(Update on Nov 5, 2015: A few of our readers have brought to our attention a recent Facebook post by Kundan Srivastava. We at SocialStory do not endorse his comments. We stand for gender equality and believe everyone has a right to choose what they want to wear.)
This young man’s passion for social causes led to him being kidnapped in 2004. But he managed to escape from the clutches of his kidnappers only to dedicate himself to women empowerment and development. Meet 25-year old Kundan Srivastava, an engineer, born in Raxaul, a village in Champaran, and one of youngest social activists in the country.
Kundan has received several humanitarian awards such as the Universal Humanity Award and the Pithadhhish Award.
He recounts his exciting life story: “Since I was protesting against the bureaucracy and mafia that was taking over the education system, I was kidnapped. I was away hidden and scared with those thugs for seven days. I didn’t think I would survive the ordeal, but I managed to escape from their clutches after seven days, and even endured a gunshot on my leg while escaping.”
This incident proved to be the turning point in his life. Only after getting home did Kundan realise how important it was to continue fighting for a cause. “I could have easily given up, but then the incident just made my resolve stronger,” he adds.
He then went on to complete his education and finished his engineering, “It was all the more important that I finish my education, as a year after my kidnapping, my younger brother died of cancer. And the only thing that kept me going was my increased work in the social sector and education,” says Kundan.
Kundan continued his efforts towards creating better education systems for the underprivileged children in his village. He then moved to Delhi, where he began working as a software engineer for 91mobiles. “Work was important as it helped me sustain my family. But after I shifted to Delhi I would frequently hear and read about women being harassed. It was then that I decided to start the Be In Humanity Foundation. It’s a youth-run voluntary organisation that works towards empowering women across different sections of the society,” says Kundan.
Being run by young adults, the Be In Humanity Foundation is a self-sustaining organisation. “We take no donations and put in a portion of our personal earnings into the running and functioning of this organisation,” he says.
Through this foundation, Kundan has not only helped fight several crimes against women but has also helped rehabilitating many women “After being victims of heinous crimes like rape, acid attacks, molestations and dowry harassment, little is done to help these women. They need to be welcomed back into society and given strength, courage and power to lead normal lives,” says Kundan.
Apart from this, the foundation also works on a project called as the Screams of the Soul, which brings to light the societal change that is needed to stop these crimes. “We bring in speakers from different parts of the country to educate the audiences on topics of psychological trauma, mindset change and other such subjects,” says Kundan.
Believing that if such crimes have to stop in our country, we need to solve the problem at a grassroots level, he says: “We need to focus on changing mindsets and that works with the younger generation. So we go to schools and focus on educating children on issues like gender equality, sensitisation to health and sanitisation and other such topics.”
Kundan has also recently authored a book called “Title is Untitled”, which talks about the apathy we have created in our society. “Whether it is education or women’s empowerment, we need to make these real words in our society and not just a topic of discussion. The change needs to begin with every single individual,” says Kundan.