Students in Mumbai ideate to inspire change

Last Updated: Mar 20, 2015, 18:15 PM IST

From protecting their environment to helping underrated artisans of the country, students from different schools in Mumbai presented a broad spectrum of ideas on education, environment, health and unemployment.

India’s demographic dividend often finds mention in discussions about the country’s future. In the next 40 years, the country is poised to have a younger workforce as compared to the rest of the world. While the young population will certainly lend a quantitative advantage to the country, efforts must be taken to ensure the qualitative growth of this segment too. In order to further this purpose, the Happy India project conducted by IndiaFirst Life Insurance invited innovative ideas of change from school students across the country. Six out of the top 25 teams from different schools of Mumbai presented their ideas on various important topics.

As per ‘The Spunks’, a team of class IX students from DG International School, providing funds for quality education is one of the gravest problems of the nation. The team combined this issue with that of the lack of recognition received by Indian artisans and came up with a solution.

“We decided to give a platform to these artisans to showcase their work and gain deserved recognition. Subsequently, we plan to use the funds collected to help educate underprivileged children,” said Riyaz Halani, one of the team members.

One problem the students faced while executing this project was identifying appropriate artists. “We realised that it was not too helpful to collaborate with artists who deliver in quantity, but not so much in terms of quality,” said Parth Shah, another team member. Despite the hurdles, the team has managed to sell a fifth of their collected paintings through which they’ve already recovered 50 per cent of their cost price.

Yashvardhan Das, a class IX student, and his friends from Ryan International, Kandivali decided to rid their locality of plastic. For this, the four member team approached vendors, shopkeepers, customers and students.

“We distributed pamphlets to everyone in the locality and also started a WhatsApp group which has since grown rapidly,” he said. The group has also performed street plays in different localities in the city to propagate their message.

“One way is to ban it. But we feel that unless the motivation to stop polluting the environment with plastic comes from within, such bans won’t work,” adds Das. While one group from the school focused on making their locality plastic-free, another looked to clean it up.

“One of our team member’s locality did not have a single dustbin in the compound. So we worked with the society members to install bins at different places,” said Mridula Sundarajan, a team member.

Although most teams received complete cooperation from different stakeholders to execute their projects, mentors assigned by the Happy India organising committee also played their part. For instance, one of the student projects involved building eco-friendly roads which would be easier to maintain and devoid of potholes.

“They needed permissions from the BMC to build a road in public place. That’s where I tried to help,” said Naveen Kanchnath, Vice President, RPG Group who was one of the mentors.

Other projects involved making available nutritious foods at reasonable rates by reducing the number of people involved in the food chain and connect the cyclically unemployed class to potential employers.

“In addition to the thoughtful and sustainable ideas, we were pleasantly surprised with the large scale participation of girls who comprised 70-80 per cent of the participants,” concluded Mohit Rochlani, Chief Marketing Officer, IndiaFirst Life Insurance.