The pandemic has exposed the true colours of development– the playing field is far from level! However, the crevices in the ecosystem are perceived by the optimistic lot as opportunities; to fill the gaps and curate an equal society. Youth are the embodiment of such optimism. Bubbling with positive force, they can yield unmatched development, and today, Team Sheatwork, has the pleasure of engaging in conversation with one such young mind – Tarini
Malhotra, who aims to bring about the needed change through noble social initiatives.
“There are no boundaries beyond those we create in our minds! I believe that I can change lives and am working towards that.”
Q1. How did you think of starting off on your own at such a young age? What was your inspiration?
From a very early age, I’ve been encouraged to think about how we can improve the lives of the marginalized, and contribute to creating a sustainable change in society. When COVID-19 disrupted our world, people from all over the globe came together to support each other during turbulent times, and we witnessed soaring levels of compassion. This proved that we humans are sensitive and capable of more than we believe and together, we can create a just, diverse, inclusive, and conscious society. This inspired me to try and work towards addressing the challenges our society is facing, and I started Project Nishant to provide employment opportunities to neurodiverse people. Over the past year, Project Nishant has taken wings and proved that there are no boundaries beyond those we create in our minds. The success of this project further inspired me to take the next step and expand the scope and impact of our work. Hence, this year, I established Nai Subah Foundation, an organization that aims to create opportunities for the marginalized and help them unlock their potential.
Q2. What enabled you to look beyond the overt layers of society and delve deeper to discover a mine of talent pool waiting to be availed?
In October 2021, I was approached by I was approached by Parivartan Special School, which is a school for special needs students under PORDAC NGO (Protection of the Rights of Differently Abled Children) to keep it viable during COVID-19 by fundraising. It is only when I worked with those students, did I realize that the world of neurodiversity is so rich, creative and profound; and that, neurodiverse people actually have many untapped skills that can be harnessed and put to good use. This inspired me to delve deeper towards the goal of empowering the neurodiverse. Thus, Project Nishant came into being, with the aim of creating mainstream employment opportunities for the differently -abled, and equipping them with the tools to increase their income generation capability, self-esteem and independence.
Q3. Your initiatives are a true example of supporting diversity and inclusion. Personally, what qualities did you develop that helped you to stride ahead in this direction and manage your NGO?
My school has built an inclusive ecosystem where sensitivity is one of the core values. Also, my family has always inspired me to work towards solving different challenges the society is facing. So, over the years, I have become increasingly self-aware, empathetic and conscious. Today, I feel I’m driven by my ambition to contribute towards the creation of a society that recognizes and embraces diversity. My compassion, strong desire to make a difference, and time management ability have therefore helped me stride ahead in this direction. I think, growing up in an ecosystem that is focused on values, has curated my thought processes and actions so far.
Q4. Time management is crucial. How do you manage your work-life balance, since you have to take care of your studies too?
I have always focused on academics, without compromising on my creative pursuits, or service initiatives. In the process, I have constantly challenged myself on various fronts. Indeed, time management is a skill that I have been constantly working on all these years and I do my best to manage both, studies and the initiatives that I take up, with equal sincerity.
Q5. Mainstreaming employment opportunities for neurodiverse people is not a very task. Could you tell us about the challenges faced by you?
Project Nishant, is a real-world project, hence it is very challenging. From identifying and building partnerships with NGOs to booking appointments, and meeting corporates, nothing is easy! Developing the talent pool of new diverse young adults who are both employable and determined to make the best out of the situation, then matching them up with the skills required by industry partners, figuring out the logistics, and finally, finding companies willing to onboard these candidates, while making the workplace more inclusive and sensitive – the list of challenges is never-ending. Apart from that, I also have, school exams! Yet my passion to do good helps me to work relentlessly toward my goals and juggle work seamlessly. The bright side is that I am happy to realize that most companies nowadays are open to employing neurodiverse people and integrating them into their workplace.
Q6. How has your business/NGO benefitted your life and the lives of the people it has touched? What is your long-term vision?
On a personal level, Project Nishant, has taught me that there are no boundaries beyond the ones we create in our minds. In terms of its impact on people, I feel that we have truly brought the issue of employment of neurodiversity to the forefront, and addressed it appropriately. The results have been positive, and we found companies with a social conscience and sustainability agenda who are very receptive to our idea. So far, we have reached out to 30 plus companies, and many more are connecting with us to become a part of this project. We have also tasted success with several candidates hired and many more recruitments in progress. Our Virtual Art Exhibition helped showcase the incredible talent of neurodiverse young artists from ages six to twenty-one and was attended by people from across the globe. As our ecosystem grows, more contracts are being on-boarded and we hope that many more will join our platform and be a part of the transformation we seek to create. In the coming years, we aim to usher in a world of opportunities for marginalized people by fostering diversity and inclusion, creating sustainable income generation opportunities through assisted and open employment, by showcasing their talent and creativity. We hope that our efforts will have a cascading effect creating a lasting impact and hopefully a more inclusive society.
Q7. Any tips/advice for someone of your age, who is aspiring to start off a business?
My advice to other youth my age would be that they should follow their passion, and simultaneously try to work towards creating a sustainable and inclusive world for themselves as well as the future generations, through their endeavors.