From left to right: Adithiyan Rajan, Nityashri Sankaran and Kehkashan Basu. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: We published a story recently about the 600 million youth of India poised to make a global impact, although some of the means a few of them are employing would be best termed as unsavoury. However, one cannot deny the power a young population has and will have on the world.

This makes it all the more imperative that the paths they choose are well guided and focussed on a better future. We might say Mars will be colonised, with people like Elon Musk and Richard Branson making every effort to realise that but what is the point if we manage to trash that planet, too. Are we going to be a nomadic people hunting down planet after planet? It might sound cool within the confines of Marvel Studios but in reality, it would most probably mean extinction at some point.

So, the best thing to do now - encourage and affirm positive action, which is exactly what we are doing with the winners of our Community Report competition for January.

First place goes to Nityashri Sankaran from Sharjah. What a remarkable young woman. She has managed to recycle at an incredible scale. Do read her report on gulfnews.com. We published it in print on January 29 with the heading, “Sharjah pupil recycles 8,500kg of waste paper”.

Second place goes to Kehkashan Basu for her effort to help Syrian refugee children get access to books. The article was published on January 18. She is a very active young community reporter, who has set up her own environmental body, along with being a youth ambassador of the World Future Council. We have seen her grow and evolve in her social and civic consciousness. Young people like her offer great hope for the world.

Third place goes to yet another student community reporter, Adithiyan Rajan, for his documentation of a collective effort by youngsters from different schools to donate blankets for the needy. The report was published on January 17.

We also have special mentions for articles by Aaditya Gandhi and Laxman K., both of who looked at raising social consciousness through mindful decisions.


Nitya Sankaran

Published on: January 29, 2018

Nitya Sankaran, a Sharjah-based pupil, highlighted her efforts of recycling 8,500kg of waste paper. She started the initiative in cooperation with a Dubai-based company, wherein she would receive a minimal amount for the paper, which she donated to Dubai Cares towards children’s education.

She said: “I love creative writing and reading. And I am happy to be able to share my experiences with others through writing community reports for Gulf News and spreading awareness on a variety of community issues.”

A pupil at the Delhi Private School in Sharjah, she has been interested in eco-friendly activities for a few years now. Her school hosts several environmental events and awareness activities, which she always participates in.

She said: “This gave me a good head start to my passion towards Nature. I am actively involved in recycling through my school and agencies like Bee’ah and Emirates Environmental Group and it has become a habit over the years. I am happy that I am able to spread awareness in addition to doing charity through this initiative.”

When she started recycling, she did not expect to achieve such a high target, but with the “support of several corporate and friends”, she managed to reach the mark in nine months.

In her free time, Sankaran loves playing chess and reading books. She also plays table tennis at a national level along with her school.

She said: “My favourite subjects are English, as I love reading and writing, and Mathematics, because of my passion for numbers and mental arithmetic since childhood and the various mental mathematics competitions I have participated and won over the years.”

She has been writing community reports for a few years now and after this recognition, she plans to continue writing and raising awareness about relevant issues. She is convinced that print media allows her message to reach a wider audience.

She said: “There is exponential spread of awareness through print and media and the message spread through community reports helps to inspire and motivate other students to follow recycling. The reports give an excellent platform to share our experiences. My classmates and teachers appreciated my efforts, and many of them have already started to recycle and contribute papers for my project.”

The best surprise, however, was a Gulf News reader calling her mother at work to congratulate their efforts and wanted to collect papers from her contacts for them. She managed to find her through Facebook.

“It is a pleasure to connect with like-minded people,” Sankaran added.


Kehkashan Basu

Published on: January 18, 2018

Kehkashan Basu, a Dubai-based student, has been writing community reports for Gulf News for many years now. She has always tried to raise awareness about environmental issues from a very young age and her passion for the cause has lead her to international platforms.

Today, she is not just the founder and president of Green Hope Foundation, a UAE-based social organisation, but also the Youth Ambassador for the World Future Council and Honorary Advisor for the NGO Committee on Sustainable Development.

She said: “I intend to pursue a major in Environmental Studies at university later this year. I enjoy writing a lot, as it is a great way to express one’s views and feelings. My school has always been very supportive of my advocacy. Mathematics, French, Environmental Science and music are my favourite subjects.”

Recycling and sustainable consumption have been the areas of concern and focus for her throughout. With the help of the youth members of her social group, she hopes to continue working to engage the community to “consume with care”.

She said: “Community reports are a great engagement platform and a forum through which the community can express its views and share events of importance , thus creating greater awareness for good causes.”

After her report about visit Syrian refugees was published in Gulf News, the response that she received was “phenomenal”. She received several messages of encouragement, with many people wanting to join the cause.

“I would like to thank Gulf News for assisting young people like me in spreading our message,” she added.


Adithiyan Rajan

Published on: January 17, 2018

Adithiyan Rajan, a student based in Dubai, wrote about his initiative to donate blankets to the poor during the holiday season. His team worked in coordination with the Al Ihsan Charity Association in Ajman and wanted to help those who are unable to afford warm blankets during the winter months.

He said: “I believe writing is one of the most important skills that we need to express ourselves and to get our message across. Writing improves our ability to think clearly and chronologically, while at the same time reaching out to several readers. Ultimately, I enjoy writing because it helps me explore and learn more about myself.”

A student at the JSS International School in Dubai, he says his school has played a major role in shaping his passions, character and personality type, apart from the academics.

He said: “Physics is my favourite subject, because it dives into the fundamentals of Nature, deals with intriguing concepts and problems and has many wonderful and elegant theories that challenge our minds to surpass the limit.”

Apart from writing, he dedicates his free time towards the welfare of the society by organising campaigns such as plantation programmes and medicine donation drives. His aim is to create a positive impact through his actions.

After his report was published, he received a lot of feedback from the people around him, which has encouraged him to do more.

He said: “It has widened my goal of serving society. I hope that my humble initiatives and campaigns have inspired many to think and act for humanity. Community reports are an excellent way for readers to highlight various issues of concern and also put forward innovative ways to solve these problems.”


Aaditya Gandhi

Published on: January 8, 2018

Aaditya Gandhi, a pupil based in Dubai, organised a Christmas Campaign along with his sister, called ‘Gift a Smile’. They went door-to-door to collect donations, including books, toys, clothes and blankets, which were later given to the Emirates Red Crescent.

Gandhi has been passionate about writing from a young age and has been writing community reports for Gulf News for over a year.

He said: “I am passionate about writing and truly enjoy it, as it not only allows me to express my thoughts and feelings, but can also be used as a tool, instrumental in bringing about change in the world we live in. Writing is an art that should be practiced and admired. The satisfaction to see your thoughts slowly but surely transform into meticulous words on paper is indeed priceless.”

In school, English happens to be his favourite subject, along with Science, as both of those help him bring together his love for creativity and rational thinking.

He said: “I strive to be an all-rounder by pursuing a wide array of interests including creative writing, reading, dramatics, debating, singing, art and public speaking. I am an ardent reader and love to read books from different genres.”

In fact, to share his love for reading with the children of the neighbourhood, he initiated the ‘Go Getters Library and Book Club’ along with his sister. He wrote a report about it, which was published in Gulf News in September 2017.

He said: “Community reports are a great platform to express one’s views and highlight different issues. They help to effectively raise awareness about what is happening in the neighbourhood, thereby urging people to become responsible towards the community and environment. The relevant authorities are also alerted towards finding solutions for the different issues.”

Every time, one of his reports are published in Gulf News, his school uploads it on their website and Facebook page so that others can read them and feel encouraged.

“I shall continue to write community reports as I feel hopeful to make a difference by raising awareness,” he added.

Laxman K.

Published on: January 25, 2018

Laxman K., an Indian national based in Sharjah, highlighted the issue of electrical distribution cabinets being left open for a long time in Sharjah’s Industrial Area 15. As a resident of the area for more than a decade, he thought it to be his responsibility to raise awareness on this issue. Additionally, it would help him improve his writing.

He said: “I enjoy writing because it gives my mind some relief and satisfaction, especially because I know that my thoughts are reaching the public and increasing awareness.”

He studied in a government school in a remote village in Kerala, India. At the time, his favourite subject was Mathematics, but he loved to draw. He took this passion further by studying engineering and is now learning to draw with water colour paints.

He said: “Since childhood, I have a taste for observing Nature and drawing and painting. Then I learned the art of cartoons, which requires one to read. I was selected as the second best cartoonist in the general category conducted in Kerala, which gave me the confidence and some of my cartoons were even published in magazines in India.”

After his report was published in Gulf News, he received positive feedback from his friends, relatives and colleagues.

“They appreciated and circulated my report through social media,” he added.


— Profiles compiled by Rabab Khan/Community Interactivity Editor