Somebody once told me that the people you surround yourself with, change the chemical make-up of your being. Very technically put, we all have a certain number of connections between different parts of our brains. When we spend a significant amount of time with certain people, these people bring about new connections in the brain. In other words: the people you live and work with for a lengthy period of time, influence the way you regard and live life permanently (whether you want it or not).
I can imagine the same to have happened during my internship at the Centre for Social Research. It seems like only yesterday that I was ‘the new girl in the office’. In a few days from now, however, it will already be time for me to leave. As I am moving on, I am mindful to leave the door behind me open. If there is one thing I have learned to appreciate of the various Indian subcultures I have taken part in over the last two years, it must be the way people say ‘goodbye’. It is actually never really a goodbye. You always leave by saying “maiaarahihu”; I am coming. Once new connections have been made, they are there to stay.
So what new connections did I make during my internship period here?
Firstly and most importantly, I have had the privilege to interact and connect with an energetic group of social activists. They have taught me to work with determination, optimism and a little bit of self-reflexive humour. They have showed me how to survive fighting for gender justice in a world which structurally tries to disrupt feminism at its roots. Everyone, from management to housekeeping employees, has been able to impress me with their professionalism, kindness and commitment to social equality. It is so inspiring really to be part of a team which connects to well with my personal world vision. It makes me want to work harder and learn more and that, for me, is one of the best feelings in the world.
Secondly, I have learned to make new connections between different aspects of the socio-economic organisation of gender relations in Indian society. The conference on Pre-Natal Sex Selection has highlighted the connections between sex selective practices and newly emerging Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ARTs) such as gestational surrogacy for example. This was something I had not thought about before. Additionally I have discovered (as I was interning at the Media Division) how powerful online media can be in facilitating discussions between large groups of people and connecting these groups our ideas about gender and sexuality.
Lastly, I have learned about the importance of being connected through the major project I was involved with; the development of the Welfare Schemes App for Women and Girls of India, #SoSec. It was my responsibility to develop the content of the app and for this I needed to do a lot of research. In my research I came across data on the social hurdles for women and girls to access the social welfare schemes they are eligible to. Outdated and inefficient communication, insensitive to women’s differential needs and realities, around the schemes leads to women being uninformed about the available schemes and thus missing out on the resources the Government allocates for their benefit. Connecting women to what they are actually entitled to will be a major challenge for responsible governance of the coming years.
For now these are the connections which my brain has consciously processed and reminded of. I am sure a lot of other mysterious chemical changes in my brain have occurred over the last few months, which might become more evident to me over time. Until further notice, I leave the open door enriched by new learnings, laughs and memories. I hopeall of us remain connected.
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