(New Delhi) “I was born in Meerut and grew up in Dehradoon. My father and mother used to be away. I was primarily raised by my Bua (aunt) and my grandmother. They are my two strong pillars. They instilled in me strength and values. They taught me to learn from everything happening around us.

Even as a kid, I used to see a lot of stuff happening around me. My father was violent with my mother, and sometimes with my grandmother, my aunt and me. My coping mechanism was to focus on studies. I really wanted to distract myself and wanted to become someone and get away from the violence. I wanted to stand up for my mother and my family. But as a kid you are not allowed to express your feelings the way you want to. My grandmother and my Bua regularly counseled my father to change his behaviour and not be violent with my mother. My father has changed a lot since the time I started confronting him and stopping him from being aggressive with my mother. I feel my empowered voice has helped my mother become empowered. 

I did my graduation in Computer Science. I gave up my information technology job in IBM to work in the non-profit sector. I was very driven towards work related to human rights and activism. There was a lot of pressure from my family not to quit my job as a software engineer. Till date, they tell me that I would have earned well if I were working as a software engineer because the non-profit sector doesn’t pay so well. But I always argue that it is for my personal satisfaction and that I am developing my skills and an understanding about where I want to be in the next few years. For me, money isn’t the most important thing. I want to work for the community.       

I have worked on human trafficking and women’s and children’s rights at the grassroots as well as at the policy level. It has been 10 years now I have been looking into a lot of issues intermingling with development. I train people in the communities ask them about their problems, and try to find the best ways for them to exercise their rights.”