Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Childhood Wishes

It’s Christmas and while as a family we’ve never celebrated it, we‘ve always wished our friends a ‘Merry Christmas’. I happened to be talking to a friend today – Christmas Day and her five year old came on the line and wished me a “Merry Christmas”. And in the same breath shared that “Santa gave me a magic and sweater and jeans.” I complained that “Santa never gave me anything” and she had a ready logic that “he only gives to small children.”

As a child I too wished – that the tooth fairy would place beautiful stationary under my pillow, that God would make me stand 1st in class, that my uncle would get me colour pencils from abroad, that Mom would buy me party sandals ...... the list never ended!
I thought that over the many years since I was a child, children today would have fancier wishes – mobile phones, ipads, digital cameras.......  I was pleasantly surprised when I came across a wish list of children from Udayan Care – an NGO that nurtures children who are orphaned or abandoned. It was heartening to read the simple wishes children had – a school bag, pencil box, dress,  sandal, jeans among many others,

And yes, the five year old who wished me today was absolutely right - he (Santa in this case) only gives small children because they ask with a complete trust that all their wishes will be fulfilled. It is that innocence which lives in us as children that makes us Wish. A fleeting innocence because childhood becomes a memory before we know it. To let my belief in the tooth fairy, Santa and all the others live on, I am going to fulfil a child’s wish.  

 Meenakshi Kohli
Advocating Equal Rights for every child

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Human Rights for all

10 December 1948 marked International Human Rights Day, the day that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted. In honour of this occasion, the winter session our Parliamentraised the issues of human rights violations in Tibet and Jammu and Kashmir.Similar issues were discussed by civil society organisations, including a talk onhuman right violations against refugees in India, that I had the opportunity to attend.

On a day that we reaffirm our commitment to Human Rights, principles enshrined in the UN declaration, and our own constitutional values of ‘economic, social and political justice,’it is of course befitting to give due attention to some of the grossest violations of human rights that take place across the world, reflected in these various forums be it parliament or society at large. However, it is perhaps as important to acknowledge thathuman rights is not isolated to a single region, community,or particular event in our country.

The discourse on Human Rights also encompasses the daily struggles that people across our country continue to face. This includes our children who continue to suffer from malnutrition, womenwho face abuse and violence,slum dwellers who lack access to basic housing, and thousands who lack access healthcare facilities, or, and livelihoods.All of these represent violations of Article 25 of the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights, which guarantees everyone “the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care.” More so, they represent a living reality for many.

But, the narrative of human rights need not stop at economic and social inequalities. Something as basic as the right to a clean environment is something that most of us continue to be denied, whether it isit noxious fumes in the air, the pollutionof our water bodies, or the rapid rate of resource depletion that is slowly destroying our ecosystems. Thoughit may not explicitly be stated in UN Declaration, our own judiciaryhas upheld that a clean and hygienic environment is ultimately fundamental to our Right to Life, in our own constitution.

So, when we talk of human rights, we need not look very far or wide, nor to a specific time or place when pledging our commitment to the cause. Recognising this is perhaps the first step to giving due attention to all of those who feature in the wider narrative called Human Rights.Hopefully, it is alsoa step closer to actually working towardsHuman Rights for all.

Saanya Gulati is a LAMP Fellow at PRS Legislative Research

Monday, December 10, 2012

Social Innovation Program with Udayan Care – School Of Inspired Leadership, Gurgaon

School Of Inspired Leadership, Gurgaon has the Social Innovation Program which is an internship with an NGO for a year, one ay each week. Our team comprising of Sukriti, Anvesh, Samik and Anil wanted to intern with Udayan Care because of its commendable work towards child care and education. When the four of us came together to form a team and decide on a an NGO to work for, we could clearly see that our values- Sustainability, Diversity, Ethics, Compassion, Mindfulness, which have been imbibed in us from the very first day at SOIL align very well with the values of Udayan Care.

It has been little more than 4 months now and even now, every Thursday we are full of energy and zeal to come to the Lajpat Nagar Head Office of Udayan Care and spend the day full of new tasks and challenges. Working at Udayan Care has taught us numerous things. Most importantly, it has made us realise the value of education, love and family in our lives. When we met the children at Mayur Vihar Ghar on our first day at Udayan Care in July, we could see the love and Care that they receive from their mentor mothers and the great enthusiasm with which each one of them talked about everything that happened that day at their school.  

We have learned how to make the most of whatever you have. Since an NGO does not have as much resources at their disposal as a business organisation does, we have to “do more with less” It has taught us how to utilise resources to their optimum without wastage. Also, an NGO works in a very different way from a business organisation. Things are way more difficult and challenging.  Working for Udayan Care has given us the most practical exposure of all the management theories and models that we study at SOIL in a very challenging way which has proved to be the best learning so far.  SOIL has even analysed a pattern which shows that whoever is able to work and succeed in this Social Innovation Program has proven to be successful at his workplace.

One of our really great experiences at Udayan Care was volunteering for the India NGO Awards 2011 as Udayan Care Interns. Volunteering for the event was in itself a great learning experience for all of us. We went back into the flashbacks of our college fest days. But the most amazing part of the whole ceremony was Udayan Care’s victory as the best NGO in the Medium Scale Category. It was then that we realised the strong bond that had developed between us and Udayan Care in just 4 Thursday visits. The pride and happiness that we felt when Udayan Care’s name was called out showed our sense of ownership and belongingness with our NGO partner. This event also made each of us realise the labour and toil that goes beyond the success of an NGO, be it small medium or a large scale NGO. What matters is your passion for the cause that you are working for, and your dedication towards achieving the Vision of your organisation.

We have covered half our journey at Udayan Care and it has been amazing. We are thankful to SOIL for giving us the opportunity to work for such a great organisation as Udayan Care. We are also thankful to Udayan Care for giving us this opportunity to attend this event as volunteers. Proud to be working for Udayan Care!

-Sukriti Sinha
-Anvesh Apale
-Samik Roy Choudhury
-Anil Kumar
Interns, Udayan Care