We live in unprecedented times, where the context around us speaks volumes about predicament human nature, and the consequences that follow through it. Following the collective good and efforts for communitarian development and growth has been bleak and ever-changing. However, in the times of a global pandemic, a staggering literacy rate coupled with social taboos, stereotypes, discrimination and mass inequality; collectivised development and communitarian uplifting is the need of the hour. In such volatile contexts and situations, one such youth organisation, Initiators of Change stood up to the challenge of filling the void within the development sector while at the same time subsequently breaking boundaries of what the nation’s youth are capable of.
Vision and Ambitions
With a small team, Initiators of Change started out with conclaves and events to manifest awareness, but slowly grew to lead more projects to initiate leadership. They aim to actively make a difference within the society through a structure of three-fold verticals: Awareness, Educational Development and Humanitarian Aid. By organising activities and events like Youth Conclaves, IOC contributes towards materialising a foundation of awareness and consequently a desire for change within the youth demographic. Secondly, the organisation is involved in the educational development of the future generations of our society in remote rural areas of Punjab through their project titled “Project USAARI”. They have not only actualised better living conditions for the students and teachers, but have also worked towards bettering the process of education and working on aspiration-building of individuals within the education institutions. Lastly, the organisation takes up the initiative and effort towards humanitarian aid in specific crisis contexts like the Kerala Floods 2018, Punjab Floods 2020, Farmer’s Movement and 2020-21 Pandemic Aid. They initiated e-rickshaw services, medical camps and free shelter homes near protest sites. For the second wave in COVID, the organisation worked towards mitigating distress by distributing oxygen cylinders, establishing a COVID helpline in Punjab for many months and also serving as a medium of connection between aggrieved patients and the government administrations. The organisation even made an active effort to provide mental support to COVID patients within isolation camps so that they maintain strength and willpower to not lose hope through their struggle. The broad vision of IOC through these goals is to empower the youth and creating the leaders of tomorrow.
The organisation has had multiple projects since its inception that have brought integral change in the lives of many in rural corners of the world. One such example is the “I Vote I Lead” campaign and is one of the pilot projects of the Initiators of Change. It started out in 2017 and is a project aiming towards creating mass voter awareness amongst citizens in Punjab. In 2017, the organisation reached out to around 2.5 lakh citizens and registered around 40,000 new voters which itself was a national record by an organisation. This led the organisation to receive the National Youth Award which essentially was another testament of the ground-level change this organisation has been able to bring. The project got further expanded upon the request of the Chief Electoral Officer and now the organisation moves forward with this campaign in not just Punjab but Delhi and Uttar Pradesh as well, covering all elections within the timeline.
Aspiring Change within the Development Sector: Revamping Organisational Set-ups?
The organisation is not just like any other initiative towards change; the organisation is spearheading a change within the development sector itself. We tend to believe that the non-profit social and civic organisations within the development sectors are altruistic in nature and there aren’t shortcomings and limitations that people should be aware about. However, the inception of organisation addresses these shortcomings within the development sector and serves as a model organisation that promotes balance of goodwill intention, respect and inclusivity for everyone coupled with efficiency and ground level change. Conventionally, the organisational set-ups of civic organisations and NGOs reflect an unnerving hierarchy that doesn’t utilise the minds of youths driven with a motivation for change, which essentially leads to them doubting their own avenues and capabilities to manifest change in the society. The Initiators of Change aims to acknowledge this challenge and has rejuvenated the idea of the capability of youths when they are exposed to a two-fold trade-off of learning and leadership.In this way, the organisation believes to empower youth, promote inclusivity and at the same time deter hierarchical exclusion of the young minds.
Relevance of Adapting to Societal Trends
Moreover, it’s not just about how the organisation is structured, it’s also about how it approaches change. The organisation has revolutionised how change-makers are perceived. They have made development and welfare-building the new ‘cool’ in the society and in that way appealing to a mass of young aspiring people in the society. They realise the utility social platforms (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter etc.) and its tools (Reels, IGTV, Posts etc.) bring. Thus, they make use of such unconventional ways to exacerbate outreach and build up an online momentum that further adds to their already firm credibility and effect.
Challenges and Roadblocks
Organisations need to lead the future by not just creating new young leaders but also establishing a community that manoeuvres the direction that the development sector takes. Young leaders face a lot of challenges within the industry. They find it hard to be taken seriously in their own space where conventional leaders and hierarchical mindsets struggle to put their heads around the idea that young people can bring change on their own. Secondly, political leaders and bureaucrats try their best to strong-arm such organisations due to their own power insecurities because these organisations fill in the void left by the inadequacies of our political structures. Lastly, financial avenues are always a challenge for civic organisations but it’s one that they are prepared to take on with full momentum and motivation as they let their work speak for themselves. These challenges are always obstructing the youth’s willpower and desire for change, but the organisations like The Initiators of Change can put forth a testament for budding civic groups within the development sector.The organisation believes that aiming to revolutionise our perspectives towards what we as individuals can achieve is extremely important. Acknowledging challenges, and making adequate effort towards moving beyond them is one of the most important guiding principles for social and civic groups.