MU students go GLOBAL

Poorvaprabha Patil, a student of first-year medicine, Kasturba Medical College, Manipal University, received an invite to participate in the 2nd Multi-stake holder Forum on Science, Technology, and Innovation held at New York, the headquarters of United Nations recently. Poorvaprabha, apart from being a student of Medicine, is also a part of many voluntary organizations like Volunteer Service Organization, RedX, Scientia Medicina and others. Her brilliance of work in graphic designing and Manipal the Talk Net brings her closer to many students in the campus population. Here Poorvaprabha talks to Ms.Pooja Deshpande and Ms.Vibha Kumari, largely about her experiences with United Nations and her work towards Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in India.

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Can you share your experience at United Nations as a youth participant?

Poorva: The experience was enriching. I learned a lot, met a lot of great people and was motivated to work more after coming back. I found the direction I was looking for. It was a fantabulous feeling to meet amazing people. A Canadian activist on climate change, for example, had mobilized 10 lac youth with his project. Meeting such people made me think strongly about the need for projects and band of youth who can contribute to bringing a change.  It is indeed sad that though we are such a populous country, participation is still not the best.  There’s a large scope.  On one side there are people working day and night for strengthening youth mechanisms at UN but here we largely remain unaware about the objectives of Sustainable Goals.  Being a participant at UN after my return I am motivated to work on SDGs and encourage more youth participation. I would like to see more youth participating in youth mechanisms, to make our voices heard and to contribute to change.

How do youth mechanisms support SDP?

Poorva: UN MGCY is the General Assembly mandated space for the meaningful engagement of children and youth in intergovernmental and allied processes within the UN related to sustainable development.  Through its four main areas of work which include advocacy and policy, capacity building, knowledge generation, and youth action youth mechanisms can support SDP. At the Science, Technology, and Innovation (STI) Forum, they have launched “Vision for Youth in STI at the UN and Beyond”, to enhance spaces for youth in the science-policy architecture of the UN. STI provides a platform for youth organizations and young people to participate towards strengthening youth policy and to practice in sustainable development.   This will happen by equipping our generation with the tools to drive evidence-informed, context-specific, and fit-for-purpose change through science, technology, engineering, innovation, and data.

At the STI Forum, there was also a one-day preparatory workshop to share knowledge. In the workshop, we drafted formal interventions in the program, including on SDG 3 (Ensure healthy lives and promote well being for all at all ages), STI capacity building, and national Science & Technology roadmaps.

We also held side events on a wide range of topics – from access to medicines to artificial intelligence and mental health in humanitarian response, and oceans resilience. In all, through collaborations with other stakeholders, the UN MGCY hosted 7 side event over 2 days and it was extremely interesting.

What exactly you mean by Science Technology and Innovation for SDGs and how are countries with different positions in STI are handled by UN?

Poorva:  A similar question was raised by one member state because when it comes to Science, Technology, and Innovation every country is at the different level and there is a need to bridge the gaps. There were talks on STI capacity building.  UN MGCY made interventions in almost all sessions and provided input.  Talking specifically about the intervention on SDG 3, we spoke about what problems exist especially on Science, technology and innovation front in medicine and need to break silos.

How many of these SDG’s are incorporated by the people of India?

Poorva: Directly or indirectly there are organizations working on all SDG’s.  Among the listed 17 hunger, poverty, climate, gender, and equality are important from an Indian perspective.  The other issues included in the SDG list varies from country to country based on their priorities.

Tell us about your future project.

Poorva: I intend to establish my own NGO soon and I have already started documentation work.   After working with other NGOs, I have realized that hands get tied because each one has their own agenda and motto. When you want to join hands with others you need to see if your idea matches with them – which at times can be difficult.  I want to focus mainly on blindness, youth empowerment, and education. When I was six years old, my mother started working for many organizations and realized it was more about pictures and publicity than output. People came to her with the black cataract which takes years to develop. When asked why they did not show up before, the answer would be money, family issues. This has made me choose to work for blindness. I want to start off with camps in the rural areas with inadequate resources. I also have plans to involve more youth in my project whenever and wherever possible.  If youth actively participate in the developmental projects, it is not a big distance for India to become developed country.

What propels you to SDG’s? Where did it start from?

Poorva: At one stage of my life I was totally shattered. The hovering family and personal problems had a great impact on both my mental and physical health.  I had to consult doctors for counseling and finally overcame the depression I was passing through.  It is when I started learning about various issues related to society and my association with Wildlife Survivors taught me about our attitude towards animals. I fought against depression and as I regained my confidence in talking to people, I understood what I am good at and what I need to work on.

What kind of support are you getting from Manipal University?

Poorva: One reason I wanted to join KMC is that of the student clubs and committees it has apart from its education quality. Manipal University is very encouraging. Everybody, including faculty and the higher authorities, is extremely welcoming and supportive. Authorities here are also approachable. According to me, this is the best place where a student can build his/her strength to pursue what they aspire for.

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