23rd March 2020
India is full of inspiring young women who are working hard towards raising awareness about important issues. Meet Tanya Ballal, a final-year Human Centred Design student from the Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology in Bengaluru. After noticing a lack of understanding and interest in politics among India’s younger generations, she embarked on a project to help Indian youth learn about the Indian political system.
“Why should only our parents discuss politics or understand it? Even youngsters or school-going children have the right to know about it all, after all, we are the future citizens of India”, says Tanya speaking to edexLive.
Through this project, Tanya is hoping to provide India’s youth with the mechanisms to formulate their own political opinions. She says, “We all know that when the elections happen, we tend to be influenced by the thoughts and opinions of our family members before casting our vote. But I feel strongly that each one of us must have our own opinions when we vote. My project is about starting conversations among people to discuss the political parties in our country”.
Tanya conducted extensive research, learning that 46 per cent of Indian youth are not interested in politics. She designed and conducted workshops, the first of which was held on the 11th of March 2020 with 20 participants. Of the 20 participants, only three had voted in the elections. “Before I began my project, I spoke to a lot of experts, read up on parts of the Constitution and the process of elections, as well as emotional mapping – a powerful geo-participation tool that helps one understand the journey of the place and its voters”. The workshops made use of cue cards and group work, and encouraged participants to discuss, compare and identify with political ideologies and agendas. Tanya says, “The workshop ended with some self-reflection where every individual talked about their criteria for picking a candidate to vote for in the future”.
Going forward, Tanya tells edexLive she is hoping to provide a tool kit “that will include an instruction booklet of why to vote, the registration process, a glossary of ‘political’ words, cue cards and another booklet of national parties and their agendas”. The hope is that these tool kits will be used by youth in various parts of the country.
Tanya’s hard work and dedication extend beyond this fantastic political project. In the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, Tanya Ballal has organised a network of 20 volunteers in her locality in Bengaluru who are keeping in touch with shopkeepers and are willing to pick up medicines or food. “She aims to help senior citizen or people with disabilities as they are being hard hit by this”.