Sadiya Shaikh - For Tackling Any Issue in the World We Need to Be Educated (Student Leader & Awardee of the Global Women Inspiration Award and Conclave 2021)

Sadiya shaikh
Pic Credits: @Shadabrazaa

I believe that for any social change to be brought about, it's the privileged and the educated members of the community who need to step up and stand in allyship with the marginalized, and only through education, can they stand a fair shot with the favored class. My parents always tell us about their past life, and every time they also tell us that we are not trying to gain sympathy from you'll be telling you our past.

1. How have your family, background, and childhood impacted you to become the socially aware and responsible individual you are today?
 
I was born in Deora Bandhauli, a small village in Darbhanga district of Bihar, but my family decided to migrate to the city when I was just 3 years old, for a better education that would ensure me a better future. As my parents couldn't afford to study because of poverty, they even have to work hard for two-time meals, but my father worked hard so that he can provide me all the best things for my future.

When I came to Mumbai I studied for one year in a municipal school in Mumbai after that I got admitted to a Private English High school, where I studied 3 years after that I went to Madrasa in Malegaon for my further studies, I studied there all the board syllabus along with our Islamic syllabus where I learned many things from our Islamic knowledge to our social studies. Then after my S.S.C exam, I came back to Mumbai and I took admission in the college, and now at the age of 19 y/o, I'm the final year student of B.A in sociology and eng literature. From my childhood, I was very much active in cultural activities.

Throughout my life I have accomplished many achievements like many awards and certificates in speech completions (Eng, Urdu, Marathi) lang from my childhood, I was always appreciated for being a good student in academic performance as well as in external activities, even I got selected for YIC (Young India Challenge) organization 2020 at National level which was going to held on 22nd-23rd Feb 2020 but got canceled because of the pandemic.

But I believe achievements are not just about getting a certificate or award but sometimes it's also about knowing the inner power of your own self at a right time, I'm saying this because during my second year of graduate study. In Dec 2019 when the Anti -CAA, NRC bill was passed in parliament and many JMI, JNU students were on the road for protesting they faced the brutality of the police, many students were injured, bled, and admitted to hospitals.

Disturbed by the Jamia incident, I became a part of these protests to challenge the brutality of state-sponsored violence on the students of Jamia in Delhi, even though I got a strict warning from my college, some of my family members  for  joining this protest but “I thought if we choose to be silent now then distorting the constitution and atrocities on students will become the norm"

I feel proud discussing that I had studied democracy as a subject but now, “I am practically trying to exercise what I was studying till now”. This movement has brought a change in me, I read more about history now, I started focusing on political activities as well as social activities, and thus because of the improvement in my thinking skills I had to manage to start a community library movement.

In this fastest growing world, there are many causes I care deeply for my country but the main cause is low-quality education, Increase in the rate of illiteracy in our country. As I brought a change in my life only because my parents worked hard for me to get quality education. Because I think lack of education is the major root of any issue. And for tackling any issue we need to be educated because education gives us the power to change the whole world. 

I believe that for any social change to be brought about, it's the privileged and the educated members of the community who need to step up and stand in allyship with the marginalized, and only through education, can they stand a fair shot with the favored class. My parents always tell us about their past life, and every time they also tell us that we are not trying to gain sympathy from you'll be telling you our past.

But I want you all to remember this, so whenever you found someone in the same condition around yourself you can help them out with the power of your education, even though my parents are not educated but this talk has stuck in my mind and also because of Our ALLAH (SWT) said in the Holy Quran that: "All that is on earth will perish" and we have experienced this almost, that nothing is permanent in this world. When we'll die we won't take any wealth with us, the things that will remain unchanged was our good morals, works, memories of doing good with others.

That's why we need to rethink our duties and responsibilities towards our society and need to work on that, that's why I planned to start a movement of community Libraries with coaching centers in villages of Bihar and help to enroll the students in their local schools so that at a time we can help many people to get good quality education.

This community library has the potential to help many children in the village. It will encourage them to not stop schooling which in turn will mean fewer children working in fields and even child marriage for so many girls. This also means villages with better education, empowered and developed. And whatever I do today is obvious because of the support of my background, my family, my education, etc, who was with me and who was against me in any way the helped me to become what I am today.

2. You have advocated for people’s rights in multiple issues like education, women empowerment, safety, and religious harmony. What according to you is the role of youngsters in changing today’s world to become a better place?

We all know that the whole world is busy racing with each other for power, for wealth, etc, and for gaining all these things we fail to protect humanity, moral values.

In today's time, I see that hating against one another in the name of religion, caste, creed, sex is getting normal, but we as an educated youngster who should have the responsibility to think about it, to raise their voice against this.. we are busy in the race of getting more and more wealth for our future and because of this we have forgotten to live our today, we forgot that we just don't have the duty towards our future but we also have some responsibility for the society, for the country in which we are living as it's citizens. 

And I know that there are still many youngsters who are working hard to bring positive changes in our society, for our beloved country and I hope that surely we'll succeed one day. I just want all my youngsters' fellows to remember one thing that getting an education, working hard for getting a high-paid job should not be the only priority for us to secure our and the future of our upcoming generations.
 
There is a quote that I found helpful in my life is:

"When we live in a democracy, we live in hazard. There is no amendable god in it, no particular concern or particular mercy. Because Democracy works with the active cooperation of all perspective citizens which means helping the nation not only by paying tax and giving votes but also in time and thought too."

I believe that youngsters have the more power to change the world if they will do and so I just want to tell them that for any social change to be brought about, it's the privileged and the educated members of the community who need to step up and stand in allyship with the marginalized, and only through education, can they stand a fair shot with the favored class. 

So we need to rethink our duties and responsibilities towards making the world a better place not just for us but for our upcoming generations too.
Because Books do not discriminate against who is reading them, so everyone is entitled to them."If we want to change society, we have to take everyone with us in our progress."

3. The Maulana Azad library in Deora stands out as one of your greatest accomplishments to date. Would you like to share with us the story of your challenges, inspiration, and success in the process of developing Deora’s first and only library?

When the lockdown was announced earlier this year I went back to my village Deora Bandhauli with my family I came to realize that financially strong families like my have been able to migrate to rural centers for better prospects or have sent the children to cities for better education but what about those who cannot afford this?

The children go to with the village government-run school but they do not have access to basic facilities that you and I take for granted like a good quality book for studies a lot of time villagers have no option but to withdraw their wards from school because they cannot afford to buy even syllabus books prescribed. How will children receive education in such a scenario?

Children are forced to discontinue their studies and put to work in a field which is the major cause of the increase in child labor this happens in successive generation in many villages and as a result, we remain and developed illiterate and backward I want help to change this I want to help every child who is suffering because of poverty to take advantage of opportunities and only a good education can give them just like I have been able to. 

Thus I wanted to start a community library in my believes that will provide free syllabus and additional supports materials to all children from class 1 to 12 to graduation and even competitive exam aspirants, and now we are providing them all the Bihar board academic books, CBSE board Books, daily newspaper in two languages, and also monthly magazine, with many kinds of literature, comics, art materials, sports..etc. 

And now with the help of my donors, friends, the family I've successfully run 2 libraries with additional coaching classes in two districts of Bihar and now working for opening the 3rd one. 

When I sat down with my family elders and proposed the idea of the library. Many shook their heads in disagreement – this wasn’t how a young girl should spend her time.  After many discussions, I finally convinced them, and gained access to my relatives’ guesthouse, renovating it with almost 5,000 rupees ($67)

So before the library opened, a few neighbors turned against me. Some, with great delight, prophesied that things would soon go south. But “if I continue to listen to others, I’ll never be able to achieve anything, “The only way I can prove anything to anyone is to let them keep talking, while I keep working.” Because I know whatever I'm doing is not going to harm anyone but going to help the whole community one day, and I believed in Allah, that one day they'll (community)surely understand the importance of my work.

4. As a young Indian woman with inspiring aspirations, have you had to combat patriarchy in your journey? What would you advise young girls facing similar challenges?

Yes, obviously I had and still have to combat patriarchy in my journey, and I think that this fight is never going to end because it's not a physical disease that can be cured by medicine or therapy, but this is something which has become the part of their life, they can't live without it, this will only going to end when the world will end. 

But we as a woman have to be strong enough to resist, we should have that much patience to endure their nonsense while keep working on our dream, because we can't stop our journey just because of some stones, or any other things coming into our path, we should have the power to throw them away, or should know to jump high from that so we can continue our journey and reach to our destiny. 

So Be brave, be strong and be ready to fight with this world, because we have to be our own heroes, no one is going to come for us and we don't even have to wait for someone else to come for us. We just have to enough for ourselves.

5. You have been an active voice in the anti-CAA/NRC protests. What is your take on Indian secularism? What do you think is the role of a nation’s government and its citizens in creating a harmonious, non-hostile environment for everyone?

I was a citizen of this country I believe in the constitution. And whatever I've learned till now about our rights (citizens/ individuals) I'm trying to practicing it in our real life.  I've learned that India is the world's largest democratic country where people from any caste, creed, sex, religion, or region have equal rights to give vote and chose their representatives.

We have the right to practice our religious beliefs, we have the right to raise our voice, to question our government if we have doubts about any new amendment or if we found something unconstitutional, and that's what we are trying to do since Dec 2019 till today. But I think In today's time we are no longer a democratic country but have become an autocratic country which is now not for the people, by the people, of the people but we have become for the government, by the government, of the government. 

When we live in a democracy, we live in Hazard and there is no amendable god in it, no particular concern or particular mercy because democracy work's with the active cooperation of all perspective citizens, not just by the government, So it's our duty to remind them their duty towards the country. But instead of thinking about the development, the progress of our nation without any discrimination, the government is still busy fighting on religious issues. 

I think for creating harmony in the country; citizens and government needs to respect one another religious beliefs and should not try to indulge in their matters as far as it doesn't become a threat to our country's security.

There is a quote that is very powerful and I would like to read you all:

"Aye Allah Walo, Aye Ram Walo,
Apne Mazhab Ko Siyasat SE Bacha Lo
Mandir, Masjid Kabhi Fursat Me Bana Lenge,
Nafrat SE Jo Toote Ghr Hai, Pehle Wo Ghar to Bana Lo"

5. What is your comment on the current political situation of the country amidst the Covid pandemic?

I don't want to talk much about this, but yeah, I just want to tell you all that right now our country is fighting with man-made disaster, and in this critical situation, we should help each other irrespective of any discrimination. 

Instead of finding political benefits or fighting elections we have to be together to help our nation's citizens, they are not just in need of medical support, but also they need emotional support, so by forgetting all the grudges against each other, we should land our hands for love and for help and along with this we should raise our voice and ask the government about our health system. We should demand to increase the budget and to improve the health system of our country because what we are facing today, should not have face our next generation. 

7. Lastly, what are your favorite books and why?

I loved reading novels. My favorite one was "Dastaan Imaan Farosho ki" but after facing all these issues now I'm more focusing on reading about our country's situation, so I read "Annihilation of Caste system" by Dr. Baba Saheb Ambedkar "Youth in a Democratic country" and about our freedom fighters. etc.  

Sadiya shaikh
Pic Credits: @AnuragBanerjee

Sadiya Shaikh - Student Leader

I am 19/yo, my hometown is Bihar and I live in Mumbai. I'm pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and English literature. I known as a young Student Activist and a public speaker, I'm also a poet and painter sometimes. I have currently led the huge movement of the Anti-CAA NRC bill all over the country and spread awareness about the democratic rights of citizens, and worked with NRI (No Rape India) to stop the rate of increasing rape crime rate in India. 

I'm also a member of (MEEM) non-profit organization to feed needy people and educate poor children. As of today, we have fed thousands of people every day in Bihar, who were affected by floods, lockdown and also helped them start a small business, and now I'm running a movement of community library project in rural villages of India, till now I've been able to run 2 community libraries with additional coaching classes in 2 districts of Bihar where more than 250 children are getting benefits every day and now working for the same in another district. My project is also approved and supported by the International KidsRights organization, and also published in a U.S.A digital magazine. 

Achievements

I'm the awardee of the Global Women Inspiration award and conclave 2021 which was organized by the I can Foundation in Jaipur on international women's day. 

Now I have also selected for the All India Women's Achiever Award 2021. 
Selected for global youth fellowship of e-Rex Karamveer chakra award icongo with UN.

Interviewed By: Nishad kinhikar

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