It is very important to introduce new traditions, that are more democratic, moving further towards Constitutional values, on days of national importance like 15th August, that is Indian Independence Day. This is exactly what youth leaders in Rahtoli, Badlapur and Kolegaon, Dombivali did successfully, by bringing various stakeholders and community members together for social causes, to pledge our stand against violence and orthodoxy, and for rights and dignity of each person.

The energy with which people accepted these new ideas, showed that society too wants more progressive, inclusive traditions.

Youth leaders in Rahtoli gave voice to their expressions of #freedom – against the hold of superstitions and addiction on our mental health. They presented streetplays to great applause in front of community members, many of whom appreciated their courageous presentations and pledged their support against such anti-social elements. The youth problematized both concepts, highlighting how it is not the individual’s or family’s fault when they succumb to superstitions or addiction, but a sign of failing social, political, administrative support systems, due to which people have to take the support of such practices in lack of other more healthy options. This was the first ever such celebration in Rahtoli on 15th August.

Youth leaders in Kolegaon have been discussing about the rising risk to women and girls’ safety due to the pandemic. The last two years has seen a roll back on women and girls’ rights in the home as well as in public spaces, and the youth have been doing streetplays to spread awareness and ask people to take a stand against this violence since February this year. For 15th August, the youth decided to focus on sexual harassment in public places. They printed posters with a list of common behaviours by young men, which amount to sexual harassment and other crimes by law, and with helpline numbers that women and girls may use. They invited varied stakeholders including women police, health workers, ICDS teachers & sevikas, ASHA workers, SHG members, community leaders and inaugurated this poster with speeches, presentations and songs explaining the concept. They will be putting up the posters at various spots in their village throughout this month.

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