Rajmohan Gandhi, Simran Jeet Singh & Richa Chadda reflect on youth power


Three trailblazing and inspirational individuals:  Historian and grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, Rajmohan Gandhi, the Sikh American community activist, scholar, and author Simran Jeet Singh and Indian Bollywood actress Richa Chadda, reflected how a few incidents during their youth has helped them grow to be a wiser, stronger and what is more important in life.

The virtual event ‘Youth Power for Social Justice’ held July 10, was hosted by Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR), a US-based advocacy organization that is committed to the ideals of multi-religious pluralism in the United States, India and beyond.

Hindus for Human Rights had partnered earlier this year with Indian American Muslim Council in a civil rights themed art and essay contest for youth. And two of the winners were high schoolers, Aminah Ahmed and middle schooler Samara Desai who introduced the speakers and participated in the Q&A as well during the hour-long event.

Gandhi the only senior speaker said he is thrilled to be admitted to the group, sharing an insightful incident when he was 16 said, that incident that occurred in 195I when he was staying with his parents and siblings in New Delhi. His father was editor of Delhi’s leading newspaper, The Hindustan Times, and the apartment they lived was right above the offices and the printing press of the newspaper. There was a knock on the door, which opened. A journalist needed to see his father, who was at home. In the journalist’s hand was a sheet of the teleprinter that he wished to show his father.

“I read the sheet as he came in. It said, ‘Liaqat Ali Khan, Prime Minister of Pakistan, has been shot at. MTF.’  I knew that MTF meant More To Follow. I said to this journalist, ‘I hope that what follows is a line that reads, Liaqat Ali Khan is dead,” Gandhi said and added, he thought he had made a clever remark, but the journalist did not smile. He frowned. he realized he had said something stupid.

“Why did I say it? Because enjoying Pakistan’s misfortune was a popular sport in India. Liaqat Ali Khan was the Prime Minister of Pakistan. That seemed sufficient reason for me to take pleasure in his likely death. I realized there was a second reason for my terrible remark. I was a boy turning into a man, and I wanted to sound macho.  Realizing the shallowness of my thinking, I told myself I must find a better way,” Gandhi said.

Actor Richa Chadha believes the world needs to steer the youth in the right direction to re-establish, refresh and reset the present status of society.

“Empowerment of the youth is our responsibility, and for them to learn from our good experiences as well as mistakes, we must share them openly with them. Establishing trust with the youth is extremely important, and guiding them towards the path of social justice is a must,” asserts the 34-year-old Chadda.

As someone who has always been vocal about the good and bad parts of society, Chadha is “thrilled” to get an opportunity to openly address the youth.

She said, “When people are attacked, they have the option to either choose love or become one of the hateful mobs, and I am proud to say that my family is liberal, fiercely secular, gave me all the freedom I needed to blossom into the woman I am today.”

“The difference between a truly democratic country and one that isn’t truly democratic, whether it is an autocracy, a communist dictatorship, or a religious autocracy, is freedom of expression,” she added.

Simran Jeet Singh, who was born and raised in San Antonio Texas talked his personal experiences and how she rose above the.

“I was eleven the first time someone called me a terrorist. A referee from my soccer team, said, ‘hey little terrorist, you’re not hiding bombs or knives in there are you? I know how you people like to blow stuff up’.”

She added, “I was so furious that I wanted to punch him. I had my fists clenched tightly and my body tensed up too. But in that moment, I decided to lean my head forward instead. I had never before let anyone touch my turban, but I wanted to play, and I was a kid. And I didn’t really feel like I had a choice.”