700+ city youth engage on all things ‘urban’
What do Mumbai’s youth make of their city and its development trajectory? What space do they feel the city offers them for their development? How are they planning to work together to make this a better city in future?
Youth for Unity and Voluntary Action (YUVA), in partnership with Godrej Salon-i, presented the third edition of Making Mumbai on Sunday 17 February 2019, a day dedicated to youth engagements. The event was attended by 700+ youth from across the city, from areas as diverse as Jogeshwari, Mankhurd, Tatanagar (Navi Mumbai), Bandra, and so on.
The event was graced by renowned writer and poet J. V. Pawar who encouraged youth efforts and reminded them about the power of their collective action. ‘The responsibility to drive change rests with each one of us. We need to remove caste and class barriers and work with one another. I always think of myself as a 75-year-old youth’, he said. Pawar spoke about the importance of a democracy, and the need to respect the Constitution.
Youth and identity
The day began with a youth panel on claiming identities, where 7 youth from across the city, spoke about their struggles and demands set against different backgrounds.
Shashank from Sanjay Gandhi National Park described the struggles in accessing basic services. ‘We need to walk 6–7 km just to access schools. Though we have been living in the Park for decades, there is no provision of basic services. We need your support’, he said.
Sana from Dharavi talked about why it is so important to focus on identity building, and how the strongest thrust on identity formation comes from one’s own efforts. ‘We need to keep demanding for our rights till they are realised’, she said.
While Sanjay spoke about working with disabled youth, and how we need to focus on demanding for more inclusive spaces and facilities, Ajay discussed the changing face of Navi Mumbai over the decades and how the greenfield city has not given space to those who helped build it. ‘People living in the bastis built Navi Mumbai, but they have lost their identities and been subject to repeated evictions. We need to talk about them’, he said.
Pooja from Ambujwadi spoke about living in one of many ‘gumshuda’ bastis of the city, and how the youth collective she is a part of has led the Missing Identity campaign to reclaim identities in city spaces. ‘Our street plays, film screenings, and information sharing sessions with the community have helped us talk more about identities with one another’, she said.
While Saraswati from Lallubhai Compound, Mankhurd, appealed to the youth to vote responsibly in the upcoming elections, Deepa from the transgender community, shared identity struggles throughout the years and the need for more gender sensitization and awareness sessions.
‘The talks were very interesting. I got to know a lot of things that I would not have known otherwise’, said 22-year-old Humaira Shaikh from Bandra, reflecting on the panel discussion.
Stalls were also present at the venue on beauty and wellness, diary making, waste management, to dispel superstitions and more. They were opened once the panel discussion was through, and the youth spent their day attending these stalls and getting to know a range of information, apart from the exciting activities and engagements.
The Godrej Salon-i stall was especially popular, with the youth flocking there in large numbers for different kinds of styling, nail art and more. The engagements here were led by the youth themselves, trained under the Godrej Salon-i course, a beauty and wellness course that imparts a mix of technical and life-skills to adolescent girls.
‘I really enjoyed the stalls, and would like more such events to be organised in future’, said 21-year-old Roshan from Goregaon.
The event ended with some energetic cultural performances.
About Making Mumbai
Making Mumbai was first organised in 2017, where the youth discussed urban conditions they experience, access to basic services, and their vision for an inclusive city. They took forward this campaign to build solidarity and drive awareness on collective ideas of inclusivity. The efforts of the youth led to claiming safe spaces across multiple areas in Mumbai, and a film was screened on the same at Making Mumbai 2018.
The youth event is YUVA’s flagship event of ComplexCity, an annual festival to engage with city audiences on the urban and recognise and celebrate urban differences. During ComplexCity (from 13–24 February 2019), YUVA aimed to celebrate urban values, history, culture, socio-economic realities and much more, with audiences across Mumbai and Navi Mumbai, through a series of events open to all in the city, to promote the debate and discussion on all things urban. This is so that people can get a better understanding of these constantly changing city spaces and the role individuals can play in co-creating inclusive and democratic cities. Each programme aimed to offer knowledge-sharing platforms and spaces, to help people engage with and appreciate a range of perspectives.To know more about ComplexCity, visit www.yuvaindia.org/events