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dna young turks: A societal affair

Saturday, 3 May 2014 - 7:18pm IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

The need for social change is one that these four Mumbai residents have owned, crawling up the steep learning curve that philanthropy exhibits today Step away, Ambanis. Move over, Ratan Tata. It turns out that emerging economies such as India are growing some philanthropic colossi of their own. Is it because of the genesis of a class of elitists leading to a rise in private and family-led foundations? Or is it a reaction to now restricted to north-south aid fluxes? The India Philanthropy Report 2014 puts forth the need for coordinated responses and multi-sector participation in the large-scale social issues that plague the country. And while it is said that India has made significant advancements in strategic investments across sectors in dire need of financial and logistical help, the 2012 TrustLaw survey conducted by the Thomson Reuters Foundation points out that India is placed at the bottom of the ladder when it comes to gender equality promotion and women's access to healthcare. Fortunately, the Mumbai youth is not keeping mum. Youngsters here are successfully amalgamating their innate language for business along with an innovative mindset. And their thoughtful and entrepreneurial cross-over initiatives feeds into the schism where non-profits rely on funds from older generations while using the service of the youth. Their investment, they believe, is towards societal betterment with the help of their well-educated and well-paid networks.

social work
Shweta Katti
: 19 yrs.
'Giving back to society' is often uttered but seldom followed through. Leave aside the politically-sensitive programmes, it is time to believe certain Mumbaikars, and engage in human rights and social justice with little or nothing in return, by providing to the interlocking needs vocalised by the communities.

Hitting close to home
Shweta Katti is a Grant Road resident who lives above a brothel and having an abusive and alcoholic father motivated her to join hands with Kranti, a Mumbai-based NGO working towards empowering girls from red-light areas to become agents for social change. Katti, featured by Newsweek as one of the 25 under 25 women to look out for, has given motivational talks in Nepal and tribal areas of Jharkand and in over eight conferences worldwide. Now the holder of a scholarship from Bard College in New York, Katti plans on becoming a counsellor in a clinic she wants to establish in the red-light district she grew up in.

Law & order
Bhushan Burade
: 30 yrs.
Rape, murder and corruption in India: these words have been splashed across front pages for light years now and yet the Indian Law and Order
Commission that has been passed by Congress seems to have had no effect on the community. Leave aside the corruption allegations slung on the higher-ups, say the youth, for their assiduous work now might just do the trick.

Fighting the status quo
Bhushan Burade is an assistant police inspector, currently part of the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad whose team of commandos won second place in the All India Level Commando Championship held in January this year. Burade's bravado has led him to being a member of the elite counter-terrorism unit Force One in Mumbai since its inception, given the firing, tactical drills and urban terrorism operation skills he was commended for.

Social entrepreneurship
Varun Sheth
: 26 yrs.
The dichotomised concept of social contribution-meets-profitability is one that might be blurry for many. However, social entrepreneurship is a new-age concept that helps to identify social issues and provide sustainable solutions to them. Their profit is said to rely in social value more than any other form of remuneration.

Give and take
Varun Sheth is the brainpower behind ketto.org, an online crowd-funding platform that helps internet users donate money to a plethora of non-governmental organisations and individuals looking for funding. Sheth believes that his portal emulates a supermarket for donating, all at the click of a button, making the act of giving more efficient, direct, safer and easier. Active since 2012, ketto.org has received $120,000 of grant from Google India and relies on Digital Hathi to manage their online activity. ketto.org encompasses an exhaustive database of non-profit and non-governmental organisations across the country as well as across categories. Sheth, who joined hands with Bollywood actor Kunal Kapoor for his venture, prides himself on having led the campaign to send Shiva Keshavan to the 2014 Winter Olympics to compete in the luge race. His value-added proposition is simple: leverage the internet to utilise it as an efficient charity space.

Anish Vyavahare
: 27 yrs.
The latest UNESCO report suggests that over 90 per cent of children from low socio-economic backgrounds are illiterate in the country, after four years of school. Governmental reallocations and philanthropic funnelling are said to be on the rise in the educational sector and yet, just a few twentysomethings are managing to puzzle out the right way forward.

When the teacher becomes the master
Anish Vyavahare's dream for a better and educated India comes with a more hands-on approach: this psychology major makes college rounds motivating students on the empowerment of education and the importance of writing. He is the founder of shikshapower.com, an educational website that aims to go beyond academics. Vyavarahe is also the author of Mumbai on The Footboard, a seven-storied fictional book on the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks. His focus is on students understanding the true potential of education and how it helps to shed light on larger social issues as well as decipher solutions to them.

Good exposure
"A lot of young people are getting exposure in the field they have chosen to work in. I'm one of those who started early, but I know people today who have achieved a lot simply by the exposure they have or even the availability of resources, like photography equipment."
Anand Pendharkar, Director, Sprouts

EQ needs some work
"Quality, safety and security are present in the child education landscape.
Accountability for learning is now the onus of pre-schools. More young people are now entering this domain, which is both good and bad. Good because they come with fresh outlook and research-based mindsets. Bad because sometimes they lack maturity. IQ is great, their EQ needs some work."
Swati Popat Vats, President Podar Educaton Network

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