Shaking up the status quo with a zor ka jhatkaa

Activist Tania Devaiah explains what social activism involves, why it is such a challenge, her background in activism.

Published: 08th August 2016 06:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 07th August 2016 12:09 PM   |  A+A-


Activist Tania Devaiah explains what social activism involves, why it is such a challenge, her background in activism

Being an activist is no easy thing, especially in India. With countless issues to be resolved, a general lack of awareness and needing to take on big, powerful firms, there is a need for activism being carried out in a systematic manner. Tania Devaiah, 31, is one such activist who, through the organisation Jhatkaa, is constantly fighting battles. She attributes her interest in activism to being “brought up in a family that discussed social and political issues.” Now a volunteer campaigner at Jhatkaa, Tania has worked with other organisations too. Jhatkaa reaches out to certain officials as part of its campaigns and carries out online petitions on issues. One of its major victories was the successful campaign against Unilever, with the firm having been forced to pay compensation to its former workers in Kodaikanal. Speaking about Jhatkaa’s role in the campaign, Tania says, “I think Jhatkaa’s role was that of an amplifier. We came in at a juncture where the campaign was looking to shake up the status quo. We were able to partner with the activists and the ex-workers and give our expertise on how to use new technology to engage more people, media strategy and also figure out whom to rope in to make a big impact.” Tania also acknowledged Sofia Ashraf’s role in the campaign as ‘pivotal’ in making the issue relatable to the public. Tania reckons the awareness about environmental issues in the country is increasing. She says, “It’s heartening to see how people respond to our campaigns. And many of these issues are not simple to understand, but there’s an inclination among the people to understand them and contribute, which for me provides a glimmer of hope.” Tania thinks the main challenge for her and for organisations like Jhatkaa is “to break down the issue into an understandable concept, especially while talking about a policy document or a law.”

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