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Their Postcards For 2018: From 18 places, girls who turned 18 this year speak out

From 18 places touched by the headlines, girls who turned 18 this year speak on who they are, what they want, their life — and their love.

By: Express News Service | Updated: December 31, 2017 8:01 pm
Girls who turned 18 this year speak on who they are

200 million WhatsApp users; more than 240 million people on Facebook; 450 million-plus on Internet; and 121 million between the ages of 18 and 22 (HRD Ministry data, 2016). India has the world’s largest youth population, and the country with the largest numbers on social media. It should be the best of times to be 18 in India. It is perhaps the toughest — tougher still if you are a woman.

2017 began with a marriage between two consenting adults landing in court in Kerala. It ends with a hug between two children inviting them suspension from school. 2017 was the year India celebrated its ‘first woman defence minister’ and its new ‘Miss World’. It was also the year anti-Romeo squads roamed the streets to protect “honour”, while Senas scoured cinema halls to celebrate the claimed suicide of a 700-year-old queen.

2017 was the year of the GST, “India’s biggest tax reform”, and of elections with vikas as both a campaign plank and prank. But 2017 was also the year a doctor was swept away in a flooded drain, nearly 300 children died of lack of oxygen in a government hospital, and angry youths continued to hit the streets, desperate for jobs and demanding quotas. 2017 got us the promise of a bullet train, as well as the spectacle of a stampede at a railway station in India’s business capital.

2017 marked the fifth year of the Nirbhaya case and the changes it brought, but a #MeToo campaign got the world acknowledging sexual assault again. In 2017, privacy became a right, but Aadhaar kept extending its reach. Free speech became a little less free, love remained a battlefield, and people watched what you ate, what you wore, who you were seen with, and what you danced to. And yet the defining picture remained of a group of women in shorts and chappals stepping out at night to take on police at a university.

Wherever one turned in 2017, from Hadiya to the footballer pitching a stone in Kashmir, from the girls at BHU to those riding bikes at AMU, from the men in Padmavati row to the video in Rajsamand, from the Santoshi who died hungry to the Sindhu who showed hunger, it were the girls straining the boundaries between the old India and the new.

So what does it mean to be a woman, 18, in college in a small town, and experiencing the world as an adult? Is it love they seek or family acceptance? Are their choices defined by religion, or caste? What are they reading, what do they watch? Does marriage mean end of career, or can girls leave home? Can the barrier of English be broken, or governments ever listen? Is it jeans they want, or a sense of safety? Or does it all come down to gender? The Sunday Express brings you 18 stories.

Women empowerment, gender rights, indian girls, 2018 and gender issue, indian express Jyoti Singh from Meerut. (Express Photo/Gajendra Yadav)

‘Main bold banna chaahoongi’

Jyoti Singh
BCom, First Year, Meerut College

MEERUT, UP
After taking over in Uttar Pradesh, the Yogi Adityanath-led BJP government kept its election promise, and anti-Romeo squads were deployed in Meerut.

What do you want to do when you grow up?

My father works at a tile showroom and my mother is a housewife. But they have inspired all of us to study — my brother has done his B.Tech, my sister is in Class 11. I would like to be a bank manager. Bank jobs are secure and respectable. I think I’ll be good at it because I’m good with numbers and figures. But there’s something I want to change about myself. Main bold banna chaahoongi (I want to be bold). I feel conscious of myself. I wish that would go away.

Do you want to move to a big city?

I am not sure. Maybe, if an opportunity comes my way. Meerut is okay for now. I feel jobs are there everywhere, but one has to be hard-working to be successful.

Do you have friends of the opposite sex? Has social media made this easier? 

No, I hang out with the girls. It feels safer with girls. I knew some boys in school, but here (in college) I don’t know any of the boys. I don’t think social media helps in making friends. How can you be friends with someone without meeting them?

Are you in love? What does love mean to you? Is religion or caste a factor? Will you marry for love?

No, I am not in love. How do I tell you what it means if I haven’t been in love? No, religion and all don’t make a difference to me. And they shouldn’t to anyone. Pyaar toh ho jaata hai bus (Love just happens). But I will never disobey my parents when it comes to marriage. They are most important.

Should women work after marriage?

Yes, obviously. It’s been such a struggle to reach college. Now, if I don’t work, what is the point of coming to college?

How much time do you spend on your phone every day? 

My family recently bought me this smartphone Redmi 4 phone and I still haven’t figured out all it can do. I mostly use WhatsApp — it is so much fun to send pictures. I am also on Instagram, but I don’t know much about it. My brother says Instagram is okay, not Facebook. I use my phone every now and then.

What kind of books do you read?

Study books… dharmik kitabein (religious books). But I can’t remember the name of any book right now.

Which is your favourite film?

I don’t watch many films, but my favourite is Dangal. It showed how girls can bring glory to the family and country.

What kind of clothes do you like to wear?

I like jeans and tops… it is comfortable. I used to wear salwar-kameez in school, but I didn’t like it.

Do you face restrictions at home? Is there a curfew time?

I have to be home by 2 pm. And my parents don’t let me go out after dark. But I understand… it’s not safe for girls.

Are you required to do chores at home?

Yes, of course. I can do all work — cooking, cleaning, washing clothes.

What are your expectations from the government?

I voted in a college election (A group of boys passing by start hooting and Jyoti pauses)… Expectations from the government? You saw what just happened. The government should do more for women. Abhi bhi yahaan khauf mein khadi hun main (Right now too I am standing in fear). Also, while the government has given us Dalits reservation, people don’t respect us. That mindset needs to change.

Which news item this year impacted you the most?

I couldn’t watch much news this year because I was caught up with admissions. But I try to read Dainik Jagran.

Social media status:

Not on facebook

Last WhatsApp forward: A message on how the world would be a better place if people distributed sweets when a girl is born. “I sent it to everyone on my contact list”

— Interviewed by Asad Rehman.

Swati Saini from Gurgaon. (Express Photo/Praveen Khanna)

‘Housewife to nahin banna…bilkul. A working woman gets respect’

Swati Saini
BCom, second year, Dronacharya Government College

GURGAON, HARYANA

At 879 women for every 1,000 men, Haryana is the state with the most skewed sex ratio, according to Census 2011. Of the state’s districts, Gurgaon is the worst, with a ratio of 854, way below the national average of 940

What do you want to do when you grow up?

Housewife toh bilkul nahi banna (I don’t want to become a housewife). Eventually, I want to have my own business, but before that, I may work in an office. My village is near Pataudi Chowk and my older brother works in a call centre. He says there are a lot of jobs there. Also, it’s important to be ‘multi-talented’. A lot of girls are just interested in one thing, mostly dancing. But I like to do everything — table-tennis, volleyball and taekwondo.

Do you want to move to a big city?

I can’t stay away from my family. I will try and find a job in a nearby area. I am willing to work in Delhi though. I can travel from home for a job in Delhi.

Do you have friends of the opposite sex? Has social media made this easier?

Yes, par main sirf limited bando se baat karti hoon (but I only talk to a select few). It all depends on a person’s nature; if they have respect, it’s fine. On social media, there are all kinds of boys. There are many who misuse your pictures and make obscene videos. But I have spoken to some very good boys on Facebook. I have met two of them as well, we are very good friends now. Once, a boy from Faridabad also came to see me; he was very respectful. People at home and college urge girls not to talk to boys, but I see no harm in it.

Are you in love? What does love mean to you? Is religion or caste a factor? Will you marry for love?

(Blushes) No. Love for me is respect, care… it’s a special feeling. But these days it has also become ‘time-pass’. Religion or caste is not a problem for me. Bande mein koi gadbad nahin honi chahiye (The boy should be decent), that’s all. But I will not go against my family. Boys chod dete hain, family nahin (Boys leave you, the family doesn’t)…

I want to marry by 24-25. I would have sorted out my career by then. My parents will choose my partner.

Should women work after marriage?

Yes, it keeps you financially independent. It is also important in order to maintain a good image and to get respect.

How much time do you spend on your phone every day?

I log onto Facebook frequently, but mostly I talk to my friends on WhatsApp. We share lecture notes, our own photographs etc. I also love YouTube videos on recipes and home decoration. I spend about 5-6 hours on my phone.

What kind of books do you read?

I only read my course books or news stories on the Internet.

Which is your favourite film?

Heropanti (2014). I adore Tiger Shroff; he has personality, looks, he dances well… Aur woh ek shy banda hai (And he is a shy guy). I love action and comedy films. Fukrey Returns (2017) bahut mast thi (Fukrey Returns was great).

What kind of clothes do you like to wear?

I can wear whatever I want to. ‘Jeans-top’ is my favourite, it looks good and is comfortable too. People in my village say girls should only wear certain kind of clothes, but my parents are always on my side, and rebuff their arguments. I get Rs 1,000 per month. It’s for my auto fare and going out with friends. There are several malls in Gurgaon, I like going there.

Do you face restrictions at home? Is there a curfew time?

I have full freedom till 6 pm. After that, I start getting calls from home.

Are you required to do chores at home?

Jo mummy bole (I do, whatever my mother asks me to do) — cooking, cleaning, dusting, washing clothes. I recently saw a YouTube video of a macaroni recipe and made it at home. Everyone loved it.

What are your expectations from the government?

I haven’t got my voter ID card made yet. My brother says, ‘Ek vote kam hoga toh kya dikkat hogi (One less vote won’t make a difference)’. I want the government to make the atmosphere safer for women. Women should also enjoy the kind of freedom that men have in this country.

Which news item this year impacted you the most?

I don’t get time to watch much news. I saw some of the coverage of the Gujarat elections, Modiji jeet gaye (PM Modi won).

Social media status: About 100 Facebook friends

Last WhatsApp forward: “2017 ka aakhri sawaal, aapko mujhse kya shikayat hai woh likh kar send karein (The last question of 2017, send me a complaint you have against me). I am waiting”

— Interviewed by Ankita Dwivedi Johri.

Poonam Soni from Bastar. (Express Photo/Dipankar Ghose)

‘The biggest problem is the thought that no boy can be your friend’

Poonam Soni

BSc, Final Year, Danteshwari Government PG College

DANTEWADA, BASTAR

Remains hit by Maoist violence. It was in Dantewada that 76 CRPF men were killed in the country’s deadliest Maoist attack

What do you want to do when you grow up?

I hope to provide people here the services they need, through social service or civil services. I want to work the most for girls. Girls don’t get their rights and are married off early. Kam se kam ladkon ke barabar to haq do (At least give them the same rights as the boys). Even girls have a life, but nobody lets them enjoy theirs.

Do you want to move to a big city?

No, there are lots of problems here.

Do you have friends of the opposite sex? Has social media made this easier?

Yes, social media has made this much easier. If you use Facebook well, there are lots of things to gain. But there are some problems too, like putting a wrong MMS online… I have friends who are males, but families don’t understand. The biggest problem is the thinking that no boy can be your friend. You are afraid of interacting even with those you have grown up with, because what will the family say?

Are you in love? What does love mean to you? Is religion or caste a factor? Will you marry for love?

(Poonam is reluctant to talk about love.) We should have the right to at least speak our mind about these things. Because if the girl doesn’t tell her family and takes a wrong step, it will only lead to embarrassment for them. She should make everything clear, so that tomorrow she doesn’t have to leave the family… Families should be frank, but very few actually are.

Should women work after marriage?

Of course they should. But girls aren’t allowed to. It has changed a little, at least now women are teaching after marriage, but there are places where even this isn’t happening. Girls are married off before 17.

How much time do you spend on your phone?

I search for things on the Net — I find that very useful. If I want to know something from history, I just put in the link. I love reading general knowledge.

What kind of books do you read?

I don’t read books apart from my studies. But I read magazines and newspapers.

Which is your favourite film?

Bajrangi Bhaijaan. I like such films. There is a small girl in the film, and while Salman Khan is Hindu, she is Muslim. He doesn’t look at her religion, and does everything to help her reach her mother. He even goes to Pakistan, when today, to go to Pakistan must be so difficult.

What kind of clothes do you like to wear?

I decide what I wear and I like wearing Indian clothes. I get money from my parents based on what I need.

Do you have restrictions at home? Is there a curfew time?

College finishes at 4 pm or so. I can get late but I have to tell my parents that I am getting late. Maximum though is 5.30 pm.

Are you required to do chores at home?

There is work at home in the morning… cleaning, washing utensils, cooking. Even after I return from college, I watch some television for a bit but then have to make food.

What are your expectations from the government?

Some help in English. Because if you go anywhere, Delhi or somewhere else, the problem is speaking in English. Maybe they can start some classes specifically in spoken English at the college itself. All teaching is also in English.

Which news item this year impacted you the most?

Even after the Nirbhaya case, so many instances (of assaults) keep happening. That case has not seen justice either. There should be rules so that girls can travel safely, securely.

— Interviewed by Dipankar Ghose

Selina Sekh from Assam. (Express Photo/Dasarath Deka)

‘Tell me, is falling in love bad?

Selina Sekh

BA, First Semester, Sonapur College

SONAPUR, ASSAM

Amid controversies, the state on December 31 comes out with a draft National Register of Citizens, to weed out illegal migrants.

What do you want to do when you grow up?

I want to be an IPS officer. I see so much crime around me, and having seen police officers in films and in real life, I think that only by becoming an IPS officer will I be able to put an end to it.

Do you want to move to a big city?

No, I want to serve rural areas.

Do you have friends of the opposite sex? Has social media made this easier?

Yes, I have friends of the opposite sex. But I haven’t made friends through social media. I’m not on Facebook.

Are you in love? What does love mean to you? Is religion or caste a factor? Will you marry for love?

Yes, I am. For me, love is liking a person selflessly. I strongly feel that religion or caste should not be a factor in love. Tell me sir, is falling in love bad? As far as I’m concerned, I will first establish my career and identity, and then marry the person I love. I don’t think my parents will object.

Should women work after marriage?

Why not? Why am I studying? Because I want to stand on my own feet. Moreover, my talent and education will go waste if I don’t work.

How much time do you spend on your phone every day?

I spend an hour or two a day watching motivational videos and learning English. I also use WhatsApp.

What kind of books do you read?

I am fond of autobiographies, biographies. I love reading A P J Abdul Kalam. The last book I read was a Chetan Bhagat, but I can’t recall its name.

Which is your favourite film?

3 Idiots. I liked the way serious social issues were presented through comedy. The last film I saw was Dangal.

What kind of clothes do you like to wear?

I love wearing jeans and a top, and simple dresses. I get about Rs 1,000 a month from my maternal uncle. My parents are separated and my mother, my brother and I live with his family.

Do you face restrictions at home? Is there a curfew time?

I’m not allowed to wear jeans and trousers when I’m going out with friends, even if they are girls. I have to also get back home by 5 pm after attending tuitions.

Are you required to do chores at home?

Yes, I do a lot of work at home, like cleaning, tending the kitchen garden. I wash my own clothes, make my own bed.

What are your expectations from the government?

I expect a lot, like better roads, better electricity supply, flood management, better educational facilities, better healthcare, an end to the bandh culture. I also want the government to find a permanent solution to the Bangladeshi influx.

Which news item this year impacted you the most?

The eviction drive at Amchang Wildlife Sanctuary just behind our college in November. The way they dismantled the houses was too violent. The pictures of women and children wailing keeps haunting me. But I also wonder why the government remained silent when the families built the houses.

Social media status:

Not on Facebook Last WhatsApp forward: A class note to her English Major group on Dec 28

— Interviewed by Samudra Gupta Kashyap

M Ashwini from Salem. (Express Photo/Arun Janardhanan)

‘Wish someone told Anitha that suicide was the wrong decision’

M Ashwini

Bachelor of Naturopathy and Yogic Science, Sivaraj Naturopathy and Yoga Medical College

SALEM, TAMIL NADU

Ashwini is in the same college as Hadiya, whose fight to marry the man of her choice has seen her, for now, being placed in the dean’s ‘guardianship’

What do you want to do when you grow up?

I wanted to become a doctor. When I couldn’t get into the MBBS course, I realised naturopathy is also a medical field.

Do you want to move to a big city?

Not to Chennai or Coimbatore. When I imagine my workplace, I see my own village, where I want to serve poor people.

Do you have friends of the opposite sex? Has social media made this easier?

I studied in a girls’ school till Class 12. This is the first time I’m studying in a mixed class room. All the boys in my class are my friends. I do not have a Facebook account or WhatsApp as I’ve never had a computer and my phone is a basic Samsung model.

Are you in love? What does love mean to you? Is religion or caste a factor? Will you marry for love?

I’ve never had a boyfriend. I prefer character, not religion or caste. I think women should get married at the age of 23 and men at 25 or 26. I don’t have parents; it was my uncle who brought me up since childhood. I will go by his decision when it comes to marriage.

Should women work after marriage?

Definitely, if they want to.

How much time do you spend on your phone every day?

I use my phone to call my uncle’s family once in two days. Otherwise it has no use; it has no apps, only SMS.

What kind of books do you read?

I have never read a book; only textbooks.

Which is your favourite film?

I don’t recall any movie. If you insist, I would say Race Gurram (2014-Telugu) is my favourite. I like emotional, family dramas.

What kind of clothes do you like to wear?

I always wear chudidars. I don’t have any other clothes. My only expenditure is bus fare to my village near Hosur once or twice a month. Since I stay at a hostel and there is a college bus (she has full scholarship), I don’t have any other expenses.

Do you face restrictions at home? Is there a curfew?

There are no strict rules. But at home, I never go out without my uncle’s permission. And I always avoid talking to boys.

Are you required to do chores at home?

I do all the work when home.

What are your expectations from the government?

It has to end corruption.

Which news item this year impacted you the most?

The suicide of Anitha (a Dalit girl and school topper who committed suicide in Ariyalur district after she failed to clear NEET exam) made me sad. Like her, I also wrote NEET (National Eligibility cum Entrance Test) without coaching and failed. I was also depressed. I wished there was someone to tell her suicide was a wrong decision.

Social media status:

Not on Facebook

Not on WhatsApp

— Interviewed by Arun Janardhanan

Pallavi Chaubey from Gorakhpur. (Express Photo/Vishal Srivastav)

‘At career counselling, we were told teaching is safest for girls’

Pallavi Chaubey

BA, Sanskrit and Home Science, Third Year,

Deen Dayal Upadhyay Government Degree College, Sahjanwa

GORAKHPUR

CM Yogi Adityanath’s constituency, also seat of his Hindu Yuva Vahini

What do you want to do when you grow up?

I want to become a lecturer. I would also like to appear for PCS exams, with sociology as my subject.

Do you want to move to a big city?

I would like to move to Lucknow as I like the city and it would provide me better opportunities. Also, my brother lives there.

Do you have friends of the opposite sex? Has social media made this easier?

I do have some male friends. I also have friends from other castes, though a majority are Brahmin like me. And yes, social media has made it easier. Even if we cannot meet someone in person, we can stay in contact through WhatsApp or Facebook.

Are you in love? What does love mean to you? Is religion or caste a factor? Will you marry for love?

I am in love with someone from the village. However, it is very hard for me to define love; it is a strange and different feeling. Religion or caste is not a big deal for me, but it is for my family members… I would like to marry as per my own choice, when I am 24-25, but I am not sure I would get to.

Should women work after marriage?

Definitely, but in the society we live in, they won’t get a chance to. My father’s sister wanted to work after marriage, but she had to leave her job… I think teaching is the best option. It provides safety and respect. Recently we had career counselling in our college and there too it was suggested that we should all try to become teachers as it is the ‘safest profession’ for girls.

How much time do you spend on your phone every day?

I don’t have a phone, I use my father’s for studies, for general knowledge and current affairs. I search word meanings and definitions of terms. Sometimes I download books. I spend around 3-4 hours daily on it.

What kind of books do you read?

I like reading story books and books on general knowledge and current affairs. Recently I read Abhigyan Shakuntalam. It is my favourite book.

Which is your favourite film?

I like watching family movies. My favourite is Hum Saath Saath Hain. The last one I watched was Toilet: Ek Prem Katha.

What kind of clothes do you like to wear?

I like clothes that fully cover my body. Generally salwar-suit. I do not wear jeans etc as society does not allow it. I get around Rs 3,000 a month for personal expenses.

Do you face restrictions at home? Is there a curfew?

There is no such restriction, I get equal treatment at home. However, I am not allowed to stay out after sunset and have to get back home after college hours.

Are you required to do chores at home?

I do all the chores — cooking, washing dishes and clothes, cleaning. My mother has health issues, while my sisters are married. My father and brothers do not help out.

What are your expectations from the government?

I voted in the state elections. I expect the government to provide employment to the poor and not gifts and money. I did like what Modiji did for women… providing them gas cylinders. I want the government to focus on cleanliness and to make toilets.

Which news item this year impacted you the most?

I do not follow news much.

Social Media status:

Doesn’t own a phone

Uses father’s for Facebook, WhatsApp

— Interviewed by Avaneesh Mishra

Sumanpreet Kaur from Patti. (Rana Simranjit Singh)

‘I don’t have a phone. Mother has told me to wait. My elder brother has a phone’

Sumanpreet Kaur

BSc, Non-Medical, First Year, Guru Nanak Dev University College

PATTI, PUNJAB

Patti is 30 km from Pakistan border and falls on the drug highway. Every street of the town has a story on the drug problem.

What do you want to do when you grow up?

While I will go in for any option, I want to become a teacher above all.

Do you want to move to a big city?

Yes. I think we should see life there.

Do you have friends of the opposite sex? Has social media made this easier?

Not many. Social media has made some difference, but some are also exploiting it. I don’t use social media much. In my friend circle, no one is on Facebook. Some of them have phones, few use WhatsApp.

Are you in love? What does love mean to you? Is religion or caste a factor? Will you marry for love?

No, I am not in love. Love should mean finding someone who understands you. I will not marry outside my religion or caste; one has to think about the honour of one’s parents. I will go by their choice. But first, I want to stand on my own feet. (Laughing) But, yes, if my parents come up with a good proposal, it would be difficult to argue with them.

Should women work after marriage?

Yes, they must work. It gives them independence.

How much time do you spend on your phone every day?

I don’t have a phone. Mother has told me to wait. My elder brother has a phone. Sometimes I use my father’s.

What kind of books do you read?

Once I read a book on the four sons of Guru Gobind Singh.

Which is your favourite film?

I love both Punjabi movies and Bollywood. My favourite is PK. I have never been to a theatre, neither have any of my friends. (Patti has no theatres.)

What kind of clothes do you like to wear?

I wear only salwar-kameez. I spend very less, maybe Rs 100 per month. You have to keep the economic condition of the family in mind (her father runs a sweet shop).

Do you face restrictions at home? A curfew time?

My mother never objects if I get late at college. Otherwise, they must know where I am.

Are you required to do chores at home?

I have to clean the house in the morning. And in the evening, make chapatis and clean utensils.

What are your expectations from the government?

The government should think about the youth. Old people get jobs but not youth.

Which news item this year impacted you the most?

Recently we saw the news of the murder of a student at a school in Gurgaon.

Social Media status:

Doesn’t own a phone Last Whatsapp forward from father’s phone, a ‘health trick’: “the benefit of drinking 20 glasses of water a day”

— Interviewed by Kamaldeep Singh Brar

Adila Sherin T from Malappuram. (Express Photo/Shaju Philip)

‘The Hadiya incident divided Kerala. This should not have become a matter of debate’

Adila Sherin T

BA Malayalam, First Year, Government College

MALAPPURAM, KERALA

Recently, 3 Muslim girls who danced to Jimiki Kammal as part of a flash mob in the district were trolled

What do you want to do when you grow up?

Become a college teacher. My parents are both school teachers, they inspired me.

Do you want to move to a big city?

I will go to another place if the situation demands it. Say, if I get a job.

Do you have friends of the opposite sex? Has social media made this easier?

I have male friends. Yes, social media has helped, but my parents have told me to choose such friends carefully. So I accept friend requests if I know the person won’t harm me.

Are you in love? What does love mean to you? Is religion or caste a factor? Will you marry for love?

No, I am not in love. I don’t think religion is a factor. When two people fall in love, they do not bother about religion. But society drags religion in and spoils the love story… I would think about marriage only after getting a job. I prefer an arranged marriage, but it’s not that I won’t have it any other way. I would want my choice of partner to be supported and liked by my parents.

Should women work after marriage?

Yes, they should. But that does not happen always. A lot of men in the Muslim community discourage their partners from working. However, I am very clear I want to work.

What kind of books do you read?

Fiction is what interests me the most. My favourite novel is Agnisakshi by Lalithambika Antharjanam. The last novel I read was Kesavante Vilapangal by M Mukundan.

Which is your favourite film?

I watch all kinds of films… Recently, I saw Oridathoru Phayalvaan, a movie from 1981.

What kind of clothes do you like to wear?

I am most comfortable wearing churidar, along with a hijab. My major expense would be the daily bus fare to college and back — Rs 200 a month. Very rarely, I eat out with friends.

Do you face restrictions at home? Is there a curfew time?

I have never felt that I don’t have enough freedom at home. I am free to go out when I want. I only have to convince my parents.

How much time do you spend on your phone every day?

I read news and watch movies on my smartphone (Moto G). On an average, I spend an hour on the phone — surfing social media, watching movies or reading news.

Are you required to do chores at home?

Yes, I help my mother in the kitchen.

What are your expectations of the government?

A good government is one that takes its services to all sections of the people. The fruits of governance should reach everyone.

Which news item impacted you the most this year?

The Hadiya incident (whose conversion and marriage to a Muslim became a court case). You should be free to choose any religion and marry anyone. This should not have become the matter of debate. The incident had divided Kerala, with people taking either the ‘Muslim side’ or the ‘Hindu side’. And both sides have their own points to polarise society.

Social media status:

500 Facebook friends Last WhatsApp forward: Some study notes to a few friends

— Interviewed By Shaju Philip

Kushnada Sheikh from Uttara Kannada. (Express Photo/Himadri Sharma)

‘Whenever we go to weddings, they keep pointing out eligible boys’

Kushnada Sheikh

BSc, First Year, Government Arts and Science College

UTTARA KANNADA, KARNATAKA

The murder of an 18-year-old in Honnavar, in Uttara Kannada, and the communal tension it sparked have added to the confrontation building up between the BJP and Congress ahead of the 2018 polls.

What do you want to do when you grow up?

I want to be a doctor. I will take NEET (National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test) next year. If I don’t get through, I will continue with my BSc. I wrote the NEET exam last year, but missed. We were asked for a donation of Rs 12 lakh, which we couldn’t afford. My father is a mechanic in Karwar.

Do you want to move to a big city?

Yes. To Mangalore and Bangalore. Because the education there is better. Students there know many things and even their talking style is better than ours. My cousins in Dubai and Bangalore seem more confident. My father may not agree (to send me), but my mother will convince him.

Do you have friends of the opposite sex? Has social media made this easier?

Yes, but only in college. Some people message me on WhatsApp, but I don’t reply much.

Are you in love? What does love mean to you? Is religion or caste an issue? Will you marry for love?

I am only in love with film actors, like (Tamil actor) Aadhi. Religion will, of course, be an issue. In my family, it is said that you should not fall in love until you are a certain age and definitely not outside your religion. So if I find someone after the age of 21, it should be okay. But the boy should be good. There are certain rules and criteria. My family has to accept that person. I can’t go love anyone I like… My mother says if I want to finish my studies first, they will not force me to get married. She says that, but other family members keep saying that she is already 18, time to look for a boy. Whenever we go to weddings, they keep pointing out eligible boys. I want to settle my life before I get married. I should get a good job, and fulfil my mother’s wishes. She wants me to be a doctor.

Should women work after marriage?

Yes. My mom wanted to work but my dad didn’t allow it. I don’t want that to happen to me.

How much time do you spend on your phone every day?

I watch some videos of animals and some about zoology. When my sister is with me, I watch some cartoon videos. I also watch some news. If I use my smartphone (LG, with a prepaid connection) too much, my mother will grumble, ‘You are always on the phone’. Once my father comes home, I don’t use the phone.

What kind of books do you read?

I like Chetan Bhagat. The last book I read was by Sudeep Nagarkar. My friend loaned it to me. Once I got a copy of Jungle Book as a school prize. I read that as well. I also read some books on the Kindle app.

Which is your favourite film?

I like Salman Khan films… also Tamil films, especially Aadhi’s movies. I like the action in their films.

What kind of clothes do you like to wear?

I like to wear Western dresses, but I am not allowed to. I always wear churidar and long gowns. I don’t have a personal budget. My parents buy my clothes for me.

Do you face restrictions at home? Is there a curfew time?

I should be back by 6 or 6.30 pm. And I should not hang out too much with my friends. That’s all.

Are you required to do chores at home?

I sweep the floor, wash the vessels. Sometimes I make tea for dad. I like cooking. I recently made biryani.

What are your expectations of the government?

I will vote this year. I want the government to just remove poverty. There are many people who don’t get food and education. Also, children should not be begging on the streets.

Which news item disturbed you the most this year?

What happened in Honnavar and the Hindu-Muslim riots that followed. Everyone was scared. If Hindus and Muslims fight, the government will not come to help. Only friends and relatives will help us.

Social Media status:

Not on Facebook, but on Instagram. About 200 followers there

Last WhatsApp forward: ‘Don’t remember’

— Interviewed by Amrita Dutta

Vidyarani Balasaheb Ingawale from Solapur. (Express Photo)

‘With development, there is scope for growth in cities… It is not so in villages’

Vidyarani Balasaheb Ingawale

BSc, first year, Sangola College

SOLAPUR, MAHARASHTRA

The rift between Marathas and Dalits in the state has taken a turn for the worse after two recent court judgments, which saw Dalits being convicted for a rape-murder, and Marathas being acquitted of killing a Dalit teenager.

What do you want to do when you grow up?

I want to be a software engineer. It’s something I have decided for myself.

Do you want to move to a big city?

Yes, I would like to move to a big city. There are a lot of issues in the villages compared to cities. For example, transport is a problem here. With a lot of development and infrastructure in the cities, there is scope for growth, which is not the case in villages.

Do you have friends of the opposite sex? Has social media made this easier?

I have a few friends from the opposite sex in college as we study in the same class. But there has been no impact of social media on my friendships.

Are you in love? What does love mean to you? Is religion or caste a factor? Will you marry for love?

No, I’m not interested in love. My parents will chose the boy for my marriage. I think the right age for marriage is 24-25 years. Because I would have had some job experience and might be settled by then.

Should women work after marriage?

Yes, women should work after marriage. It will help them stand on their feet.

How much time do you spend on your phone every day?

I spend almost two hours on my phone a day, mostly on WhatsApp. I am not on Facebook. I don’t have time to spend on social networking sites due to my college timings, which are from 9 am and 5 pm.

What kind of books do you read?

I read random books. The last one I read was a Marathi novel, Aayushyachya Valanavarati; it is my favourite book. It details the difficulties a woman faces after the death of her husband.

Which is your favourite film?

I love Dangal. It shows girls’ struggles in what is a men’s domain. The last movie I saw was Khatarnak Khiladi (the dubbed Hindi version of the Telugu movie Mirchi).

What kind of clothes do you like to wear?

I like wearing jeans. I also wear dresses but not ones that are either too short or long.

Do you face restrictions at home? Is there a curfew time?

There are no restrictions at home. My parents never say reach at this time or something like that. If I am getting late due to the bus, then I need to inform them on the phone.

Are you required to do chores at home?

I’m not required to do any work at home. Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t.

What are your expectations from the government?

The government should not shut schools unnecessarily. Only if students are not coming, it is okay to close them down.

Which news item this year impacted you the most?

Demonetisation had impacted me a lot; it caused a lot of inconveniences.

Social media status:

No Facebook account

Last WhatsApp forward: A ‘Good Night’ image

— Interviewed by Vishwas Waghmode

Sunita Kumari from Khunti. (Express Photo/Prashant Pandey)

‘I am planning to go for a picnic. Only girls!’’

Sunita Kumari

BA, First Year, Birsa College

KHUNTI, JHARKHAND

It’s one of the worst districts in the country when it comes to human trafficking, as per NCRB data.

What do you want to do when you grow up?

(After much thought) Nursing, maybe. I haven’t really thought. We have a small plot of land, and my parents work as farmers.

Do you want to move to a big city?

I don’t want to go to another, bigger city. I like it here. I have never even been to Ranchi. I don’t go to fairs either. But now I am planning to go for a picnic. Only girls!

Do you have friends of the opposite sex? Has social media made this easier?

No, I don’t get into all this. We are a group of two-three girls; we stick together.

Are you in love? What does love mean to you? Is religion or caste a factor? Will you marry for love?

(Smiling shyly) Why are you asking all this, sir… Is it necessary?… I am 18 but I would like to complete my studies before I get married. Of course, my parents will decide. They have not told me yet, but they must be already planning my marriage.

Should women work after marriage?

I know girls who work after marriage. That is fine. I have not thought about it. Who knows? I will try to work from home.

How much time do you spend on your phone every day?

I think these things, Facebook, WhatsApp, are a waste of time. As it is, I live some 20 km from the college. It takes between 60-90 minutes to reach here. And then, you have to return on time… My father has not bought me a mobile phone.

What kind of books do you read?

I am not into books much. If a friend brings along a magazine, I take a look.

Which is your favourite film?

I don’t watch TV much. Sometimes I watch films on the laptop of friends. I don’t have any favourites… maybe Salman Khan?

What kind of clothes do you like to wear?

Anything! I can wear anything I want… jeans, skirts, dresses. (Pointing to her dress) We have a weekly market in the village, we get everything there. All this is from there.

Do you face restrictions at home? Is there a curfew time?

Once I am through with college, I have to return home. No loitering around.

Are you required to do chores at home?

No. I mean, there are things to be done, but I am the youngest and hence my parents don’t insist much.

What are your expectations from the government?

I will get voter ID made as it is needed, but I don’t care much about the government.

Which news item this year impacted you the most?

I don’t follow news. My only job is to finish my studies… then we will see.

Social media status:

Not on Facebook, WhatsApp: “They are a waste of time”

— Interviewed By Prashant Pandey

Roomi Nazir from South Kashmir. (Express Photo/Shuaib Masoodi)

‘I love Anushka Sharma and I think I’m a lot like her…I wish there were movie theatres in Kashmir’

Roomi Nazir

BA Journalism, First Year, Government college for Women, Srinagar

SOUTH KASHMIR

Roomi is from Awantipora in South Kashmir, the region worst hit by militancy

What do you want to do when you grow up?

I want to become a civil servant. I will attempt both the IAS and the Kashmir Administrative Services exam. My father is also a government official; he works for the state forest department.

Do you want to move to a big city?

I want to move to Bengaluru. I have some friends there and they always say great things about the city.

Do you have friends of the opposite sex? Has social media made this easier?

I have lots of male friends. Social media has changed my life. I was in a Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya in Ganderbal and used to be an introvert. It was like I was freed from jail once I got out of there. Now I am like an all-rounder. Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp are what I use the most on social media.

Are you in love? What does love mean to you? Is religion or caste a factor? Will you marry for love?

I get a new crush every day, but I would want to fall in love… My boarding school had a lot of boys and we kept in touch. Caste is not an issue at my house. If he matches my calibre, they will accept the boy I choose. But yes, religion will probably be an issue. I think 25-30 years is a good time to get married. I would not allow anyone else to choose a partner for me. If I meet someone who I think I could live with, I will tell my parents. We are like friends.

Should women work after marriage?

Yes, of course.

How much time do you spend on your phone every day?

I spend a lot of time on my phone (a Samsung J7). About eight hours, chatting with friends. I download a lot of music.

What kind of books do you read?

I like biographies and murder mysteries. Gone With the Wind is my favourite. Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express is the last book I read.

Which is your favourite film?

Jab Tak Hai Jaan is my favourite. I love Anushka Sharma and I think I’m a lot like her in my attitude. I like comedies and those proper masala movies with action. The last movie I saw was Vivah, it was on TV yesterday. I wish there were movie theatres in Kashmir.

What kind of clothes do you like to wear?

I like Western wear. I get some pocket money, depending on how much I need.

Do you face restrictions at home? Is there a curfew time?

I have no restrictions at home. They feel I have adopted a ‘daring’ field (journalism), so I’m allowed to be late.

Are you required to do chores at home?

I help my mother out with chores on weekends. My elder sisters are married or working, so I have to help her out.

What are your expectations from the government?

My expectation from the government is to reduce the violence that the youth of Kashmir face.

Which news item this year impacted you the most?

Nothing particularly, though the debate around the movie Padmavati caught my attention. Movie makers should think about whether they are hurting anyone’s sentiments.

Social media status:

500 Facebook friends

Last WhatsApp forward: A New Year’s personality quiz; “got about 200 responses”

— Interviewed by Naveed Iqbal

Lakshika Upadhyaya from Chittorgarh. (Express Photo/Rohit Paras Jain)

‘Never has my father called me up and asked me why I’m out late’

Lakshika Upadhyaya

BSc, Second Year, Maharana Pratap Government Post Graduate College

CHITTORGARH

The city was at the heart of protests over Padmavati; the film’s release has been deferred.

What do you want to do when you grow up?

I want to be an IAS officer.

Do you want to move to a big city?

I will be eligible for IAS examinations only when I’m 21. So I will clear an M.Sc before that. But I don’t want to enroll for an M.Sc here, it will either be at Rajasthan University or through the Joint Admission Test (JAM) for M.Sc.

Do you have friends of the opposite sex? Has social media made this easier?

Yes, mostly classmates. Social media has made it easier, but I am a little wary about choosing (male) friends who are not my classmates.

Are you in love? What does love mean to you? Is religion or caste a factor? Will you marry for love?

(Laughing) Love is a very good thing. One can be in love with anyone. So far, I haven’t fallen in love with anyone. I only have a lot of friends. Right now, my aim is to be in the IAS, uske baad mein jo hoga, hoga (whatever happens afterwards will happen). As for religion or caste being a factor, jab pyar kiya toh darna kya (why fear if you’re in love). Between love and arranged marriage, I will go with arranged marriage and support my parents. I think the right time to marry is when you are mature and independent.

Should women work after marriage?

Yes, they should. Girls should have the same expectations as boys.

How much time do you spend on your phone every day?

I have a Yu Yureka mobile phone that my father, a diesel engineer, bought me for Rs 11,000. I mostly use it for WhatsApp. I downloaded Instagram too but I don’t really get it. Also, I don’t get much time now to use my phone. Once you are engrossed, even 24 hours on the phone isn’t enough.

What kind of books do you read?

I like motivational books, such as Agni ki Udaan (Wings of Fire) by (former president) A P J Abdul Kalam. Reading it gets me back on track. I have read it four times and it is the last book I read.

Which is your favourite film?

I like romantic movies. Prem Ratan Dhan Payo (2015 film by Sooraj Barjatya) is my favourite movie. Last movie I watched was Maine Pyar Kiya on television.

What kind of clothes do you like to wear?

I like traditional clothes, such as a Patiala suit. Aur jab jo cheez khareedni hoti hai toh khareedni hoti hai bas. (If I want to buy something, then I have to buy it). Papa does get me the things I want, but I have to wait a little.

Do you face restrictions at home? Is there a curfew time?

Never has my father called me up and asked me why I’m out late. In fact I tell my mummy ki kabhi toh poochho mujhse (to ask me sometimes why I’m late). They know I go to college and come back. I tell them my day’s schedule in advance.

Are you required to do chores at home?

Yes, I have to work when I am not studying and when, according to my mother (a home-maker), I’m unnecessarily talking a lot. Then my mummy says, ‘Chal, pocha laga de, jhadu laga de (sweep and mop the floor)’. Sometimes I also do it on my own when there is no one at home. Then the work gets done swiftly.

What are your expectations from the government?

There should be placements here in our college… also a badminton court. Chittorgarh has industry, especially cement, but the big firms don’t come here (to recruit). They should also help us develop our personality. We should have an Industrial Training Institute here and fortnightly training camps, such as for fashion designing.

Which news item this year impacted you the most?

It was about Padminiji; she is our mother. She is the queen of Chittorgarh. History shouldn’t be distorted. What is written is correct. If they (producers) wanted, they could have changed the name of the film.

Social Media status:

Stopped using Facebook about six months ago

Last WhatsApp forward: ‘Jai Shri Krishna’ to her sister

— Interviewed by Hamza Khan

Rajeshwari Naik Dharavath from Adilabad. (Express Photo/Sreenivas Janyala)

‘What is the point of education if women can’t work after marriage?’

Rajeshwari Naik Dharavath

BSc Forestry, First Year, Telangana State Forest Academy

ADILABAD, TELANGANA

Rajeshwari is a Lambada, a nomadic tribe that is at the receiving end of a violent Adivasi agitation in Adilabad district. The Adivasis want them excluded, alleging they are cornering the 6 per cent ST quota.

What do you want to do when you grow up?

I wanted to become a doctor — there are so few in my community — but I could not make it. I chose forestry as it is my next favourite subject. I will write my UPSC too. I want to become an IAS officer like Bhukya Chandrakala (a Telangana tribal who cracked the UPSC after becoming a mother).

Do you want to move to a big city?

No, since forests are my area of work, there is no chance of moving to a big city. I don’t want to move either.

Do you have friends of the opposite sex? Has social media made this easier?

They are all classmates or ex-classmates. Of course, as a girl, there are a lot of restrictions, and I am okay with this.

Are you in love? What does love mean to you? Is religion or caste a factor? Will you marry for love?

(Doesn’t want to talk about love.) One should get married after completing higher education and when one is ready. But I will marry as per my parents’ choice.

Should women work after marriage?

Yes, that is why we go for higher education and study hard, right? What is the point of education if women are not allowed to work after marriage?

How much time do you spend on your phone every day?

I am not a phone person. I use it only for basic communication (owns a Samsung Galaxy J5 phone worth Rs 10,000).

What kind of books do you read?

I only read textbooks.

Which is your favourite film?

All kinds. The last film I watched was MCA (Telugu film, Middle Class Abayi).

What kind of clothes do you like to wear?

Salwar-kameez. My father (a small farmer) buys them for me.

Do you face restrictions at home? Is there a curfew time?

If I am not in college, I am usually home.

Are you required to do chores at home?

There is no compulsion, but it comes to me naturally.

What are your expectations from the government?

In society, women lag behind in almost every sphere. There is still no safety for women. Governments should concentrate on creating more education opportunities.

Which news item impacted you the most this year?

The news of the Adivasi agitation against the Lambadas… it was unexpected, and unfair. There was all kind of news on how Lambadas cornered the quota, and the dreadful news of clashes in villages.

Social media status:

200 Facebook friends

Last WhatsApp forward: On ‘Save My India’

— Interviewed by Sreenivas Janyala

Rohita Soares from Goa. (Express)

‘I have friends as I loiter a lot.. boys make easier friends as they do not gossip’

Rohita Soares

Institute of Nursing, Bambolim

GOA

The idyllic beach state is being swamped by coal — nearly 25 million tonnes of it is to be unloaded each year at the Mormugao Port Trust by 2020 — with serious implications for its roads, rivers, forests, and above all, its people

What do you want to do when you grow up?

I am pursuing nursing seriously. I also want do a Master’s in science. Eventually, I plan to take up a nursing job abroad; the techniques and working conditions are far superior in the West. The pay is also supported with perks.

Do you want to move to a big city?

I am looking to move to Mumbai first, to do my Master’s. I will then apply to Europe for a nursing stint. But, I always see myself returning to Goa, to settle down here some day.

Do you have friends of the opposite sex? Has social media made this easier?

One of my closest friends is a boy. I have friends as I loiter a lot. I also find it easier to make friends with boys as they do not gossip. They keep things simple. Social media is good, but I also have friends outside it.

Are you in love? What does love mean to you? Is religion or caste a factor? Will you marry for love?

In the past, I have been in love, but I guess it was one-sided. You can say I have not been in a relationship. Love is in the little details and small acts done every day. I see school students, and even friends around me, and it sometimes amazes me. They do funny things, dump a person today, fall for another the next day. I don’t see myself in such a situation. I can’t answer if religion and caste will be an issue. For me, personally, it will not. But I guess we take decisions within society; so we mirror it in a way.

I think 28 is a good age to marry. By then, you would have pursued education and found a good job. At a later age, it would be easier for both the individuals to make their own rules, instead of listening to everyone.

Should women work after marriage?

Of course, yes. What kind of a question is this? A girl also puts in equal effort to study hard, learn new skills, get a degree. Why should she then forget all that and just remain at home?

How much time do you spend on your phone every day?

I use Instagram, WhatsApp, YouTube. It’s through the day; I don’t know how much time I spend.

What kind of books do you read?

I read fiction, romantic novels mostly. These are easy on me. My favourite recently is A lot like Love…a Ll’l like Chocolate by Sumrit Shahi. I am now reading The World’s Best Boyfriend by Durjoy Dutta.

Which is your favourite film?

Kapoor and Sons; I relate to that movie. I found many traits of the family familiar. I don’t like action. I find it fake. I love comedy. The last movie I felt truly inspired by was Secret Superstar. It had a young girl, the pressure of religion, and the overall effort and triumph.

What kind of clothes do you like to wear?

I usually don’t spend much on clothes. I pick clothes that suit me. I have a mix of Indian and Western outfits. When I need money, I ask my parents (her father has a carpentry business, and runs a catering service), else I am sorted.

Do you face restrictions at home? Is there a curfew time?

My mother is superstitious, hence there are strict rules to return home early, safe, and since I also ride a bike, she is always worried.

Are you required to do chores at home?

I am, but I’m always loitering as I love to ride a bike and roam around. My mother wants me to help her more; I try.

What are your expectations from the government?

I got my registration SMS recently and will vote in the next election. I fail to understand the idea of reservations. I put in long hours to study, but governments allow those with lesser marks to get ahead. I don’t get it.

Which news item this year impacted you the most?

There were a few deaths this year after a picnic party from my village, Raia, went to a waterfall. That news was very disturbing. It also affected us directly as now we have restrictions on picnics.

Social media status:

300 Facebook friends

Last WhatsApp forward: Christmas wishes

— Interviewed by Smita Nair

Krupa Sutariya from Botad. (Express Photo/Salman Raja)

‘My friends are on Facebook, but I don’t feel the need to use it so soon’

Krupa Sutariya

Class 12, Arts stream, Kanya Chatralaya School, Latihad village

BOTAD, GUJARAT

Dominated by Patidars, who joined Hardik Patel’s movement. In Latihad village of this district, Hardik was weighed in packets of blood.

What do you want to do when you grow up?

I want to become a teacher. For a woman, it is a dignified, noble job.

Do you want to move to a big city?

Absolutely. I would like to settle in Ahmedabad. The people there do what they want to, and wear what they feel like.

Do you have friends of the opposite sex? Has social media made this easier?

I have a few friends in the village who are boys. I am only on WhatsApp as my parents are very strict about using the phone. A lot of my friends are on Facebook, but I do not feel the need to use it so soon. When I get a job and start living in the city, I might.

Are you in love? What does love mean to you? Is religion or caste a factor? Will you marry for love?

There is no chance we will be allowed to fall in love. Love is something I have read about in books and seen in the movies. My parents will choose a boy from our caste and religion, and there is nothing wrong with that.

Should women work after marriage?

They should work in a field that allows them to manage the house too. Being a teacher means that one is free by the evening, and then there are long holidays.

How much time do you spend on your phone every day?

I spend about 2 hours on the phone; I share it with my mother. I have WhatsApp groups of friends and we use these to decide where to meet and to send greetings etc.

What kind of books do you read?

I love reading books. The last book I read was Borsali ni Pankar (Sudha Murty’s book, translated in Gujarati).

Which is your favourite film?

Since most girls my age are not allowed to go for movies, we camp at each other’s homes at night and watch films. The last film I saw was Half Girlfriend. Comedy films are my favourite.

What kind of clothes do you like to wear?

I like jeans and tops. I wear the same when I go out with friends. When I go out with family, I wear salwar-kameez. My parents allow me to buy what I like as long as I do not spend a lot of money on clothes (her father is a farmer and owns a grocery shop).

Do you face restrictions at home? Is there a curfew time?

There are restrictions regarding talking on the phone for long or hanging out with friends for long. I have to be back at home latest by 8 pm.

Are you required to do chores at home?

I do kaachra pocha (sweeping, mopping). A girl has to learn housework. I also help my mother in cooking.

What are your expectations from the government?

I want the government to work on women’s safety. I also heard the village talk about PAAS (Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti). The government should consider the demands of my community.

Which news item impacted you this year the most?

The fights that happened after the Anamat Andolan started. The police were in our village. Our village was shut for a few days, buses were burnt… We are all with Hardik because he is asking for something which will help our community.

Social media status:

Not on Facebook

Last WhatsApp forward: ‘Good Morning’ to a friends’ group

— Interviewed by Preeti Das

Pooja Kumari from Munger. (Express Photo/Santosh Singh)

‘I want to go to Bhagalpur. My father can’t afford to send me to Delhi or Patna’

Pooja Kumari

BA Honours (History), Second Year, R S College, Tarapur

MUNGER

The Bihar district is notorious for its illegal gun-running units supplying arms across country. Munger Police put the business at over Rs 60 cr a year.

What do you want to do when you grow up?

I want to become a teacher. It is a respectable job. Even in-laws do not mind.

Do you want to move to a big city?

I want to go to Bhagalpur. My father is a small-time businessman and farmer and cannot afford to send me to Patna or Delhi.

Do you have friends of the opposite sex? Has social media made this easier?

Yes, I have several friends as I study in a co-ed college, but I cannot call them home. Parents are not yet ready for it. Facebook and WhatsApp have surely made it easier to look for friends, but I would still trust real friends.

Are you in love? What does love mean to you? Is religion or caste a factor? Will you marry for love?

(Embarrassed) No. I am not sure what love means, maybe mutual trust and respect. Caste and religion are not a factor on the campus, but they are surely a factor in marriage. I will go by my parents’ choice. They can take a much better decision than I can for myself.

Should women work after marriage?

100 per cent.

How much time do you spend on your phone every day?

I generally use my phone for WhatsApp and Facebook and to check mails.

What kind of books do you read?

Short stories and novels. Premchand’s Godaan is my favourite book. The last book I read was Premchand’s Nirmala.

Which is your favourite film?

Vivah (2006) is my favourite film as it shows a girl is acceptable because of her inner beauty than outer one.

What kind of clothes do you wear?

I like salwar-kameez the most but wear jeans and top at times. My monthly budget is Rs 1,200-1,500.

Do you face restrictions at home? Is there a curfew time?

I am generally not allowed to leave after sunset. It hurts at times but I understand it is due to concern for my safety.

Are you required to do chores at home?

Yes. I prepare dinner as mother needs a break after a tiring day.

What are your expectations from the government?

I want the government to open a college of excellence in every district.

Social media status:

About 100 Facebook friends

Last WhatsApp forward: A Christmas wish to friends

— Interviewed by Santosh Singh

Himanshi Sisodiya from Mandsaur. (Express Photo/Milind Ghatwai)

‘I am Rajput. In my community, love is a sensitive issue’

Himanshi Sisodiya

BCom, First Year, Rajeev Gandhi PG College

MANDSAUR, MADHYA PRADESH

In June 2017, a farmer protest in Mandsaur had turned violent, with six farmers killed in police firing. The farmers were demanding better remuneration for their crops and a waiver of their loans

What do you want to do when you grow up?

My father runs a travel agency and my grandfather is a farmer. But I want to be a district collector because it’s a job that exudes power. I also want to improve my communication skills.

Would you want to move to a big city, and if so, where?

Mandsaur is such a small place. I would like to go to Delhi. But Delhi is considered unsafe for girls and if my parents object to my moving to the city, I would prefer Ahmedabad, which is very safe for girls.

Do you have friends of the opposite sex? Has social media made this easier?

Yes. It’s easier to make friends of both genders on social media.

Are you in love? What does love mean to you? Is religion or caste a factor? Will you marry for love?

No, I am not in love. Love is a waste of time and money. Anyway, society does not accept such unions. When I marry, I will go by my parents’ choice. I belong to a Rajput family. For my community, it’s a sensitive issue.

Should women work after marriage?

Yes. Anyway, Hindu women don’t face restrictions on working post marriage. Muslim women at the receiving end of triple talaq would find themselves in a much better position if they were working.

How much time do you spend on your phone?

Smartphone is a basic necessity. I spend nearly four hours on my phone every day. I use it to collect information. Ever since I got my smartphone, my grades have dropped.

What kind of books do you read?

I love reading historical books. Can Love Happen Twice is the last book I read.

Which is your favourite film?

Neerja. I also liked Pink and Golmaal.

What kind of clothes do you like to wear?

I like to wear jeans and tees. I have no fixed budget for clothes. If I end up spending more than Rs 500, I ask my mother and she obliges.

What restrictions do you face at home? Is there a curfew time?

I make it a point to return home by 9 pm.

Are you required to do chores at home?

Yes, I must.

What are your expectations of the government?

The government should have stringent laws to stop the harassment of girls. Also, the government should open more IITs.

Which news item this year impacted you the most?

The deaths of farmers in police firing in Mandsaur. Schools were shut for many days.

Social media status:

1,000 plus Facebook friends

Last WhatsApp forward: About a protest in her college.

— Interviewed by Milind Ghatwai

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  1. Madan Gupta
    Dec 31, 2017 at 6:36 am
    HINDU GIRLS LIKE THE MUSLIM CIRCUMCISED BOYS VERY MUCH.
    (0)(2)
    Reply