Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Meet Our GEMS: Rinku Mecheri

The Blurred Lines Between Physical & Cyber Safety
by Meera Srikant

Rinku Mecheri is the founder of Chennai Volunteers, a social initiative that works towards enhancing awareness on the role of individuals in society.  It drives civic engagement by facilitating volunteers to make meaningful skill and time contribution to beneficiaries and NGOs in a sustainable and meaningful way. The organization facilitates the process of building a more supportive infrastructure for nonprofit organisations, and simultaneously enhance the experience of volunteers and create awareness on social issues. CV leverages the online medium with a dynamic web portal, where: volunteers can find various opportunities to share and care, members can find local/international partners and NGOs can share resources and exchange best practices, 24x7. Mecheri shares her reasons for being a part of the Prajnya campaign.
Why is this issue important to you?
In all the roles that I have adopted in my life till now – a young girl, a teenager, a professional, a spiritual seeker, a mother and, of course, an active volunteer for various causes, “safety” has always been an important part of my well-being quotient. It did not matter which part of the country I lived in or which corner of the world I travelled to, it has always been reiterated.

I see that the same holds good for the youth of today as well. Personal safety is an issue we all mentally tick off before we look at other aspects pertaining to them. In fact, it is more of a concern now, with the cyber world being such a big part of their lives. Cyber-bullying takes old-fashioned threats, harassment, and humiliation into the virtual world and allows people to attack each other quickly, persistently, somewhat anonymously from any part of the world. We keep reading of Internet predators, identity theft, phishing but they are words we have limited knowledge. In such a scenario, how do I protect my young teenager from a click-happy habit that is the norm today?

We need to be safe in our belief of being equal as a woman. And we need to be safe by having enough knowledge about the negatives of the cyber world. 

What is it you feel most strongly about?

Personal safety no longer pertains to physical safety alone. There is an added component of cyber safety that I feel has many grey spots that I may not even be aware of. When I venture out to work or volunteer into any corner of both worlds – real and virtual, I want to be safe. I also want the children and women I work with to be aware and, hence, safe.

Tell us about your activity and what you hope to do with it?

Chennai Volunteers is hosting a conversation on the topic "Safety in Equality" with emphasis on Cyber Safety for youngsters.

Planned as a dialogue with parents of teenagers (boys and girls), this promises to be an interactive session that will be led by the Prajnya team. We also have a special resource, Ms. Ruchi Mohunta, who will actively moderate this session for us. She brings with her, years of experience in teaching, counselling and enhancing leadership skills of young teenagers.

Three things you would suggest to keep these individual actions going.

While this is the first step, I feel we need to expand the reach of such discussions and keep them going. We would then be able to enhance awareness and maybe even help some youngsters who have been victimized. My immediate focus area would be the volunteers we work with.

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