The making of a global changemaker : Monika Khangembam


About Monika Khangembam in her words:

I am Monika studying in Bangalore. I am currently doing my Masters in Public Relation. Recently I was a part of Global Changemakers Asia Youth Summit 2011 organised by British Council. We had a series of screening process from which 60 participants were selected out of 1500 applicants. We were from the age group of 18-24 working in various areas like Human Rights, Climate Change, Poverty, Social Entrepreneurship etc. Four of us from India got shortlisted and other participants from 27 countries.

I advocated about the Armed Forces Power’s Act, 1958 and how adversely it has affected the state. We were taught skill based activities as to how to improve our activism and what kind of practical strategies could be taken up. The facilitators and mentors helped us plan future campaign and grants are yet to be given by British Council(in case we could properly draft how the money is going to be spent). And apart from this, I was able to establish international contacts. I also had the oppotunity to talk to former Under Secretary and now MP Mr. Shashi Tharoor who had shown keen interest in the issue.

It would be nice if more youngsters could join hands to advocate issues of our region – Monika Khangembam

BANGALORE: “We are fighting against the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), which gives the army the power to shoot on suspicion or arrest without warrant. This act has led to the violation of a number of human rights by the army”, says Monika Khangembam, a final year student at Commits Institute of Journalism and Mass Communication, Bangalore, who participated in the British Council Global Changemakers 2011 — Asia Youth Summit, in New Delhi between July 17 and 23.

Monika, originally from Manipur, spent her childhood years in the states of Manipur and Sikkim. She did her under-graduation from Chennai and is currently pursuing Public Relations and wants to use her education to fight for human rights in her home state. “I interned with an NGO called Human Rights Alert, Manipur, which organises protests and creates awareness in cities like New Delhi and Bangalore about the conditions in the North-Eastern states. It was they who informed me about the Youth Summit,” said Monika.

She was one among the 60 ‘global changemakers’ selected from 1,500 student applicants worldwide. “I had to submit an application and go through a screening process. The applicants had to submit a two-minute video showing the kind of work they do and we were interviewed via Skype,” added Monika. Sixty young people from 27 countries, came together to discuss issues close to their hearts, and share their experiences, from climate change to social entrepreneurship and human rights. The selection also comes with substantial financial assistance to these students to carry out their work.

“I spoke about the atrocities committed by the army which is a result of powers given to them by the Act. The enforcement of the AFSPA has resulted in innumerable incidents of arbitrary detention, torture, rape, and looting by security personnel. Instead of being our protectors they are the ones who are torturing the people. The participants from other countries were taken aback as they did not have any idea about the existence of such rules in a democracy,” said Monika while recounting her experiences of the summit.

As a young activist, Monika gave a presentation of the work she did in association with the NGO, which include arranging legal aid and rehabilitation of widows. One of the participants in the programme from UK, Steven Dominique Cheung, a British-Chinese braoadcaster, has promised that he would be making all attempts to raise the human rights violation issue with the European Parliament, and adopt a resolution that would turn the spotlight on Manipur and the struggle against human rights. “It was an eye-opener for me. Interacting with young activists, entrepreneurs, event managers, I learnt about various issues all over the world”, she pointed out.

During the course of the Summit,� Monika met former UN Undersecretary General and former minister of state for external affairs, Shashi Tharoor, who promised his support to any activity she undertook in her fight against human rights violations.

“In India, association with celebrities becomes important if you want to get the attention of the media and the general public. I hope we are able to work towards a permanent solution to the problem,” said Monika

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Published with the permission from Monika Khangembam

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