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Small kids come with big ideas for Happy India

MUMBAI: Over 15,000 young students in the age groups of 11 years to 16 years from across 304 schools from across the country enthusiastically sent in their ideas for the IndiaFirst’s Happy India. A jury has selected 25 final ideas to be executed by as many teams. IndiaFirst Life Insurance is helping execute these projects over a period of 40 days with a grant of Rs 50,000 each and with some industry stalwarts mentoring them. While working with their ideas, some student groups have already launched their pilots. For instance, a Vijayawada school team called Happy India raised some noise about   the lack of education and even access to an island village Pamula Lanka that gets surrounded with water during the monsoon and thus gets cut off. The Happy India team inspired the Zilla Parishad chairperson to start work on a bridge to the island and move the AP Government for additional funds to complete the work. This will enable the villagers commute across to the mainland apart from facilitating the young Happy India team to go there and run classes for children there. A team from Bhopal came up with a novel idea to implement Swatch Bharat drive organizing Bal Panchayats in eight schools to mobilize students to maintain cleanliness in the toilets and wash basins. A Jaipur school team has shown keenness to incentivize people to shift habits and use shopping bags made with used clothes. The students plan to sell the bags at shopping malls and give them parking coupons.  As a pre-cursor, they spread awareness about the hazards of using plastic bags through various skits and road shows and have already inspired over 400 families to follow their example. A Nashik school has shown interest in checking female feticide and run self-defense classes for girls. Focusing on an energy saving drive, a team from Hyderabad has suggested promotion of use of solar appliances. Pic3 Pic4 Pic2 Many teams demonstrated their concern for street children and child laborers who toil for meager wages when they should be playing or going to schools. The school going children presented ideas to promote literacy among the less fortunate ones and even organize for teaching skill sets so that they can better their lives. Two teams from Vijayawada came up with the idea of planting and maintaining trees and staging street plays and skits to spread awareness about green environment. A team from Vizag evinced interest in ‘each-one-teach-one concept to spread literacy - first by making elders realize the importance of educating their children and then conducting classes for the young ones. A Mumbai school conceived a project to build a Swast Bharat (Healthy India) by ensuring everyone has the right to basic vegetables at a price they can afford by with a cross-subsidization model where the middle income as well as the low income populace gets the cost benefit of getting vegetables directly from the wholesalers. Pot holes are a major nuisance in Mumbai and many other cities in India where motorists keep protesting to the municipal corporations over the awful state of the roads. Here, a team from the Island City decided to take things in their hands, use waste plastic and construct a road that is not only solid and durable but also less expensive than the conventional material. Reckless garbage disposal and overflowing bins cause a major nuisance in many cities. To tackle this, a Mumbai school has come with the idea of awards for maintaining cleanliness in the streets by encouraging proper methods of using garbage bins. Moving ahead on the same idea, a Vijayawada team did a pilot project with sensor-based garbage bins. The bins send out light signals once the garbage gets converted into organic manure which the village folk can use in their farms or kitchen gardens. Contaminated water is the cause of many diseases in the country and keeping this in mind, two different teams form Vijayawada suggested medical camps and supply of pure drinking water to keep people healthy. Another team from the Andhra city is keen to promote education based on Shantiniketakan model with emphasis on practical learning and giving back to the society rather than mere theoretical studies. Commenting on the success of Happy India, Mr. Mohit Rochlani, Chief Marketing Officer IndiaFirst Life Insurance said: “Through Happy India, our endeavor is to involve the future generation in the nation building activity. We hope this small step from IndiaFirst will lead to a big leap forward for the next generation. We are overwhelmed by the response from school students across the country. The enthusiasm and talent that was witnessed was truly inspiring to us elders. Seeing these students actually implement their ideas is a great experience,”. Mr. R S Setia, Director and CEO, IndiaFirst Life Insurance and Chief General Manager, Bank of Baroda, said, “It feels great to see children with such beautiful dreams which can  be realized with a little effort and bring about change in our country. These are the children who are future of our nation and we are proud to give a platform like Happy India for children.” In all, Happy India received 1,042 ideas from students between 11 to 16 years old with focus on key areas such as Education, Health, Energy Conservation, Security, Environment Protection and Financial Inclusion. The initiative is being supported by Bank of Baroda and Andhra Bank, while the validation and process authentication is being overlooked by KPMG in India – Process Evaluators, the Knowledge Partners. The Happy India national conclave from IndiaFirst Life Insurance was held today in Mumbai, which showcased ideas from the top 25 teams and its impact to the audience of corporate honchos and key public figures. The efforts of these students will be published in the ‘Young Change Makers’ compendium, jointly created by IndiaFirst and Shristhi Publishers. The compendium will also feature the Mentors’ perspective on building a Happy India. Happy India: Final 25 Projects
City School Name Project Description Impact
Hyderabad Sankriti The School With a motive to rise the literacy rate in their locality and eventually across the state and then the country, this group has decided to teach small children. They plan to help the kids who work as laborers, maid servants, in hotels as waiters or dishwashers etc. This group aims at reaching out to the slums and teaching these deprived kids at least basic skills that will help them read, write and comprehend. §  Started Sanskriti Bal Gurukul§  Convinced 15 students to join§  Underprivileged kids discovered a new meaning to education §  Inspired their school to keep the good work going permanently
Vijaywada KCP Siddhartha Public School Pamulalanka, a small village located adjacent to the region of Vijayawada. This village which comprises of almost 3000 villagers is deprived of even the basic provisions of government elementary or secondary schools. Kids from this village have to walk 3-4 km in order to reach the neighboring villages and attend schools. And this is a major factor keeping the village away from education. The Happy India team aims at finding a solution to this problem by arranging means and ways to educate the kids as well as grown-ups from this village at Pamulalanka itself. §  Raised some noise and made the change happen§  Inspired the Zile Parishad Chairperson to start work on building the bridge and approach the AP Ministry for the balance fund needed§  Enabling the village to walk shoulder to shoulder with others
Vijaywada Flora English School Aspire to bring India up on the list of world’s most literate nations, starting from their village. They plan to reach out to every household in the village, explaining them the benefits of literacy and education. This will help inspiring the villagers to attend various courses and classes which will be organized by these kids as a part of their project. §  Understanding the day of the farmer, they held awareness programs in the evening§  They adopted an alternative method to educate them by performing Harikatha and Burakatha - the traditional and cultural art forms of storytelling§  500 village adults realized its better late than never and decided to educate themselves
Mumbai Ryan International School, Kandivli (E) Are all set to make commuting easy with improved roads in one of the busiest cities of India. They aim to make eco-friendly roads that will be free from pot-holes along with being cheaper on their maintenance cost. In order to bring this project live, the kids have decided to use recyclable tones of X-ray films, cups, plates, carry bags along with organic waste. §  Collected 52.8 kgs of shredded plastic§  Getting the civic body to permit them to re-lay a 50 meter single stretch of road§  At no extra cost of road construction §  With a 15% cost reduction
Vizag Ramakrishna School Plans to villagers from the locality with essential toilets that can connect to bio-degradable waste digesters. Through this initiative, the kids also aim to motivate people to contribute towards the environment and also assure them some amount of financial help through funds. §  Got support from locals and government officials§  Were allocated land to install bio-toilets§  Impacted lives of 15 households
Bhopal Bal Bhavan School Focus on the issue of cleanliness and sanitation in schools. Their concerns are not limited to unavailability of basic essentials in schools like clean and safe toilets, drinking water facilities or even wash basins; instead they want to focus on the maintenance of these facilities. §  Got support from 8 schools to set up Bal Panchayats
Vijaywada Nalanda Vidya Niketan Vasantha Campus Plan to create awareness about cleanliness within the area of Poranki. They also plan to organize medical camps and dispense necessary vaccines to the people in the said area. §  More than 500 villagers attended the medical camp§  Over 35 cataract operations were done free 
Mumbai Poddar International School Want to build a healthier society by making available healthy and nutritious foods at reasonable rates. To do so, these kids will voluntarily transport fruits and vegetables from the farmers or wholesale markets, directly to the customers. They aim at minimizing the number of people involved in the food chain and are confident that this will result in bringing down the prices as well as making healthy foods accessible to everyone at reasonable rates. §  Over 150 underprivileged families are now living healthy§  Their campaign created a positive noise, compelling the NGO - Green Charitable Trust to take up their cause of a Swasth Bharat 
Vizag Visaka Valley School Are eager to provide education to every kid from the Rushikonda and Endada village. And to do this, they want to first teach the uneducated adults and make them realize how educating their kids can aid to their financial as well as lifestyle development. The team also looks forward on encouraging the ‘each one, teach one’ drive, wherein every educated school kid will initiate in helping and teaching some other deprived kid. §  Reached out to 132 families and advocated the need for education§  Created the right buzz§  Got support from a Professor to volunteer his time  
Vizag M.S.M (English Medium) School Before they proceed with educating the people (especially the socio-economically lower classes) these children want to begin with understanding the reasons why the people have turned their faces from education and the related factors which hold them back. And then, the group will carry forward its literacy drive and ignite the desire in these people to step forward and claim their right to education. §  Managed to convince 69 children for or whom they held classes, encouraging them to study
Vijaywada Atkinson Ss School Aims to bring about a change in the education system by encouraging the Shantinikhetan study pattern, wherein, physical fitness, every student’s responsibility towards the society as well as the environment and practical learning will be emphasized a lot more rather than just concentrating on textual theories. They plan to work on a pilot project within their school premises for start with. §  Helped kids develop holistically§  Enjoying what they are learning 
Mumbai DG Khetan Indian art is often appreciated in the global markets, but still most of our artisans who make handicrafts and paintings are still underrated. They are still deprived of getting the special treatment and an improved lifestyle. The team wants to take these Indian artisans directly to a global level by developing and marketing a website to sell these good directly thereby raising their standard of living and providing their kids with the best possible education. §  8 paintings were sold§  2 deserving students had their future secured§  They also convinced their school to continue this activity with different volunteer groups  
Jaipur Step by Step High School They aim to reduce pollution by reducing the use of plastic bags and other waste material.   For this they plan to get donations from people i.e. old rugged clothes worn-out clothes and give them a donation card which can then be redeemed for a cloth bag (that will be made out of the donations). They will also take an oath to go green. These bags will also be sold to people shopping in malls who will in turn be given free parking coupons. §  Saw their team of 4 becoming a team of 400§  Almost all of their cloth bags were sold and the profit earned was shared amongst the unskilled workers 
Mumbai Ryan International School, Kandivli (E) In order to free the environment from unnecessary use of plastic, at least to start with, free their locality, the team has decided to approach the fruits and vegetable vendors, shopkeepers and other sellers. They want to try a different approach by providing these vendors with paper bags or cloth bags and do away with the plastic from their locality and the environment. §  Convinced a over 75% of the shops visited to avoid using plastic
Vijaywada Atkinson Ss School Plans to spread awareness in their locality about the threats plastic bags and plastic waste cause to the surroundings. They also plan to make available eco-friendly carry bags and all the other essential alternatives to the people in their locality in order to encourage them to opt for using these pollution-free alternatives. §  Spread awareness to hundreds of people§  Convinced their school to make paper bag making a regular part of their arts and craft 
Hyderabad Sankriti The School Taken up the responsibility of spreading awareness and encouraging people to use non-conventional energy source, thereby helping preserve exhaustible resources. For this, they plan to reach out to every household in their locality, explain them about the necessity to use the solar energy and also guide them on using solar appliances. §  Reached out to over 500 locals§  Developing impressive views about solar energy§  Convinced 35 households to experiment with solar appliances, in just 3 days
Mumbai Poddar International School While unemployment is a major concern haunting even the people with best of qualifications, this group wants to work with the seasonally and cyclically unemployed.   Taking into consideration the skills, educational qualifications, desire to work of the unemployed persons along with the other external factors this group aims to bring together the unemployed with employers. They also plan to tie up with agencies that can help provide basic skills to these unemployed persons. §  Over thousand resumes were registered§  Few of them, got the job interview on the same day§  These resumes were also shared with HR consultancy firms §  Launched a website – www.teamnext.in, to get corporate as well as those unemployed to register
Nashik Philomena School Decided to take the baton of empowering women in their locality through various activities. This includes helping them be self-sufficient to combat in case of emergencies and ensure their own security by organizing basic, root level classes such as martial art classes in the locality. They also plan to ensure no female foeticide in their area of action and also provide females there are provided with regular medical and nutritional check-ups. §  In a span of 40 days, they reformed lives of many women and gave them courage to walk freely around the locality
Vizag Visaka Valley School Child labor is one of the most horrid challenges haunting our country. Tthis team has decided to empower the needy kids by teaching them some basic vocational, technical as well communication skills in order to make them financially independent and less prone to falling prey to menial labor. §  Managed to shape lives of 70 women§  Opening doors of opportunities for them
Vijaywada H.M.K High School Plans to create awareness programs about maintaining cleanliness and encouraging them to use dustbins. They plan to do this by designing interesting dustbins and ensuring the waste in them is decomposed in the right way at the right place and time. §  Distributed 7 dustbins in the first phase,§  Affecting over 25 families 
Mumbai Ryan International School, Kandivli (E) To help maintain the cleanliness in their locality, this team is all set to put up enough number of dustbins in the locality. They also want to monitor the behavior of pet owners taking care that they do not dirty the surroundings. And to encourage this discipline among the citizens the group is also willing to offer prizes. §  Pet owners got committed to use digesters§  Two societies endorsed their initiatives and have made them permanent
Vijaywada Kcp Siddhartha Students from Jakkumpudi village along with having some basic awareness campaigns that will talk about health and sanitation, also plan to conduct seminars on taking care of infants as well small children. They also plan to set up free medical camps and provide pure drinking water to avoid water borne diseases. §  The cleaner streets won the hearts of the villagers§  Approached the Zila Parishad President and the local Coporator to provide a permanent clean-up mechanism to the village 
Vizag Balaji Public School Plans to take up the PM’s initiative of keeping their surrounding areas clean and inspiring others to do the same – through positive as well as negative incentivization.   In addition, they also plan to plant sapling around the areas that are being cleaned to ensure a clean and green India. §  Inspired over a 100 locals to be part of their Clean and Green India drive
Hyderabad Sankriti The School Are all set to make their locality a cleaner and greener place by planting saplings and encouraging others from the locality to join them in taking care of these plants by watering and fertilizing them adequately. They also plan to enact skits and street plays to garner attention from the residents and motivate them to help in their miniscule but sincere efforts of building a greener locality. §  Convinced 30 households to provide space for planting trees§  Giving residents clean air to breathe! 
Hyderabad Sankriti The School Have come up with a possible solution to the problem of scarcity and hence rising price of fuel. They have found a way to make fuel from the rubber tyres of vehicles. The first step being getting the necessary government sanction for the space and machinery required. Hence, these kids have decided to begin with spreading awareness about the same. §  Tied up with KGN Industries§  Having lined up a pilot test for March 2015§  If successfully, cost of industrial fuel will be reduced by 15-20%

About Sanjay Trivedi

Sanjay Trivedi is honorary editor of Asia Times. He is senior Indian Journalist having vast experience of 25 years. He worked in Janmabhoomi, Vyapar, Divya Bhaskar etc. newspapers and TV9 Channel as well as www.news4education.com. He also served as Media Officer in Gujarat Technological University.

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