The 2016 High School Achievers program was the first in the series. The three week program kicked off on Sunday, the 5th of June, 2016 at the beautiful Zorba the Buddha on the Mehrauli Gurgaon road in Delhi. The cohort was a group of 33 spirited and talented students from across schools in Delhi NCR.
The program introduced students to the field of liberal arts, and engaged them in debates on crucial topics in philosophy, political science, sociology and economics. Field visits and special projects gave students an opportunity to directly engage with communities, apply their skills to address social issues and enhance their learning.
We put together an impressive lineup of speakers for the June 2016 program in Delhi. Click on the tabs below to read more about the speakers who addressed our students.
Shashi Tharoor – MP (Lok Sabha)
An author, politician, and former international civil servant, Dr. Shashi Tharoor straddles several worlds of experience. Currently a second-term Lok Sabha MP representing the Thiruvananthapuram constituency and Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs, he has previously served as Minister of State for Human Resource Development and Minister of State for External Affairs in the Government of India. During his nearly three-decade long prior career at the United Nations, he served as a peacekeeper, refugee worker, and administrator at the highest levels, serving as Under-Secretary General during Kofi Annan’s leadership of the organisation. Dr. Tharoor is also an award-winning author of works of both fiction as well as non-fiction, with his fifteenth book released in January 2015.
Baijayant ‘Jay’ Panda – MP (Lok Sabha)
Mr. Baijayant ‘Jay’ Panda is a Member of Parliament of India, Lower House (Lok Sabha), representing the Kendrapara constituency, Odisha since 2009. Earlier Mr. Panda had been twice elected to Parliament, Upper House (Rajya Sabha) in 2000 and 2006, also from the State of Odisha. He is a member of the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) party.
He graduated from the Michigan Technological University and, with a background in Engineering and Management, worked in the corporate sector before joining politics. He takes a keen interest in India’s foreign affairs and is involved in a number of Track 2 dialogues with the US, Japan, China, Pakistan, South Korea, etc. He has been associated with the India-USA Forum of Parliamentarians and is its Chairman.
In Parliament and public life, Mr. Panda passionately espouses the cause of his home state Odisha as well as other national issues close to his heart, such as economic development, education and information technology. He was given an award for best parliamentary practices by the Hon’ble Chief Justice of India in 2008.
Iravati Damle - NIPFP, Ministry of Finance
Iravati Damle is a consultant at the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP), Ministry of Finance, where she is a part of the core team spearheading the design and implementation of a strategic transformation plan for the central warehousing regulator, WDRA.
An alumnus of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, she is a recipient of the prestigious LAMP (Legislative Assistant to Member of Parliament) fellowship. She has extensive research experience across issues of parliamentary governance, accountability, free speech, net neutrality, education and skill development, and has drafted several Private Members' Bills and other legislative instruments for the consideration of the Government.
She has previously worked in and then lead the policy team of a Member of Parliament. She writes regularly on issues in the telecom sector, regulatory governance and parliamentary procedures.
Sarika Panda - Raahgiri
Sarika is Manager, Cities and Transport with the World Resources Institute (WRI) India. She is based in Delhi and coordinates various projects and activities in the Delhi region. Sarika is currently leading the Raahgiri Day movement in the Delhi region, which is India’s first sustained car free day initiative. She is also helping other cities to replicate this hugely successful concept.
Sarika has about 10 years of experience in the field of urban development, transport and architecture. Prior to WRI India, Sarika worked with SMEC India and ORG Pvt. Ltd. and was involved in various prestigious projects around Master Planning, City Development, Comprehensive Mobility, Planning of New Townships etc. She has also worked extensively on Environmental and Social Impact Assessment projects.
Sarika has been formally trained as an architect and urban planner. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture and a Master’s degree in Planning from the School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi. Sarika also has a Master’s degree in Sociology from CSJM University, Kanpur.
Sandhya Kaul Gupta - Tony Blair Faith Foundation (TBFF)
Sandhya Kaul Gupta is an education consultant for the Tony Blair Faith Foundation (TBFF) based in New Delhi, India. In this capacity, she co-manages the Face to Faith program in India and assists with other TBFF education work in India and Asia. She is largely responsible for expanding TBFF's work in India by developing partnerships with external organisations and local governments in addition to assisting with the implementation of current programs in over 200 schools around the country. Prior to joining Face to Faith, Sandhya ran the Faiths Act Fellowship program in India - a program for young people of different faith backgrounds to work together on social service projects. Sandhya joined the Foundation in September 2011, after spending 4 years funding human rights projects in India with American Jewish World Service in New York City. She has a M.A. in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University and speaks Hindi. She lives with her husband in New Delhi.
Tarun Cherukuri - Indus Action
Tarun Cherukuri is the founder and CEO at Indus Action, an organisation that seeks to mobilize public resources and empower communities to solve India's deep-rooted problems in areas such as education, public health, law enforcement and accountability.
Currently, Indus Action is focusing on the implementation of Clause 12 of the Right to Education (RTE) Act in New Delhi through a project called Project Eklavya. Clause 12 of RTE mandates the reservation of 25% seats in entry level classes in all unaided, non-minority, private schools for children from socially and economically disadvantaged sections.
In its first year, Project Eklavya supported the successful enrollment of 166 children from low income communities. In the next year, the campaign multiplied its results three times, leading to enrollment of 604 children in private schools from all across Delhi. Advocacy efforts with the government also led to a change in the guidelines for the admissions process, thus making it easier and accessible to more eligible families.
At Indus Action, Tarun leads strategy, governance, sustainability and research. He graduated from the Harvard Kennedy School in 2013 with a Masters in Public Administration in International Development. He was a Fulbright and Joint Japan World Bank Scholar. He has previously worked with Hindustan Unilever and later on as the City Director of a Delhi site at Teach For India.
Sushant Kumar - Former Head of Social Media, Snapdeal
Dr. Sushant Kumar is a fellow from the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Lucknow. He specializes in the area of consumer behavior.
He was previously a part of the marketing team at Snapdeal, worked on social media technologies for IBM Research, founded a social media intelligence company and worked as an analyst where he led projects for UNICEF India, Lenovo Global, Bajaj Allianz, Max Bupa, and Vodafone U.K.
Dr. Kumar's research includes work in the area of brand communities, word of mouth, online anti-brand activities and Social TV. His research work has been published at the Association of Consumer Research and has won him the best paper award at the Academy of Indian Marketing.
For the June 2016 program, YLAC had partnered with five prominent NGOs that have been doing commendable grassroots work. Our partner NGOs work across a broad range of sectors that include education, women and child rights, environmental protection, livelihoods training and urban governance.
Students were placed in a two week internship with our partners to work on a result-oriented and tightly managed project. Students were assigned to the partners based on their preferences and existing skill sets.
BREAKTHROUGH is a human rights organisation that seeks to make discrimination and violence against women and girls unacceptable every-where and in all its forms, including domestic violence, sexual assault, sexual harassment, street harassment, early marriage, and gender-biased sex selection.
BREAKTHROUGH envisions a world in which all people enjoy their human rights and live with dignity, equality, and justice. Their mission is to prevent violence against women and girls by transforming the norms and cultures that enable it. BREAKTHROUGH carries out this mission by building a critical mass of change agents — the Breakthrough Generation — who will deliver irreversible impact on the issue of our time, in this lifetime.
BREAKTHROUGH's cutting-edge multimedia campaigns, community mobilization, agenda-setting, and leadership training equip men and women worldwide to challenge the status quo and take bold action for the dignity, equality, and justice of all.
Goonj is a non-governmental organisation based in Delhi which undertakes disaster relief, humanitarian aid and community development in states across India.
It was founded in 1999 by Anshu Gupta. For his work with Goonj, he was awarded the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award in 2015. In 2012, he was named India’s Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2012 by Schwab Foundation, a sister organisation of the World Economic Forum.
The work of Goonj tries to address a core challenge of our times: the growing gap between urban prosperity & rural poverty. In the cities, Goonj has the unique distinction of using anything and everything discarded; from a stapler pin to industrial generators and anything in between. Goonj channelizes the unused material lying idle in urban homes, to the far-flung villages of India where it can be used as an important economic resource. Although they deal with all kinds of underutilized material, their primary focus is clothing.
Goonj also recycles discarded clothes and household goods into useful products for the poor, such as sanitary napkins. It collects and delivers 1,000 tons of material every year: from clothes, school material to old doors, windows and computers. It also runs a Cloth for Work (CFW) program that facilitates infrastructure and local development projects in villages and slum areas.
Goonj has also been a strong force in many disaster relief efforts across the country. Goonj worked extensively during the Gujarat earthquake, the tsunami in 2004, as well as the floods in Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
Founded in February 2013, Haiyya was a reaction to the protests around the 2012 Delhi Nirbhaya case. Haiyya believes in people’s desire to create change and the power of grassroots organizing to support young people to create measured results. They do this through their campaigns, by coaching and supporting young leaders, campaigners and entrepreneurs and by consulting big companies on grassroots projects.
Haiyya is building a new leadership fabric in the country that can drive political and social shift through powerful grassroots campaigns.
INDUS Action was founded by students from Harvard and MIT committed to India’s growth and development. It seeks to mobilize public resources and empower communities to solve India's deep-rooted problems in areas such as education, public health, law enforcement and accountability.
Their work is currently focused on the implementation of Clause 12 of the Right to Education (RTE) in New Delhi. Clause 12 of RTE mandates the reservation of 25% seats in entry level classes (Nursery, KG or 1st) in all unaided, non-minority, private schools for children from socially and economically disadvantaged sections. This project has been named Project Eklavya.
In its first edition in 2013-14, Project Eklavya ran during the admission cycle from December through February for 5700 opportunity seats in 295 schools in low income communities of South and Central Delhi. The campaign disseminated information via helpdesks at 10 Gender Resource Centres and 2 Aanganwadi hubs, door-to-door campaigning and street plays. The campaign also supported parents in successfully submitting 3,523 completed applications through the helpdesks and a toll-free helpline. In total, INDUS Action received 2,852 calls and connected with 1,683 families. Through these efforts, 15 percent of the families that came in touch with the campaign secured admission in private schools.
Now in its third edition in Delhi, Project Eklavya is implementing Campaign 3.0 for effective implementation of RTE.
Swechha is an organisation dedicated to enabling ourselves and others around us to ‘Be the Change’, in making a visible difference to the Environment - both Physical and Social. Their mission is to inspire, create and support – a just, equitable and sustainable society, for everyone and forever.
Swechha had its genesis in the year 2000 in the ‘We for Yamuna’ campaign, a collective response to the growing apathy towards one of the most polluted rivers of the world. Since then the organisation has gathered popular and powerful voices for the support of this cause and has emerged as the loudest and strongest voice in India on the matter.
In the last fourteen years of work, Swechha has grown in its Vision, Programs and Outreach. The European Commission, UNDP, UNV, UNEP, The American Embassy, British Council, Nokia Siemens Network, SRTT, CNN International, NDTV etc. are some of the institutions that they have worked with along this journey.
Swechha is one of the Six stories on ‘CNN – Be the Change’ and its activities were reported on CNN every week for one year in 2008-2009, and continues to inspire people all around the world. www.cnn.com/bethechange
Today, their work focuses on three main thrust areas: Education, Environment and Enterprises.