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Learning to empathize

Avish Vijay

I am Avish Vijaivergiya. I am a User Experience Designer and in the meantime, I
just look at things and I love to compare and bitch about them.

Have you ever done this exercise, when someone special is coming to your house created, you try to imagine all the scenario possible, try to understand their needs, you tidy up the place a little, looking into those minor details?

Well, it’s simple, you have just put things in a meaningful order so that your guest feels good. You have just designed a usable experience. That’s what I try as well, So the question is, how do I it, or rather why do I do this? Why is it needed?

To answer that question, I would like to roll back the time a little. I was a very very shy kid, cannot talk more than a sentence. Adding to the mess, I am a single child as well. I used to have this strange thought that was a byproduct of this low self-esteem “I as a person don’t matter, its the person for whom I am doing this work for which matters a lot”. All these years I always felt that my views, my feelings, my thoughts don’t matter to anyone.

Among all this, I did had a hard family time as well which suppressed me even further. Don’t worry I won’t go into sentimental details. This thing, which back then had many negative impacts, had empowered me with one amazing thing which I cherish forever i.e empathy.

My experience with subsequent trauma has offered me High Self-Monitoring, Hyper-vigilance and a predisposition to and taking on a lot of Emotional Work.

With my background, I find this difficult to turn off. Whenever I’m around people or things, I’m gathering information, I’m studying behaviours, I’m noticing usability. I struggle to avoid being the vessel. I have to make a conscious effort to stop. But stopping feels unsafe.
This makes me more of a designer.

Avish Vijaivergiya
Delegate, YIC IIT Delhi 2019

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Work Hard in Silence, let your Success be your Noise

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From a very shy girl in my school days to a young woman journalist now, my transformation as an individual has been profound because it demanded a lot of efforts by myself as well as my parents and teachers to bring me out of the cocoon.

At this juncture, I am reminded of an embarrassing moment in my school days which marked a turning point in my life. My classmates had mocked at me and my teachers were disappointed as I was asked to speak for two minutes on a given topic and all that I could do was to stand silent with a blank face and shivering hands, without uttering a single word.

From that day onwards, I took every single day as a challenge to prove myself. From grade 11 to graduation, I had participated in most of the events and those five years of my life had made me stronger, bolder and a confident girl.  Ironically it may sound, I stood as an outstanding student of my college.

I had then pursued my Masters in Journalism and Mass Communication from Andhra University and stood as a gold medallist (2016). Apart from the district and zonal awards, I had also bagged a National award for an All-India essay writing competition which was organised by the United Nations Information Centre.

While pursuing my Masters, I started writing for the letters to the editor column in the national newspapers. With a dream to build my career, I started working as a freelancer for The Hindu MetroPlus, Vizag and then started my full-time career with The New Indian Express. 

A few issues which brought about an impact in the society are; 

  1. Sanctioning of Rs 50 lakhs by the district administration for renovating a 113-year-old heritage building which was damaged after cyclone Hud-Hud struck Vizag and it was decided to demolish the building. The building has been serving as a girl’s school from the past three decades.
  2. Many parks in the city which were used as dumping grounds were revamped for public use, after continuous efforts were made with the district authorities.
  3. Parking fees at commercial establishments in the city were abolished after the issue was highlighted in the paper. 

During my journey as a journalist, I was awarded as the best young woman journalist of Andhra Pradesh in 2017 for my exemplary work in voicing out people’s voice. I was also awarded as the emerging journalist in print media in the state. 

Reshma Jain
Delegate, YIC IIT Delhi 2019

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Finding Me- Dhoondhna Khud Ko Phir Se Hai

Vibhu Garg.jpg
I grew up in a middle class family. My father is a businessman and my mother is a homemaker. My father had a struggling life. There was a time when he started his business from zero once again as his brother betrayed him. But, he never threw his decisions and responsibilities upon me. When I was in 10th I really got a poor result but my exams went really well. I filed my complaint and after 3 months almost, my result was corrected. Same happened in 12th, I got my paper re-evaluated. During my JEE preparation, my father used to wake up in midnight and prepare milk/coffee/tea and gave me something to eat. He loves me a lot. I have seen his struggle for me. Somehow, I got admission in NIT Kurukshetra in Mechanical Engineering. Well, I never knew much about engineering but somehow, I got my branch changed from Mechanical to Computer Engineering. My 3rd semester was worst, I felt as I had made an incorrect choice. I failed getting an internship on-campus but I graduated being Gold Medalist in Major Project, Computer Engineering, and was also among the department rank holders. I managed to get a placement in Bharti Airtel, where I am currently working as a software engineer.
Life has always been really challenging for me. Whatever I plan, it simply does not get executed at all. Things turn out to be opposite, the way I planned them off to be. But, one thing is sure, “I never quitIf I start something, I will end the same.” My personal life has really taught me a lot. I have seen people backstabbing. There have been people whom I loved, cared and trusted more than anybody in this world, but, they never considered me as something in their life. I was mere an option for them. But, yes I have learned that connections are important not attachments. One of my seniors told me –“Vibhu, you’ll meet ‘N’ number of people everyday. Of them, there will be people you want to live with and there will be people who want to live with you. There is a fine line between the two. With time, you’ll get to know the people who shall add value to your life. Stay with them.” I learned with time, never be anybody’s option. They will never be available when you will need them. Help people, but never lose your self-respect. Sometimes, a mere “NO” is way better than a mere “YES”. Never lose hope. Life is really hard and it is meant to be, otherwise it is death. Never run away from your problems, find solutions to tackle them. I used to expect people helping me, supporting me during my difficult phases in my life, but the one I thought of were not there and eventually I found strangers supporting me and helping me. Life is a journey, it’s important to enjoy while living and struggling. “Welcome each and every moment in your life because Happiness is a mere choice”.
Har Waqt Khud Ko Dhoonta Hoon,
Jo Karne Aaya Tha, Kya Vo Kar Bhi Raha Hoon.
Sawal Bahut The, Jawab Ek Ni.
Ek jhoot sa bana liya tha zindagi ko,
Har waqt mano apna, mano har shaqkhs apna,
Ghar se Door, Ghar Dhoondhe Chala Tha,
Jankar Bhi Sabne, Anjana Kar Diya Tha,
Sath Rehkar Bhi Akela Kar Diya Tha,
Dost, Bhai, Sab Ban Gaye, Wajood Ban Gaya, 
Sabne, Us Chehre Ko Dekha, 
Jo Shayad Kabhi Tha Hi Nahi, 
Ab Dhoondhna Phir Se Hai, Chalna Phir Se,
Waqt Ka Kya Pata, Milenge Ya Nahi,
Aas Hai Dil Ki, Tumse Milna Phir Se Hai…..
Vibhu Garg
Delegate, YIC IIT Delhi 2019
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Your attitude of never giving up will save you one day

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I am a 17 year old girl who has been so busy her entire life . My life has been a series of serious unpredictable ups and downs probably a rollercoaster ride. Since I was in my pre school that lil Tulza had loved speaking, singing and sleeping. It was in the early years of my life when I was struck by a rare disease, that I started fading in the darkness of thought that I might never recover . But I had this one hobby of writing poems and that is when it hit me that I wanted to be a poet . The same time we had a competition in the school and I didn’t even clear the prelims . I ended up feeling depressed but I never gave up and kept on writing till I was satisfied and today is the day that I have already been in three anthologies and have been a published writer. I have always been so busy chasing the win that I barely had time to cry on my failures.
The same way, after working hard for years and participating in every local MUN , last year I was selected to attend the Asia Youth International Model United Nations in Malaysia but like I said it’s never easy for me . While my parents were packing their bags for the Malaysian trip my dad suffered a series of silent cardiac arrests and passed away. My core was crushed, I went in depression .  It had always been a dream because he himself was a big diplomacy lover and he left us too soon . But then his half lived dreams became mine and I packed my bags and left for Malaysia and made the everyone proud and not just everyone … I made him proud.
Your attitude of never giving up will save you one day. And will help you revive and rejuvenate , so just on track because nothing can stop you and you will succeed.
Tulza Kakde
Delegate, YIC IIT Delhi 2019
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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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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