foundation that creates these learning journeys by continuously engaging young people in various activities like tree plantations. With a team of 12 members and more than 50 volunteers, they have taught more than 2000 children to date and planted nearly 3000 saplings through plantation drives in Uttar Pradesh.
3. Namya Joshi (14), Ludhiana Namya believes that technology can be used to benefit mankind, but it wasn’t until she started playing the computer-based game Minecraft she realized how tech can be a powerful tool for learning. She built and delivered her Minecraft-based lesson on Egyptian civilization, instantly seeing how interested the children were. Namya has now trained more than 10,000 teachers and students on how Minecraft can be used in education. Namya has been praised for her ‘entrepreneurial spirit’ and her ability to ‘step into other people’s shoes’ as with her motto #EachOneTeachTen she shares her message of gaming for good.
4. Priyaswara Bharti (19), Patna Hailing from Bihar, Priyaswara witnessed social evils like child marriage, honor killing, dowry practice, domestic violence, and female infanticide in her community. Inspired to bring a change, she founded BYCR (Bihar Youth for Child Rights) with her core team of 5 members. BYCR creates awareness and advocates child rights by conducting events via online and offline mediums. Since 2013, Priyaswara has been collaborating with UNICEF and other organizations and has activated 60+ child rights advocates in various communities.
5. Rishikesh Amit Nayak (19), Bhubhaneshwar To deal with pests and microbial attacks, ‘Kishan Know’ is a project through which Rishikesh created a low-cost, sustainable, and farmer-friendly product that is very helpful in detecting unforeseeable crop damage. All types of farmers can use this cost-effective product easily as it requires no basic education or complex usage guidelines. The device’s IoT technology and AI-based model help recognize microbial attacks in just 12hrs. It also detects exactly which area of the farm is affected along with the pesticide solution. This device ascertains the microbes and pests at the premature phase, curbing their growth and boosting crop production efficiently.
6. Shailendra Singh (21), Rajasthan 21-year-old Shailendra Singh’s soft nature makes it hard to believe that he is an active and child rights crusader. The extremely mild-mannered boy, hailing from Bijalpura village in Rajasthan, is a young lad who has prevented five marriages in his village besides rescuing 33 children from child laborers. Shailendra is well-versed with the admission process and keeps constant contact with the principal and teachers in every school in his area. He conducts awareness campaigns with Children Groups wherein he enumerates and lists down out-of-school children and helps in enrolling them back to school. He has also raised his voice against corporal punishment in schools and has counseled several teachers on it.
7. Sia Godika (14), Bangalore At the age of 13, Sia was deeply disturbed by the situation of some people in her neighborhood who were living without any footwear. She noticed adults and children with bruised and swollen feet, construction laborers, families, and street vendors, all working barefoot in hazardous conditions. Inspired by the statistic that 350 million pairs of footwear are discarded annually, she launched ‘Sole Warriors’, nonprofit collecting footwear from privileged communities and donating them to those in need. Over the past 18 months, they collected over 15,000 pairs from 4,000 households through a network of 50 volunteers and eight supporting organizations, with the ultimate aim to reach one million feet.