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Not having a mentor, I studied on my own and I had the power of the Internet

Kunal Soni 2

I had always been fond of computers. I started programming in class 8th. My school teachers taught me only the stuff that was to be asked in school exams, nothing of the box so I used to read books to gain knowledge. My doubts were always doubts as I had no mentors to guide me. I kept going, I developed my first website at the end of class 8th.Then I was introduced to the INTERNET, which then changed everything. It was like I had found a mentor who can now clear all my doubts. I published my first website in the summer holidays of class 9th. Subsequently, I started learning more programming languages as my interest was in it.

Once I went to our district Govt. Engineering College, where I met the professor of Computer Science. I asked him to teach me programming. He first interviewed me and hence agreed to teach me C++. I learned the language in the college, despite being a school student.

After class 10th, everybody started telling me that what I was doing is non-sense and at this age I am supposed to be focusing on my school like every other child of my age and stop this programming. I resisted this fact, not because I hated school studies, but because I didn’t wanted to be like everyone else around me, I wanted a separate identity for myself which could differentiate me from other children of my age group. I have always wanted to work on waste management systems. I met people who could partially guide me but no was able to completely guide me in my programming field.

Not having any mentor, I continued studying on my own, but now I was powered by the internet. Then I opted for further study in web development field, bought some online courses, referred to documentations and learnt all the languages of full stack.

Currently I am a full-stack web developer. I have contributed to the Google Assistant code and got shortlisted as the only ‘school-kid’ from all over India to participate in the final round of Hack-a-Bit, held at BIT, Ranchi.

Kunal Soni
Delegate, YIC IIT Delhi 2019

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Tinkering with robotics, I have built some projects which have been helpful in solving real-world problems

Harshil AnandI started my journey at the age of 14 when I was eagerly interested to dig deeper into the field of robotics science. Currently I’m 17, pursuing my 12th grade with PCM+CS. I have  co-founded a deeptech company focused on B2B aswell as B2C model. We have been into the R&D sector as well as providing web & AI services contributing our part in automating businesses of this era. We have a roadmap to launch series of ventures under Vicube and SmarTee(building the next generation of healthtech wearables) is the first subsidiary part of it with another automated web dev. firm under process.

It’s been almost 3 years tinkering with robotics stuff and drones and I have built some amazing projects which have been helpful in solving real-world problems – a natural disaster rescue drone which took me to the finals of YOUNG SCIENTIST INDIA 2017, AI enabled edu chatbots, home cleaning robots etc. I started freelancing when I was 15 to fund my own projects which has taught me some important money valuation aspects at a younger age. I’m currently researching on wearable technologies in the health domain under SmarTee and our first product will be reaching market by this year.

Always curious and interested into computing applications and my brother was as a source of inspiration for me as he was a kind of tech savvy guy and loved doing electronics projects. On my first visit to IIT Delhi I developed a spark to build robots. I teamed up with 3 of my friends and  participated in their annual tech-fest. I saw drones there for the very first time in my life which made me to tinker with drones and UAV’s in the future years.

Yes, I was so fascinated by these flying robots that made me to learn about the different aspects of it. I met a guy who was running a robotics school in my city who helped me so much in my journey by providing me with costly drones to learn, and other stuff to help me out. My project Medibot got selected for the finale of Young Scientist India 2017 in the aeromodelling category. This was a drone to help out trapped refugees at the time of natural disasters to provide medical supplies, ultimately make a huge cost cut as it was done by helicopters.

Before all this I was a kind of guy who used to be involved into some unwanted bad habits during my 6th-7th class period, used abusing languages in school, not a good scorer and had a toxic kind of life.

Instantly after being one of the winners at Bihar startup conclave, we got a huge media attention and featured in renowned media newspapers in various cities pan india, social blogs, writeups and got invited to radioshows. This was the time when I could tell that I actually made my parents proud. My father was sharing all those articles to their groups and mom was being called up by my name.

Harshil Anand
Delegate, YIC IIT Delhi 2019

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You’re not alone! Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. You just have to reach out.

Raashi Thakran

Raashi Thakran

My name is Raashi Thakran and I am currently based in Pune.

I was born in Dehradun into a military home. So, we were moving a lot due to my father’s profession. I’ve always loved meeting new people and experiencing new places. I’ve always had a very close relationship with my family and especially my little brother. We’ve had our fights and differences but they’ve made me who I am.

This year, on 6th January I lost my little brother to suicide.

He was only 18 years old.

It was very sudden, shocking and happened when we least expected it. It was the darkest phase of my life. I was lost and scared. Confused, angry and lonely. I spent months trying to get an answer to this one question – Why? I was suffering from crippling anxiety and insomnia.

One day, I stumbled upon an email from Change.org regarding a one-year long fellowship. I decided to apply and got selected. This was the beginning of my journey as a mental health advocate. I finally found a purpose and at the same time, I decided to get professional help for myself because there is no shame in it.

I have started a petition on Change.org asking the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to launch a national helpline number for suicide prevention in India. It has received more than 1.8 lac signatures till date and there has been an out pour of support.
We had a meeting with the Health Advisor of Niti Aayog regarding my campaign and they are very interested in taking this forward.
I have collaborated with various organisations i.e NNDC-IF, SPIF, Teach For India and I am also using social media to talk openly about these issues and to let people know that it’s okay to not be okay sometimes.

You can sign Raashi’s petition on change.org here

Raashi Thakran
Delegate, YIC IIT Delhi 2019

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Press Release: The 10th Edition of Young India Challenge 2019 at IIT Delhi

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The 10th Young India Challenge (YIC) was organised by Human Circle on 12th and 13th October at IIT Delhi. The event was focussed on #DoWhatYouLove with a theme of  ‘Sustainable Living’. Approximately 500 students, young professionals and entrepreneurs from more than 75 cities participated at YIC to find solutions for the challenges we face in India regarding. People worked in teams to work on UN Sustainable Development Goals 12 and 13, that is, Responsible Consumption & Production and Climate Action respectively.

The first day started of with some icebreaker games with the delegates and a ‘Welcome to the #DoWhatYouLove Movement’ keynote address by Kamal Seth (Founder & Chief Happiness Officer and Co-creator, YIC) with a thumping introduction and set the already pumped up energy even higher!! 400 jovial faces from all regions of India were greeted with some of the historic YIC rituals, like the ‘Collectective Ovation’. A tribute to the nation with a vitalizing Vande Mataram slowly compounded the high spirits with a constructive seriousness of the cause of Sustainable Living. The delegates raised their Reusable Bamboo Mugs, pledged to be a #SustainabilityWarrior and to fight the climate crisis faced by our nation and the world at large. Kamal also asked the young mins a promise to use their reusable mugs to the point it gets withered. 

 

 

Wioleta (Co-founder, Human Circle & Co-creator, Young India Challenge) really shifted gears to the ‘How to do it’ part of the Movement with the anatomy of the brain pictorial and with her fun exercise ritual. She enabled everyone to connect with themselves as well as with their neighbors. The session proceeded as a sharing session where the participants learnt how to keep keep good mental health. The afternoon of the first day saw speaker sessions by Nida Hasan, Country Head of Change.org, India and Anshul Tewari Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Youth Ki Awaaz. These sessions found some really interesting questions from the curious minds in the audience and it can safely be said that the speakers loved by the participants for their courage and passion. There was also an engaging dialogue on #YouthforSustainability. It covered various areas like excess consumerism, role of media, political and social outreach for climate action, emergency of the sustainability issues in India, and a lot more. The panelists  also deliberated upon how to make sustainable supply chains more mainstream in India, like the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO – a standard for sustainability) backed certified sustainable palm oil. Seated on the panel were the Founder of Human Circle and india Representative, RSPO, Kamal Seth, Prashant Jha, Hindi Editor of Youth Ki Awaaz, Namrata Kilpady, Campaign Manager, Change.org, Devik Sodha, President of AIESEC India, and Saneesh Cherian, Head of Business Management, The Logical Indian. The eminent panelists engaged in a dialogue about how sustainability issues are tackled by these coveted digital media organizations, MNCs and governments. One of the outcomes of the discussion was to develop a consensus for #YouthforSustainability and a collaboration amongst like minded organizations to reach millions of people in India for the same.

 

After the immersive panel discussion, the Happiness Team entered with flags of the teams and gathered them up to set them in a brainstorm mode. This was immediately followed by impromptu jingles made by the teams and Kamal and Wioleta praised the teams they felt were captivating. The mood was certainly set and the teams, with their ‘drop-the-box’ ideas, were determined to claim the winning award! 

Kamal Day 2

The second day started off as the delegates then made their way into the auditorium where they were introduced to their expert mentors for the day. This was followed by an entire day of finding and creating a solution to the challenge given to the team. The mentors guided the teams to find innovative solutions to the challenges we face in India and across the world. After lunch the teams worked on their ideas for a couple more hours and then they were made to present their solutions to the members of the jury. 

 

The teams presented some practical solutions to the challenge that was posed to them and they made it difficult for the jury to choose the winning teams and come to a conclusion. The jury presentations were followed by the Awards Ceremony at the main auditorium which was now vibrantly decorated with colours of India. Hosts for the Awards Ceremony Divya Dureja and Kamal Seth welcomed the audience and took them through the entire Day 2 with a slideshow of pictures playing to the song “Aaj Ka Yeh Din”. 

As the ceremony continued, winners of the ‘You Are The Story’ Contest Raashi Thakran, Kunal Soni and Harshil Anand shared their stories with the audience  consisting of delegates, mentors and happiness team. This was followed by a session from AIESEC in Delhi IIT and the launch of RSPO’s ‘I am a Sustainability Warrior’ ambassador program and a #YouthforSustainability Fellowship with Centre For Responsible Business. Some members of the Happiness Team and Delegates were then invited to share their own YIC experiences which was followed by the announcement of the winning teams.

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“Time has come for the youth in India to step up our efforts to tackle the climate crisis. We must do the best we can to leave a healthy planet for our children and grandchildren. A collective effort by the people and supported by companies, NGOs, governments and all civil society stakeholders can make it happen. We must hold each other accountable for our promises.” said Kamal Seth

“In order to do the great work of making this world a better place, we must learn to keep ourselves happy and ‘hack our brains’ to stay in a positive state of mind to tackle the biggest challenges of our times like the climate crisis and depression. We must grab all opportunities to increase our self awareness and practical skills to add more and more value in the work we do.” said Wioleta Burdzy Seth

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The 10th Young India Challenge has been the biggest one so far with more than 50 speakers, mentors and jury members and throughout the two days of the event, the energy was on a whole different level. So many passionate youngsters all gathered in one place to find solutions to the challenges we face in India is an indicator of the vast potential that the Indian youth has.

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A Circular Approach towards the Sustainable Development Goals

Centre for Responsible Business (CRB) is a think tank focused on helping businesses integrate sustainability into their core functions. One of the ways in which we engage businesses is through organizing  multi-stakeholder dialogues such as our annual flagpship Conference “India & Sustainability Standards”. We work across different sectors namely Apparel and textiles, Agro-based industries, ICT and Electronics, Mining and Minerals. Most of our work on promoting business sustainability may be catergorized under the following themes such as Circular Economy, Business and Human Rights, Private Sector and SDGs, Voluntary Sustainability Standards and MSMEs and Sustainability. 

At CRB we adopt the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as one of the conceptual frameworks for it’s work on sustainability. In the past few decades, Circular Economy has emerged as an important lever to support sustainable development. As defined by the Ellen Macarthur Foundation, circular economy serves as a regenerative economic system which is powered by renewable energy, where the concept of “waste” is designed out, and materials and energy circulate in closed loops for long periods of time. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Redesign, Repair, Refurbish and Remanufacture (known as the 7 Rs’)are the basic tenets of circular economy. Circular economy helps us to look at entire production and consumption value chains from a macro, or systems perspective, and design ways to make them sustainable. Given its focus on resource efficiency, systems and design thinking, the concept of circular economy is especially useful towards advancement on SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production. Designing products and services in a way that the by-products and end-of-life products (post-consumer goods) can be disassembled and/or recycled/reused, will make sure that the stress on earth’s limited resources is reduced. 

Through it’s project on Promoting Responsible Value Chains in India for an Effective Contribution of the Private Sector to the SDGs (PROGRESS) ,CRB is currently working with the textile and apparel industry to create strategies to enable a transition to a circular economy. Due to high demand for fashion goods and their rapid obsolescence, millions of tonnes of apparel-related waste end up in landfills every year. After oil and gas, the textile and apparel sectors are considered as the second most polluting industry globally. Cotton, the primary raw material for textiles, requires enormous amounts of fertilizers, water and pesticides, while the manufacturing process is chemical-intensive. Man-made fibres like polyester are created from by-products of the petrochemical industry, which has a large footprint; polyester also leads to microplastics pollution of soil and water bodies.

CRB’s initiative focuses on interactions within global value chains of the textile industry, i.e. how global fashion brands like H&M, C&A, Marks and Spencer, etc. interact with their suppliers, manufacturers and other associates on sustainability issues. As consumers become more aware about the environmental footprint and social impacts of their buying choices, international brands are striving towards making their businesses circular. CRB believes that this can be a huge economic opportunity for Indian garment manufacturers and raw material producers, who can adopt circular economy and fulfil the demand criteria of brands and consumers around the world. This, is turn, will contribute to SDG 12 in India.

But if circular economy or any other sustainability paradigm is to succeed, the consumers, especially the youth must start making conscious lifestyle choices and act as change agents. Once they start demanding sustainable products and services, businesses and governments will align their goals to the SDGs.

by
Ramanuj Mitra, Programme Officer, CRB 

Centre for Responsible Business (CRB) – http://c4rb.org/

India Sustainability Standards – http://www.sustainabilitystandards.in/

 United Nation Sustainable Development Goals – https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals/

 Ellen Macarthur Foundation – https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/circular-economy/concept

 Golden Plains Shire 7R’s-  https://www.goldenplains.vic.gov.au/residents/my-home/recycling-and-rubbish/7-rs-recycling

 PROGRESS overview- http://c4rb.org/progress

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I’d be the happiest if my act of kindness inspires even one person to donate

hair donation

The scissors snip together slowly making that unmistakable crunching sound and 08 inches of hair that I spent years growing are now gone. 

But the strands didn’t just fall to the ground to get swept up and thrown away. 

Instead, my hair went to ‘Strands of strength’, an organization that distributes free wigs to cancer patients. The wigs offered by them disguise hair loss, decrease feelings of vulnerability and provide greater self-esteem. 

You’re sending a piece of yourself to a child or adult who has a disease that’s caused them to lose their hair.

It seems to be a small thing to do but it creates in big difference for the people who are in that mess. It’s a ray of hope for them.

When I was battling hypothyroidism, there was immense hair fall that made me depressed each day. Once day I thought how do patients who lose their hair survive and made me realise that I should be rather thankful that I have some at least. 

So I thought about a haircut but came across hair donation in the meanwhile (Much thanks to Ms. Anusha).

But as it is said, ‘One thought can change your life’, the process of hair donation made me love my hair and generated a sense of gratitude.

After final haircut I just felt accomplished. My new look brought attention and appreciation.

At least once in this life, go for it because you wouldn’t know how good it feels unless you do it. 

I’d be the happiest if my act of kindness inspires even one person to donate.

Easy steps to follow- 

  • Love your hair a little more
  • Keep them clean
  • Tell your stylist about donation
  • Get your hair sectioned into small ponytails all around your head 
  • Cut straight across right above the rubber band to keep the hair together
  • Just take these pieces, place them in a zip pouch and courier it.

Contributed by Rupali Anju Arora

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Sustainable Palm Oil Coalition for India launched to drive India’s sustainable palm oil market

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New Delhi, India: As the largest consumer and importer of palm oil, globally, India has the potential to play a significant role in driving sustainable practices in the palm oil sector. In order to address this, Sustainable Palm Oil Coalition for India (India-SPOC) was recently launched as a collaborative effort between Centre for Responsible Business (CRB), World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) – India, Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and Rainforest Alliance (RA) at a global convention on sustainable trade and standards in New Delhi. 

In recent years, palm oil has become one of the most widely used vegetable oils in the food and FMCG industry, given its productivity and versatility in use. However, the factors that have made palm oil a success have also brought with it well-documented environmental and social challenges. Most prominent among these are links to deforestation, labour rights, and damaging effects on nature and the environment, particularly when grown unsustainably. India-SPOC will be working primarily with companies in India to facilitate collaboration within the industry and help improve sustainability performance across their palm oil supply chain. The coalition will work towards addressing barriers and challenges to sustainable palm oil by taking into consideration the unique characteristics of the palm oil sector in India, focusing on aspects including policy, best practices for production, trade linkages, and consumer sensitisation to sustainability.

The collaborative platform will consist of associations, civil society organisations, consumer goods manufacturers, food-service retailers, retailers, banks and financial institutions, and palm oil traders and producers committed to increasing the use of sustainable palm oil and its derivatives in the Indian market. India-SPOC has opened its request for stakeholder participation with CRB playing the role of the Secretariat for the coalition.

Centre for Responsible Business

“The formation of India-SPOC is a timely and positive development in India and for the Asian region. I believe India-SPOC, to a great extent, will address the concerns and doubts of scholars and critics who argue that the increase in South-South trade in food, feed and fibre, for which India is a leading actor for both imports and exports, may undermine sustainability issues. I am sure India-SPOC will develop appropriate strategies, plans and activities for proactive engagement with palm oil producers, processors, users and other stakeholders in the value chain to address and arrest the challenges of deforestation, biodiversity loss, human and labour rights in palm oil industry in India and the region. Many congratulations and my best wishes to the leaders at Rainforest Alliance, RSPO, WWF and CRB for initiating and leading this initiative.”

  • Dr. Bimal Arora, Honorary Chairperson, Centre for Responsible Business and Faculty at Aston Business School, United Kingdom

World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) – India

“As the world’s largest consumer of palm oil, India could play a pivotal role in promoting the sustainable production of palm oil. India-SPOC provides an opportunity for the Indian palm oil industry to positively influence the domestic demand for sustainable palm oil.”  

  • Mr. Ravi Singh, Secretary General and CEO

Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)

“With approximately 98% of palm oil (crude, refined and processed) consumed in India, coming from imported sources, India-SPOC will bring a much needed dialogue of sustainable palm oil to India. On behalf of RSPO, I congratulate all of India-SPOC’s founding partners and we hope the coalition will play a key role in helping achieve the shared vision of making sustainable palm oil the norm.” 

  • Darrel Webber, Chief Executive Officer

Rainforest Alliance

“The time is right for the Sustainable Palm Oil Coalition. Palm oil is in high demand and provides a livelihood to millions of farmers and workers in the tropics. The negative social and environmental impacts from its production in South east Asia have been well publicised. A commitment from companies in India, the world’s largest importer, to buy palm oil produced without those negative impacts will send a clear message through the supply chain and stimulate further progress in sustainable production practices.” 

  • Mr. Edward Millard, Director

 

About Centre for Responsible Business

The Centre for Responsible Business (CRB) is an independent centre of excellence, working with business and stakeholders to promote responsible business strategies, policies and practices. For more information please visit, http://www.c4rb.org/

About WWF

WWF-India is a leading conservation organisation with a global network active in more than 100 countries dedicated to building a world in which humans live in harmony with nature. For more information please visit, www.wwfindia.org

About RSPO

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) was formed in 2004 with the objective of promoting the growth and use of sustainable oil palm products through credible global standards and engagement of stakeholders. For more information, please visit RSPO’s global website www.rspo.org

About Rainforest Alliance

The Rainforest Alliance is an international nonprofit organisation working to build a future in which nature is protected and biodiversity flourishes, where farmers, workers, and communities prosper, and where sustainable land use and responsible business practices are the norm. For more information please visit, www.rainforest-alliance.org/

RSPO will be the ‘Sustainability Partner’ for the 10th Young India Challenge (YIC) which will be organized Dr. Ambedkar International Centre, New Delhi on 12-13 October 2019. The theme for the event is ‘Sustainable Living’ and the focus is on finding solutions for SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production and SDG 13: Climate Action. You can apply for the 10th YIC here: https://youngindiachallenge.com/

 

For further information, kindly contact:info@humancircle.in