Partners for Urban Knowledge Action and Research (PUKAR), has been at the forefront in engaging Mumbai’s inhabitants through research and advocacy of their neighbourhood and appurtenant built spaces. The Youth Fellowship, PUKAR’s flagship project, is a knowledge initiative which provides a platform for meaningful dialogue for critical engagement of the youth of Mumbai from any class to come together and study and share their findings in an equitable manner.
The programme uses research as a pedagogical, interventional, and advocacy tool to empower the youth to negotiate the city and focus on transforming the quality of life in Mumbai. Hinged on the interpretation of the essay ‘Right to Research’ by Professor Appadurai, these projects are aimed at democratizing the research process and making it accessible to everyone regardless of their social belonging. It aims to challenge the prevalent paradigm of knowledge production as well as the very definitions of the knowledge producers and that of research itself. This project encourages the youth in Mumbai Metropolitan Region to explore social, cultural, economic and political aspects of their neighbourhood in their very own or chosen locality.
The essential conceptualization of the research design suggests that one group of ten or twelve youths, led by a mentor or a senior fellow would, with help of simultaneous, rigorous training, conduct research over a period of one year in their own locality or in their own community on a subject of their choice which is anchored in their living space.
This platform is a unique one. It breaks the shackles of social hierarchy from the onset, brings youth of the city together through research and helps them negotiate and understand their spaces and their rights in their own way rather than a prescribed one. By actively engaging them and giving a platform to present their voices to their observations and understanding, they are better equipped as community members.
Over the last five years, more than eighteen hundred Mumbai youths have graduated through the Youth Fellowship Programme. With expanded support, the programme would grow to reach a far greater number of Mumbai’s youths. With the tools to understand how to shape a research idea, these young Mumbai citizens will go out into the world with the capacity for gathering evidence and use that evidence to make arguments about their future and their spaces through their firsthand knowledge and not through top-down information.
Programme is run for one year, from June and is now accepting applications. Deadline for application is 15 May 2012 for this year’s programme. Contact Details: PUKAR, 272, Municipal Tenament, BMC colony, Kherwadi, Bandra (E), Mumbai ’51; Tel. 022 6505 3599; Email: email@example.com Visit www.pukar.org.in for more information