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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.

We would like to thank all our partners and supporters for making the 10th Young India Challenge a mega success!

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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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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

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India Commences National Interpretation of Principles & Criteria 2018 (Global Sustainability Standard for the Production of Palm Oil)

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Following a successful first meeting in Hyderabad in February, to develop the National Interpretation (NI) of the revised RSPO Principles and Criteria (P&C) 2018, the Indian NI Working Group (NIWG) held its second meeting earlier this month in Mumbai, from 14-15 May 2019. 

The NIWG reviewed the P&C 2018 and discussed its relevance for Indian plantations, mills, and smallholders. The RSPO Independent Smallholder Standard, currently in its third round of public consultations, was also discussed at length amongst the group. After the first meeting, the RSPO organised a field trip in Andhra Pradesh to increase the level of understanding for working group members and allow them to interact with local smallholders, visit local mills, and also to help them to better understand the challenges faced on the ground.  

India has a legislation that is similar to a ‘jurisdictional approach’ but due to legal restrictions, company-owned oil palm plantations in India is uncommon. However, with more than 50,000 oil palm smallholders grouped in different zones and bound to specific mills, the hope is that this could be an opportunity for smallholder farmers in India to produce palm oil sustainably. Aside from this, RSPO is expecting its first Indian smallholder group to be certified by mid 2020.

Over the course of these meetings, the group also discussed supply chain models, systems for certification, mills and Independent Smallholder Credits, among other key topics. Some important highlights from these two meetings were the agreement of the definition of ‘smallholders’ in India’s context, and the different scenarios for the applicability of the P&C 2018, ISH Standard, Group Certification, and Supply Chain Certification.

The India NI initiative has been supported by an in-depth baseline assessment study and gap analysis for Indian farmers, commissioned by the RSPO. Transgraph Consulting will be working with the NIWG to finalise the draft of the NI, which will go through a 30-day public consultation period from June to July. The NIWG will then gather for the third meeting in August to discuss the public comments and prepare the final draft to be submitted to the RSPO Secretariat for approval by the RSPO Board of Governors (BOG). 

New Members for India’s Sustainable Palm Oil Coalition

There has been strong support for the India Sustainable Palm Oil Coalition (I-SPOC) since it launched in September last year, with 15 organisations joining the coalition in just 8 months. The founding members held their first members’ meeting at the Hindustan Unilever (HUL) headquarters in India. To strengthen the governance of the coalition, HUL and AAK Kamani were asked to join the founding members as part of the I-SPOC Steering Committee. 

The coalition members have now been divided into three working groups namely; Policy Advocacy, Supply Chain Transformation and End-Users, to pursue activities that will accomplish I-SPOC‘s mission to promote sustainable consumption and trade of palm oil and its derivatives in India along the supply chain, through industry collaboration

The current members of I-SPOC include Climate Disclosure Project, Colgate-Palmolive, Ferrero, Galaxy Surfactants, Haldiram’s, Dutch Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH), L’Oreal, Procter & Gamble and Rabobank. Representatives from Reliance Retail, Dunkin Brands, General Mills, IKEA, Reckitt Benckiser, HSBC, Yes Bank and ISEAL Alliance joined the first meeting as ‘Observers’.

Palm oil is a priority raw material and in 2016, we brought forward our target for purchasing 100% physically certified palm oil from 2020 to 2019. As a ‘Steering Committee’ member of I-SPOC, we believe we’ll make greater progress towards transforming the industry in India through greater transparency,” said Jasbir Singh Nanda, Procurement Director – South Asia at Unilever.

Arindom Datta, Rabobank’s Executive Director added that “palm oil is an important ingredient for food and consumer goods, generating high economic value for global companies and for small family farms in Asia. Rabobank is involved in solutions, from the plantation to the supermarket shelf. As a food and agri bank, it is in our interest that the sectors in which we are strong are also healthy. India is a challenging market and therefore, it is good to see that several large organisations have joined I-SPOC already. We are fully committed to encouraging all stakeholders to transition to certified sustainable palm oil coming to India from Malaysia and Indonesia and also its domestic production in India once the ‘National Interpretation’ process is complete. For a significant long-term impact, at some stage, we will also need to bring in government representatives for policy level interventions.” 

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

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Ankit’s Journey and Young India Challenge

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Change never happens in isolation and once it starts happening, it cannot be confined or controlled. I have experienced it in my journey of bringing change. 

Hi, I am Ankit Raj, and I belong to a small remote village of western Bihar. From the very beginning, like most of the families who aspire to fix the financial insecurities by getting a government job, my family was also very ambitious and wanted me to be an officer in Indian Army and carry forward the legacy of my previous generation dominated by officers of Indian Army. After several failures to get into military schools, the memorable successes during my NCC Career brought me the opportunity to go through Officers Training and also the title ‘Pride of the Battalion’. Henceforth, rather than choosing to secure the nation from external threats, I chose to eradicate the bigger threat to internal security and prosperity of the nation that is ‘poverty’.

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With 93.8 percentile at national level in AIMA-UGAT 2012, instead of pursuing business studies, I chose to go for B.A. Honours in my English Literature and remain close to my villagers and apply my whatever little knowledge I had for their welfare. That drove me to student politics, RTI activism and citizen journalism. I successfully solved some problems also and that ignited to work for impact at scale. After completion of B.A English Honours, I was chosen for in Gandhi Fellowship and got placed in the tribal block of Surat Gujarat. While working with tribal communities in remote areas, I used to come across several issues and used to feel an urge inside to solve all the problems. I tried my hands in some of the problems and tasted partial success. It made me think about the process I followed and It brought me a realization that I didn’t use the perspectives of my collegues for the solution. That led me to the realization that to solve the traditional issues of the community, we need to bring creative, holistic and comprehensive ways. There starts the search for opportunities where I may meet ‘creative-problem-solvers’ and the nature conspired to bring Young India Challenge 2017 in my way. I just grabbed it and made myself available for a life changing opportunity. 

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YIC may be several things for several people, but for me, it was a platform which expanded the framework of my thought process which made my outlook more spacious for knowledge, aspiration and vision. It stretched my outlook from local to global; and due to that along with my interest in local governance and rural development, I started getting interested in international developments and challenges. The challenge of finding solutions to global problems in few hours was like shaking your brain like anything, but with the enthusiastic team members, we could find a solution, propose a business plan and appeared replicable. This brought me a learning that solution will be in our hand as and when we want it. 

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The habit of visualizing problems in global framework and local resources made me realize the importance of even a small positive step anywhere in the world. It increased my interconnectedness, expanded my knowledge base, my network, capability and opportunities. Today, I am a person whose interest lies in foreign relations along with local governance of India.

In 2019, I am working with the National Institute of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj to implement a national project which aims to bring youngsters in Panchayats to increase the capacity of Panchayat Elected representatives and government employees and ensure that participatory, planned and sustainable development is taking place. Now, when I apply the global lens and find myself solving several of UN – SDGs. This makes me visionary and makes me ahead of the average thought leaders.  

I will always be grateful to YIC and will keep being a problem solver for the community. I think this is the best way to build the nation and self. 

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Moving Towards Deforestation-Free Supply Chains in India

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ISEAL Alliance, in partnership with the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), WWF-India and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), co-organised a strategic dialogue and workshop last month, which brought together relevant stakeholders for an in-depth discussion on the challenges and opportunities of addressing deforestation along the supply chains in India.

Hosted at Hindustan Unilever’s Mumbai headquarters, the discussions centred around the palm oil, rubber, wood and pulp sectors, as well as other commodities linked to deforestation, and looked at the development of clear strategies that can be used when dealing with business stakeholders in the country. The output from the roundtable discussion will be analysed by the organisers and attendees. It will then be used to influence business policies that encourage sustainable sourcing across supply chains and minimise carbon footprint.

CEO of the Centre for Responsible Business (CRB), Rijit Sengupta, said There is a need for creating market demand for deforestation-free (sustainable) products by working with businesses (users) and consumers. Together with partners like RSPO, the Centre for Responsible Business has been strategising ways to achieve this in India,” he said.

Bhawna Yadav, Reckitt Benckiser’s Regional Social and Human Rights Manager for South Asia and ASEAN added, “Palm oil is an important commodity, but one that needs careful management to enable a sustainable future for the communities and ecosystems it touches. Businesses can collaborate to support this goal, building pragmatic effective systems that, together with governments, civil society and communities, can be implemented at scale.” 

The meeting saw encouraging participation from some of the largest brands and financial institutions operating in India. Most of the members of the ‘Sustainable Palm Oil Coalition for India’ (I-SPOC) joined the workshop along with other stakeholders, led by representatives from Dutch Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH), CRB, Reckitt Benckiser, L’Oreal, HSBC, Rabobank, ITC, JK Paper and several others.

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

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Youth for Sustainability Initiative Launched in India by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)

RSPO Blog 4

The RSPO participated in the 71st AIESEC International Congress in India as the ‘Leaders for 2030’ partner and launched its ‘Youth for Sustainability’ campaign. The event, which focused on reviewing and planning the contribution of young people for sustainable development goals, was held in Hyderabad from 5-13 July, attracting more than 400 youth leaders from over 90 countries.

RSPO’s India Representative, Kamal Prakash Seth, who is also the former President of AIESEC’s Delhi Chapter delivered the opening keynote address at this event. He said, “World leadership is in crisis for climate action. Young leaders are the future of the world. Youth must step up in their communities, and take responsibilities towards creating a sustainable future. As the world’s largest youth run organization for leadership development and , present in more than 125 countries and territories, AIESEC has a big role to play for creating a better future for all.”

The keynote address was followed by a 90-minute workshop titled ‘Be the CEO you want to see in the world’. 100 delegates from across the world including countries like India, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, were divided into ten teams representing the management teams of popular everyday use products which contain palm oil like burgers, chocolates, ice-creams, biscuits & cookies, soaps, shampoos, lipstick etc. All the teams were first sensitized about the merits of sustainable palm oil, briefed about RSPO’s ‘Theory of Change’  and then asked to come up with a business plan to present to their company’s board to transition to sustainable palm oil and also to launch a marketing campaign to educate their suppliers and end consumers. The winning team was announced at the end of the workshop and rewarded with some RSPO goodies. 

All the ideas from the teams were collected by RSPO and AIESEC and will be used for our outreach and education programmes. A social media challenge was also launched at the conference titled ‘Be a Sustainability Warrior’ wherein the delegates were asked to post real life pictures and videos of actions they have taken for climate change. RSPO also participated in the ‘Media Zone Panel’ which was created to engage hundreds of thousands of AIESECers and young people in general through facebook live.

“To be able to one day engage and develop every young person in the world and become the youth leadership movement, we need to understand young people, we need to become the youth-voice.” said Agnieszka Okroj, Global Vice President, Public Relations, AIESEC.

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

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Life is beyond uncertainties – The spark of Doing What You Love!

Every day, at around 5:00 AM, I’d be rushing down the flight of steps to board the Churchgate local transiting through Vasai Road (a small town in the outskirts of Mumbai) to kick-start my day as a University student. In about 90 minutes I’d be at the Churchgate station at an hour of the day where Bombay still seemed to be dressed in the freshness of a golden morn. Treasuring the silence, I’d be happily strolling down the heritage lanes of South Bombay, or stop by the bay and relish the beauty of the morning calm. With the rise of the Sun, my hours would soon be devoted to attending Sociology lectures followed by French lessons until late afternoons.  Towards the start of a pleasant evening, I’d slip into the shanty slums of Dharavi and transition my role from a student to a part-time English and French teacher at a non-profit. This was what had got me productive during the weekdays. The weekends, however, were quite rigorously meant for short day trips and a volunteer project that identified me as an online English tutor for the orphans of rural West Bengal. Occasionally I’d also be gladly working part-time as a city guide, showing around hidden nooks of Bombay to guests from Sri Lanka, Turkey, West Indies, Canada, Australia, just to name a few! 

Bundi, Rajasthan

Right from my hours spent studying culture, norms, and society to exploring the diverse vividity of this globe as a Sociology and a French student, I’ve always loved the idea of materializing my learnings; in an environment that would allow me to share my skills and take it to the ones in need. Certainly, that was what led me to start working in Dharavi and eventually handed me a fellowship in rural Rajasthan. Simultaneously, my love for traveling to foreign lands and connecting with people from across the globe also motivated me to come up with my travel blog – ‘Steps and Streets‘ to share my travel stories. 

My work in Rajasthan was that of an English teacher at a rural school which parallelly also allowed me to travel and write stories during school vacations and long holidays. However, a few months down the line, a prolonged illness dropped me at the crossroads of quitting the fellowship and looking for another job in the development sector or diving into a less-promising career option of being a full-time travel writer. I chose the second one. The one that I’ve always had connected with. 

With my students in Tilonia

Tanisha with her students in Tilonia, Rajasthan

Since then, my travel-writing career has taken me to the remote villages of the Uttarakhand Himalayas, to lesser-known heritage nooks in Rajasthan, and several other parts of West Bengal, Gujarat, and Maharashtra. 

But none of this was a bed of roses. There still are days where I think of opting for a full-time job. But every time I think such, I’m turned down by a virtual loop of all the adventures I’ve had on the road ever since I got into travel blogging. Despite the pain and the instability of financially sustaining my life as a digital nomad, I’d never trade this life of pure bliss and pure struggle for anything that is less exciting than the one that I’m in. 

At an unmapped village, Uttarakhand

Ever since I was 17 till today that I’m 21, I’ve never thought of rewinding or living my life differently! As a less-experienced teenager to an ever-evolving adult, I’ve always chosen what rang with my passion. 

By the verandah, as I sip my coffee overlooking the fresh paddy fields of Bengal, once again, I ask myself, ‘how do I manage to stick to the drama of having a life with all sort of uncertainties?’, my gut simply murmurs, ‘That’s the spark of doing what you love!’

Tanisha Guin
(YIC Mumbai 2017)