Shaping Kolkata: Gateway for today’s change-makers

“Social Change is not going to come from just knowing more information, but from doing something with it”.

On 25th September 2015, members of United Nation General Assembly took an oath, an oath in the form of Sustainable Development Goals, which would solve the problems that nations’ face collectively, that billions of citizens go through each day and that humanity as a whole suffers. These weren’t just another list of goals, but a revolution: a revolution not only to be put in words, but which would bring change in thoughts and actions. Someone has rightly put it “No real social change has been brought about without a revolution. A revolution is but thought carried into action”.

But there is a bigger picture to it. A change is never brought. It is made. Made by people who actually care, care for others, care to solve a problem, fulfil a need and moreover, care to serve society. The history of humankind is filled with examples of individuals and organisations that actually made a difference while serving society. Right from the nodal agencies at the top to individuals and organisations at the grass root level, who have been and are working to create, sustain and amplify this change. And we at Global Shapers Kolkata are aiding in doing this.

The last and 17th SDG talks about ‘Global Partnership for Sustainable Development’. We at Global Shapers Kolkata thought how about connecting the right ideas with the right resources to facilitate and act as a catalyst in this change- making process to ‘shape’ the society in right direction. And that is when we started with our pursuit of ‘Shaping Kolkata’, an event of its kind aimed to make young individuals think and create models of social change and problem solving solutions to make our city a better place. Indeed, alone we can do little, together, so much.

In an era where profit-oriented entrepreneurships are ruling the scenario, Shaping Kolkata dared to do things differently by providing the youth to think out of the ordinary and innovative ideas of change that lead to sustainable societies instead. This platform worked cohesively and not only provided the right mentorship from the who’s who of the trade, but also offered the best social enterprise ideas a chance to be incubated and work closely with the Hub in Kolkata and turn their ideas of change into a reality.

Giving the entire project a shape of competition, infused the sense of feasibility and being the best among the lot. And that actually proved beneficial. We had entries from some of the best institutions in and around the city and also from distant cities like Kharagpur, Mesra etc. Some of the ideas were so good that they would give a run for money to many worthy start-ups. From working on menstruation and blindness to reducing CO2 emission and from using IOT (Internet of things) and data analytics to maximize crop yield to using mobile food banks to reduce hunger, ideas focused on major gripping issues that are impeding the wheels of development. And some of these ideas were already in existence, at a micro level, looking for scaling up.

Day One of the event was all about mentorship of the selected ideas by the rightful mentors and gurus of the industry, while Day Two saw these young ideators pitching these ideas in front of a panel capable of bringing about this change. The two-day event wasn’t just a competition, but a kick-start to many of the ideas that brim in the head of those young change-makers. Irrespective of the outcome of the event, there was something bigger that these future social entrepreneurs had taken back in their kitty: Huge networking and a consolidated path for future. In words of Gaurav Kapoor, of IIM Calcutta-Innovation Park, one of the mentors & judges for the event “Indeed an event which was not only interesting but also invigorating; seeing the amazing energy with which the youth engaged. I only hope that these ideas move to the next level and see the light of the day.”

Development doesn’t happen when society adopts new technology, it happens when society adopts new behaviour”. If not anything, this two days extravaganza has initiated a change, a change in the behaviour and action of these determined and dedicated individuals destined to make a difference. Shaping Kolkata got an encouraging support and has successfully created an ecosystem, an ecosystem ready to solve the collective issues and achieve the sustainable goals, together.

Shreyas Bajoria, Global Shaper, Kolkata Hub