Our role in building a safe online space

Following the ‘Bois locker room’ conversation that went viral on social media, Aditi, a 16-year-old girl, decided to write on Instagram about the bullying and harassment that her best friend has been facing in school, and what she thought the school should do to stop such harassment. Even though she did not name her friend or her harassers, to Aditi’s disbelief and horror, her classmates flooded her post with comments to take the post down, calling her and her friend liars because she had not named the people involved. They accused her of trying to get attention. Aditi was upset and lost, she didn’t know what to do. She only meant to share her friend’s experiences to show that such things happened in her school too…

What was worse, Aditi’s friend stopped speaking to her; she had not responded to the post or her messages. Aditi was worried that her friend was angry with her because she had not told her friend that she was posting about her experiences online. Aditi did not know whom to confide in about her worries. She took the post down that night. What she believed was a safe space to start a conversation about creating change, was tormenting her instead. It had made her a public ridicule and possibly lose a valued friendship.

Experiences like Aditi’s are not new or unique. You may have heard of similar incidents too. The Internet and social media are exciting and wonderful because they help us have fun, learn, connect with new people and enjoy with our friends. At the same time, they are also spaces where people may feel judged for what they do or say. Much of what happens on the Internet and social media is public and can be easily accessed by others who are online. And things that we say online remain there unless we voluntarily remove them, and even if not, can almost always be saved through a screenshot. That puts a lot of
responsibility in our hands to be mindful of what we say. Imagine seeing a hurtful comment someone wrote to you over and over again – it might make you feel hurt, embarrassed or angry every time you see it!

The other thing about online spaces is that it also helps us be anonymous. While this is great to share a lot of things safely without being targeted, unfortunately online bullies may use it to mock or hurt someone without ever facing consequences.


This could make us vulnerable, adding to difficulties we may already be facing due to low self-esteem, problems within the family and/or at school, or difficulties with friends.

If we want the Internet to be safe for all of us to enjoy, we must remember that an online space is very similar to the physical spaces in which we live. We know that bullying, calling names, and being
disrespectful are not acceptable in the real world. So why should the online world be any different?

We all have a role to play in keeping online spaces safe and welcoming for all. Here are four simple ways in which we can do this:

Getting consent: To obtain consent is to seek permission from someone for something to happen, be it offline or online. For instance, if you want to post a picture of your friend on Instagram, have you considered whether they will feel comfortable with the photo being posted? You wouldn’t know unless you asked, right? Also, consent given for one thing does not automatically extend to other things. If your friend consents to having one of their photos uploaded on Instagram, it does not necessarily mean that they are comfortable with you sharing other photos as well. Aditi, in the story in the beginning, didn’t ask her friend’s consent for sharing her story, and she is going to have to speak to her to regain her trust now! Consent is important every step of the way.

Respecting others’ opinions: In school and at home, we learn why values like respect and diversity are important. Learning these values also means understanding that often, others will
have different opinions, and that is okay, as long as that opinion is not judgmental, abusive or disrespectful. That reflects online too! Even in a situation where we do not agree with someone, can we share our opinions politely, without shaming or being rude to the other person? After all, aren’t we all always sure that our opinion is the “correct” one?


Creating a non-judgmental space: Don’t we often not say something because we’re wondering how the other person will judge us for it? For instance, your friend may not say ‘no’ out loud about his experiences being shared online, because he’s worried he may be judged as not being brave enough. Or we might agree that what someone is wearing is funny, because everyone else seems to think so and they will make fun of us if we don’t agree! It takes time to build an environment where friends feel comfortable saying something without being judged, but it is very important to do that both offline and online, be it on a social media group or a WhatsApp group.

Not using offensive language: It seems funny and harmless to put words online, especially if one is anonymous. But how would you feel if somebody called you an “idiot” for scoring less in English? These kinds of words hurt, even if they are said online and by someone anonymous. Words that make fun of people for how they look or behave, like “chhakka”, “slut”, “homo” or “sissy”, are disrespectful, and can make the online space very hurtful for them.

As you can see, some small steps can help us make the online world safe and inclusive for all of us. We all have a right to be online without being bullied, ridiculed or harassed for our opinions and actions. Wouldn’t you agree that the world is nicer when we are more accepting and empathetic towards each other?

What is Cyberbullying?

If a person is trying to bully or harass someone else online – for example on a social networking site – it is known as online or cyberbullying.

Chances are that you’ve either experienced cyberbullying yourself or witnessed this happening to someone you know.
If you’ve read rumors about a person online that were being spread with the intention of humiliating this person — that’s a form of cyberbullying. Most often, bullying starts offline (school, classes, playgrounds etc.) and then carries forward online as well.

Sometimes online bullying and harassment is easy to spot. Someone might post rumors about you, make threats, pass sexual remarks, share your personal information or pictures with others without your consent or use hate speech. And other times, it might be harder to tell if you’re being cyberbullied. Especially, if it is being done by someone you know well. For example, if you continue to receive emails or text messages from someone even after you’ve asked them to stop. Or someone repeatedly passes personal comments online that make you uncomfortable. Even being intentionally and cruelly excluded from an online group comes under the banner of cyberbullying.

Cyberbullying can be summed up as hurtful peer behaviour that is being intentionally/deliberately done, repeatedly and with the intention of harming the other person — via a phone, computer or any electronic device.

How does cyberbullying impact mental health?
As we’ve discussed, cyberbullying takes many forms — and because it’s online, it can happen anywhere, at any time of the day or night, which can make it feel inescapable. Exposure to such bullying and harassment seriously impacts one’s mental health and well-being.

Cyberbullying can cause deterioration in mental health.
 Young people who have been bullied, online and offline, are much more likely to have a lower sense of self-worth and well-being. Being bullied is linked to mental ill-health conditions — for example depression — that are long-lasting. Research shows that children and young people who are currently experiencing a mental health problem are more likely to have been bullied online. Bullying also impacts other areas of a person’s life, such as their academic performance. Research data tells us that those experiencing cyberbullying are more likely to experience suicidal thoughts and behavior or have thoughts of self-harm.

Those most vulnerable to cyberbullying
There are certain groups of people who are more likely to experience cyberbullying on account of their age, gender, sexuality, ability, caste, class and socio-economic background.

Cyberbullying impacts certain vulnerable groups and identities more than others.
For example, children with special educational needs are more likely to be subject to persistent bullying. Similarly, girls are more likely to report having experienced cyberbullying than boys. LGBTQ young people, those from a migrant background or a marginalized caste/religious community, and children/young people from lower socio-economic backgrounds are also more exposed to cyberbullying. Children and young people with pre-existing or emerging mental health conditions – such as depression – are also at greater risk of experiencing cyberbullying than other groups. The vulnerabilities that these groups of children and young people experience mean they are more likely to experience cyberbullying.

How do others my age respond to cyberbullying?
It’s likely that you have witnessed a peer or stranger being bullied online. You could have either observed this happening and not intervened, defended the person being cyberbullied or contributed to the bullying yourself.

Witnessing cyberbullying but not intervening is called ‘bystander behavior’.
There are a number of reasons why you may have chosen not to intervene in cyberbullying. For example, you might have been concerned about your own safety. You might have been concerned that if you intervened, you would receive abuse or negative responses. Or, you might have not known what to say or how to intervene.

 What you may not know, is that not intervening or being a silent bystander, also adds up to cyberbullying. Because when we don’t speak up against these forms of abuse, violence, or harassment — we are silently ‘normalizing’ such behavior. Bystanders send a message to both the person engaging in bullying and the person being bullied — that the behavior is ok. And overtime this ‘ups the frequency’ of such behavior and the intensity of these acts.

 What are some steps that I can take today?
If you or someone you know is being bullied online, there are steps you/they can take to deal with the situation:

Reach out for help: If you are experiencing distress related to cyberbullying, reach out  to someone whom you trust — a friend, relative or maybe even an adult you trust — who can help you work through the situation.

Use available technology and tools to cut off the bully: Most social media apps and services enable you to block someone else. They also enable you to report inappropriate online behavior or material.

Report cyberbullying:The Ministry of Women and Child Development  launched a helpline ([email protected]) to report cyberbullying, online harassment, and cyber defamation, particularly against women and children.Most colleges and universities have a Women Development Cell (WDC) that you can contact to report cyberbullying.

Protect your accounts: Don’t share your passwords with anyone, even your closest friends, and password-protect your phone so no one can use it to impersonate you.

How can I get help online?
If you, or someone you know, is experiencing distress related to cyberbullying or otherwise, there are mental health resources that you can avail for free.

iCallis a national, free helpline in India that provides counselling via phone, email or chat to anyone in need of emotional support, irrespective of age, gender, sexual orientation or race, and transcending geographical distances while ensuring confidentiality.







Cyberbullying and Mental Health: The Twin Tower Problem

The world around us is unravelling amidst the Coronavirus outbreak and so are our systems and structures. From a change in the way we work or study to a change in just being, our daily schedules have changed, our worries have changed, and by changed I mean increased manifold! While we are struggling with a pandemic of global scale, a lot of us have our offices brought into our bedrooms and our school come to our night tables, and yes, having a dedicated study corner is a privilege that many don’t have! Schools are conducting classes online and it is a new experience for everyone involved. Students are now exposed to a lot more hours on the internet, parents are exposed to a lot more parenting as their children get schooled online and teachers are now forced to not just teach but also learn the internet to keep themselves relevant and useful.

With the advent of regular online classes, the restriction on screen hours have reduced considerably for children and this has led to several issues of its own. Uninhibited access to the internet can expose children to all sorts of harmful and offensive content as the web runs sans any borders and therefore, can be the perfect recipe for harming our young ones. Take for instance, the cases of cyberbullying which have risen unusually in past few months, the recent and ongoing bois-locker-room-incident being a case in point! In this article, I would try to flag three issues: (i) why we need to talk about cyberbullying; (ii) why we cannot talk about cyberbullying and not take mental health into consideration; and (iii) who are the different stakeholders responsible in tackling this situation.

Almost everyone in my social circle reacted to the locker room incident in the same way; they were not surprised and it was this lack of surprise that surprised me! It is absolutely heart-breaking to see the generation of my nephews and nieces suffer from the same problems we did. Multiple opinion pieces and feminist analyse related to this have come up in past few days and thus, I would refrain from repeating the obvious and similar arguments. Notwithstanding that, it would be suffice to say that the incident has shaken everyone from a lulling stupor and rightly so. While this awakening was long due and should have happened years ago, the moment now comes as an opportunity (sadly so) for all the stakeholders involved in dealing with teenagers, the internet and the rampant misogyny and rape culture in our society. In this ever online world, safety of our young girls has got to be everyone’s concern.

Sex education is the need of the hour as we cannot expect children to educate themselves over issues of sexual harassment, consent, rape culture and related mental health issues. Granted, that we have made advancements in past few years through sustained movements and on-ground work by dedicated professionals, however, the fact sadly remains that our core issues are still out there wreaking havoc in the lives of teenagers today. As stakeholders, it is our duty to have conversations around gender, toxic masculinity, rape culture and everything in between with our loved ones. This is because such locker rooms find a muted but close resonance in our family WhatsApp groups where the misogynistic and sexist wife jokes are celebrated. We must take into consideration that we can no longer brush things that make us feel uncomfortable and hesitant under the carpet and expect our kids to learn everything on their own and come up as a new breed altogether.

Besides its societal implications, incidents such as these also tend to propel mental health issues among children which often goes unnoticed. We cannot keep on propagating the myopic narrative of mental health issues being just an individual concern completely untouched by the social inequalities. The experience of feeling objectified and threatened by your own peers and even friends is not unknown to most of the young girls. There has to be a push towards having more and more institutional support measures in place. Mental health is still a taboo topic and when we add to it another taboo topic of sexual harassment, what you have is your typical family uncle squirming in his sofa with discomfort and pretending uncomfortably that all of this is not his business. An intersectional dialogue on mental health, gender and family has been long pending and we need to reach out to our children and talk to them about it and this goes beyond telling boys and girls to just behave!

In a world where misogynistic behaviour continues to be normalised in our online spaces, letting this moment slip from our hands would be an unforgivable mistake. It is high time now that we have a curriculum on gender sensitisation as well as mental health. School counsellors cannot solve this issue anymore as it is not an individual but in fact, a social issue. On the familial front, we have to go beyond burdening just the mother with the responsibility of having such conversations. Fathers and others have to lead by example in making their daughters feel safe and being a good role model for their sons.

In conclusion, the gist of the matter is that one must not lose sight of the fact that our issues are interconnected and we cannot talk about the mental well-being of teenagers and not talk about the sexism, rape culture, bullying, and social media’s multiple facets. A collective intervention is the need of the hour and we must address the individual and the structural together. As the good old feminist statement goes, the personal is indeed, political!

Ayushi Khemka
Mental Health Talks India

Hello, are you responsible #NETIZEN?

Internet being an ocean supports many applications and services including social media, electronic mail, mobile applications, multiplayer online games, Internet telephony, file sharing, and streaming media services. The technology had remarkable impact and transformed our lives in the past decades including children. Our children have access to different electronic gadgets that make them highly susceptible to the cyber threats and insecurities including cyber bullying, cyber grooming, online gaming, e-mail fraud, online transaction fraud among others. Awareness and sensitization is the first step towards personal and social safety and creating a safe cyber space’s for them in the ecosystem.

The dictionary defines #NETIZEN as ‘’an active participant in the online community of the Internet[1]”.  This is rather true, but participation is associated with responsibilities. Learn about it below:

A responsible #NETIZEN is a citizen who:

N: Never share password

E: Ensure to accept request from trusted sources

T: Think before sharing, validate the content is safe and non-abusive

I: Inform your parents/guardian about adversities

Z: Zero down, your previous mistake

E: Enjoy internet, but not at anyone’s cost

N: Never download/ upload any content without authorized consent

Understand that whatever you are told on-line may or may not be true‼

Declaration: This is the original written version of Dr Sanchika Gupta, Consultant – Public Health, New Delhi, India. For any queries, please contact at: [email protected]


Responsible Communication in COVID-19 Times – Dr. Hansika Kapoor

Just before you started reading this blog, you were probably on some social media platform (and yes, Whatsapp counts). In fact, you may have been guided to this blog via social media, which has become the go-to source for information and news in current times. This is truer if you’re younger, with old news media being perceived as boring and perhaps too objective; younger audiences are drawn to opinionated stories that may not necessarily be based in fact. This is a worrying trend, but even more so during times of crisis, such as the ongoing COVD-19 pandemic.

The very essence of information is continuously evolving today. In a post-truth society, there is rapid dissemination of all kinds of communication, with readers like you and me being caught in the cross-hairs trying to decipher what’s true and what’s not. However, there are some who wouldn’t think twice before clicking on forward or share on their social media accounts, almost as an instinctive reaction to receiving the message. Others may skim through or read the information thoroughly before deciding it’s worth sending on numerous group chats, because, hey, what’s the worst that could happen? And for argument’s sake, there may be a last category who go through the trouble of verifying the information online before carefully deciding whether the news is fake or can be shared.

It would be fantastic if everyone were that diligent, but the truth is few of us are. At times like the current pandemic, it would benefit if we were responsive to incoming information, not merely reactive. A reaction is quick and based on your gut; a response is slower and takes more time to formulate. Intuitively, fake news stories prey on the former, eliciting knee-jerk reactions often accompanied by some emotion (like anger, pride, horror). They also tend to align with what we already believe, creating an echo chamber wherein a subjective opinion gets reinforced through external communication. These are the basic ingredients for the fake news forwarding recipe.

Alternatively, if we choose to respond, we can learn to catch ourselves making these systematic errors in thought. Research has shown how we can achieve cognitive immunity to misinformation by, counterintuitively, learning how to engage in it ourselves. The study created a “fake news game” where participants learned six techniques used to produce misinformation: polarisation, invoking emotions, spreading conspiracy theories, trolling people online, deflecting blame, and impersonating fake accounts. By helping people understand what went into the generation of such news, they were familiarised with how to spot such news in the future.

These are tense times and emotions are running high. Responsible communication is crucial, now more than ever, given that social media is serving multiple roles in our physically distant lives. We will continue to use these platforms to seek information and news and we may not be able to control everything we come across. However, we can control how to respond (not react) to such information, taking the time to process and verify it.


Europol (2020). https://www.europol.europa.eu/covid-19/covid-19-fake-news
Marchi, R. (2012). With Facebook, blogs, and fake news, teens reject journalistic “objectivity.” Journal of Communication Inquiry, 36(3), 246–262. doi:10.1177/0196859912458700
Roozenbeek, J., van der Linden, S. (2019). Fake news game confers psychological resistance against online misinformation. Palgrave Communications, 5(65). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41599-019-0279-9
Suciu, P. (April 8, 2020). During COVID-19 pandemic it isn’t just fake news but seriously bad misinformation that is spreading on social media. Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/petersuciu/2020/04/08/during-covid-19-pandemic-it-isnt-just-fake-news-but-seriously-bad-misinformation-that-is-spreading-on-social-media/#7c1f43057e55

Being and Promoting Media Literacy in Modern Times

We encourage the youth to be participative, take on significant roles in the areas of leadership and governance, be responsible citizens and contribute towards society. None of these functions are a possibility unless we guide and coach people, particularly the youth to be able to understand and use media which is a significant contributor towards how they perceive, think and feel about and respond to situations. There is an immense need for us to build a community that values and supports being media literate, developing the skills within the to be able to analyse and evaluate the information they receive.

The amount of media messages we consume on a daily basis is voluminous and it can get overwhelming for many to be continually exposed to a plethora of messages. Besides being overwhelmed this runs the potential vice of substantially influencing and shaping the views that are held by people. Additionally, it can also lead to the development of misconceptions and misunderstandings, fuelling thought processes that can be negative and detrimental not just to the individual but also to society at large. A bigger problem too can emerge when these same mechanisms are misutilized to propagate negativity, hatred, fuel anger, resentment and sway the emotions of young people.

To counteract the potential pitfalls that the advances in the realm of communication and technology have afforded us, we need to begin by encouraging the youth to ask the right questions. This then also begs the question ‘What are the right questions?’ When you are looking to equip yourself or someone you know with the right tools to be able to infer the intentionality of the media you are consuming start by asking the following:

  • Who created this message?
  • What is the intent behind the creation of this message?
  • Is this message from a reputed and credible source?
  • What assumptions underlie the media message which are reflective of their creators’ thought process?
  • Can this message be interpreted differently?
  • Is someone benefitting from the creation and distribution of this message?
  • Do the gains that can be accrued on account of the message influence the way it is constructed?
  • Has this message been manipulated through technological means to enhance its attractiveness?

Encouraging and engaging the youth to ask these questions guides them in the direction of building their own reservoir of understanding and the ability to critically think and evaluate the purposes and intent of the message. Being aware is to be empowered and to gain this knowledge is likely to shape the manner in which an individual responds on the basis of the information and messaging they receive.

  1. Being critical thinkers – A skill that is vastly necessary and valuable in today’s times, the ability to think critically needs to be nurtured specifically with regards to media. Pushing youth to be media literate encourages them to ask the right questions, find answers, letting go of stereotypes and redundant belief systems, all of which are crucial to their success.
  2. Becoming informed consumers – A large part of life is lived by many in a fairly mindless way. choices are made without necessarily thinking about how these are being shaped by mechanisms from within our environment, especially the media that is consumed. Being media literate supports becoming an informed consumer by understanding the intent behind media messages as well as who would benefit from them.
  3. Understanding multiple perspectives – Promoting and enhancing a young individual’s media literacy encourages them to be able to step back and even away from the received and believed notions. This allows them to be able to determine more possibilities and other perspectives to view the media that they are consuming.


  1. Understanding of the need to take responsibility – Responsibility and ownership are of great value in the context of societal living. Media literacy enable individuals to recognise the import of what they say, how they say it and the impact it can have. This can be a boost for them to recognise the need to maintain mindfulness about how they create and share content.
  2. Remembering the immense role of media – Most importantly, media literacy is what allows individuals to recognize the sheer number of media messages they receive as well as the various direct and indirect ways in which they receive these. It makes them more aware and sensitized towards how things work which is the first step towards also being able to determine how things can be changed to make them work better.

In conclusion it is of vast importance to inculcate and harness the skills, ethical judgment and sense of responsibility in youth which enable them to know, understand, analyse, create, collaborate, reflect and take action with respect to how they engage with various media and the messages they receive.

The Menace of Cyberbullying & Its Effects on the Mental Health of Adolescents

Tina came home, walked straight to her room and closed the door. She buried her head in her hands and soon after, the tears began to flow. She reclined in her bed and was soon howling when her mother rushed in, worried about what had happened to her usually cheerful 14-year-old daughter. Tina was crying so hard, she could barely get the words out.
“I had my period today”
Her mother was puzzled. “So?” she asked.
“My skirt was stained and a boy pointed it out to me and then everyone started pointing and laughing,” continued Tina, in between furious sobs.
Her mother smiled. “Sweetie, no one will even remember tomorrow, and who cares about what the others say?” she reassured her.

Tina nodded, though she wasn’t entirely convinced. She then changed and plonked onto her bed in her comfy pyjamas. She logged on to Instagram on her phone and saw that she had many notifications, far more than she even had on her birthday. And then to her horror, Tina saw that her newsfeed was flooded with memes and jokes about periods. Her nightmare of a day had become a virtual reality.

In the age of smartphones and tablets, instagram, twitter, whatsapp, etc. this is but a common example of cyberbullying.

Cyberbullying is defined as the harassment of an individual via a digital device like a smartphone, tablet, laptop, etc. It occurs over various channels such as social media, chat rooms, gaming platforms, etc.

Cyberbullying has existed since online communication became a normal part of our lives. But it is only in the past 15 years or so that it has truly risen as a very real threat for some of the most vulnerable members of our society, adolescents. This situation is particularly bad in India.

According to a 2018 study of 28 countries conducted by Ipson, India has the highest rate of parents confirming instances of cyberbullying, at 37%. More recently, a study by Child Rights and You (CRY), that was published in March of this year, reported that 1 in every 10 Indian adolescents are victims of cyberbullying.

So what is it that a cyberbully wants? What makes them thrive apart from easier access to technology and the Internet? According to our Experts at YourDOST , the Internet provides a person with anonymity which almost incentivises them by providing them with an added layer of security so that they’re protected from being confronted for expressing their unpopular opinions. They also mention that similar to Kleptomaniacs who steal just for the thrill of it, and enjoy the consequent rush, a lot of online trolls resort to cyberbullying for the thrill of doing it and getting away with it.

The most worrying aspect of cyberbullying is the effect it has on the victim’s mental health. It has a tremendously detrimental effect on their self-esteem. It impacts their behaviour as it makes them more fearful of judgement, and consequently they become more self-conscious about everything from what they say to what they do, and even their body language.

Studies have documented the significant effects that cyberbullying has on a victim’s mental health such as increased risk of depression, anxiety and externalized negative behaviours, as well as an increased risk of suicide. Of these, the links between cyberbullying and depression are the most studied. Not only does cyberbullying increase depression, but depressed children also seem to be bigger targets of cyberbullying. However, what is most disturbing is that most victims suffer in silence because they fear that telling on the perpetrators will get their Internet time taken away. This is confirmed by the CRY study alluded to earlier which found that of all the adolescents who are victims of cyberbullying, only 50% actually report being bullied. Another major reason for this is that most victims aren’t even aware that they are being bullied.

To fight the menace of cyberbullying in an effective manner, the next steps need to be to spread awareness among parents and children about what cyberbullying is and what are the means available to help a victim in cases of cyberbullying. When a case of cyberbullying is reported, it is important the victim is encouraged to seek therapy. 2 kinds of Psychotherapies are particularly effective in helping a victim of cyberbullying recover from its effects:

  • Assertiveness training: Victims of cyberbullying often need help in building their confidence to stand up to their bullies. This type of therapy trains them in the techniques to do so.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): Many victims of cyberbullying tend to develop certain safety behaviors in order to deal with resulting depression or anxiety. CBT helps them overcome these as it is effective in retraining the victim so that they may be able to change their behaviours or thoughts for a positive change in their daily life.

YourDOST’s Experts are available 24×7 to provide therapy and emotional support to victims of cyberbullying. If your child has been a victim, refer them to a YourDOST Expert today.

Centre for Social Research: Programmatic Response to COVID-19

To CSR’s Partners and Friends:

Almost five months into the spread of the COVID-19 across the world, it is clear the impact of this pandemic will have a long-term effect on society as a whole, how the Centre for Social Research operates as an organization, and the needs of our target groups.

CSR is taking this change seriously, and we have been reviewing and modifying our programs to reflect both the realities of the lockdown and the needs of the communities we serve.

Since the start of the lockdown in India, CSR has shifted the delivery of its training programs online, is partnering with service organizations that provide direct aid to struggling families, and is preparing for the long-term implications of this crisis for women in India.

I want to share an overview of how CSR is responding to this crisis and how we are moving forward with our program in the near-term.   As a valued partner, I invite you to connect with us regarding programs in which you would like to partner and extend support for this work.   We need your support now more than ever, as do the communities we serve.

  1. Humanitarian Support

With the restrictions of the Indian lockdown to stop COVID-19, we’re witnessing in the country a lack of awareness, panic-buying, lack of food amenities and health-care facilities for the labour class, migrant workers, community dwellers, daily-wage earners, and community members who live in remote areas. The community members from these areas have faced multiple crisis’ amidst the lethal wave of the virus.

To fill this immediate need, CSR is working with local partners to support food distribution and services to underserved communities in Delhi and target groups within our existing programmatic areas.

Food distribution has taken place in the following areas:

  • Katwaria Sarai
  • Mahipalpur
  • Rangpuri
  • Harijan Basti
  • Sangam Vihar
  • Gurgugram – in collaboration with Mera Parivaar
  • Zomato’s Feeding India Initiative

Health supplies are identified as a pressing need in:

  • Sanganer, Rajasthan – Partners from our water conservation project informed us about the lack of medical kits and supplies in their area. We are currently in discussion with GVNML to partner with us to supply health kits which include sanitizers and masks. We are currently seeking partners to fund this direct aid activity.

Outreach to Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (BBBP) districts of Haryana:

  • Our team is reaching out to the five gender critical districts of Haryana where our project is being implemented through online messaging, Whatsapp communication, and direct telephonic conversation. NGOs are posting their unique efforts from all the districts particularly from Jhajjar & Gurugram.  Our team members are encouraging them and guiding them in maintaining social distancing while conducting community level activities such as cooked food distribution, hygienic kit distribution, blood donation, etc.

The CSR team has been actively engaged in supporting local efforts ranging from contributing to the RWAs, Gurudwaras, donations to the various organizations and continuing our food distribution in various areas well.

We are open to partnerships to reach communities in need and hope you will contact us with ways we can engage in direct support for communities.

  1. COVID-19 WASH Training

Through our water conservation project in Rajasthan, our partners and women trainees have identified the need for awareness generation on COVID-19 and understanding of proper hygiene and prevention practices.  Within the communities in Sanganer, we are working with multiple groups of women trainees who have access to smart phones to provide basic COVID-19-focused hygiene training for women who can extend information and training to the rest of the community.

This training includes:

  • Basics of how COVID-19 spreads
  • How to properly sanitize hands and other household equipment
  • Importance of wearing masks and how to make one at home
  • COVID-19 response in context of local water conservation requirements
  • How to discuss and raise awareness within communities

CSR has been training on issues of water management and hygiene extensively and is open to replicating this training with partners that are working in these areas in other communities and states.

  1. Support for Survivors of Domestic Violence

Now more than ever, with social isolation, the number of domestic violence and child abuse cases is seeing a continuous spike all over the world.  The Secretary-General of the UN, António Guterres, called for a “ceasefire” to address the “horrifying global surge in domestic violence” that is affecting women around the globe during this time of social distancing and sheltering-in-place.

In India, The Hindu reported that the government helpline received 92,000 calls on violence and child abuse in 11 days.  With fear and anxiety spreading in the country, frustrations are growing and even in the time of pandemic, women and children are the victim of additional abuse in homes that are, and should be, safe for everyone.

CSR is working to respond to this surge of violence through our core counseling and domestic violence services.

  • Tele-Counseling Services: CSR is making our crisis counseling available by telephone for anyone suffering abuse at home during this crisis:

If you or anyone you know is experiencing domestic

violence or harassment at home, please contact our

Crisis Intervention Counselors at:

Kamlesh Premji: +91 9810999398

Rakhi Sharma: +91 9213732208

CSR Crisis Intervention Centre (CIC) counselors are available on phone to provide help to anyone facing abuse at home.  They have also organised online mobilisations to publicize the access numbers across communities and groups that work with domestic violence.

Though there is a restriction of traveling and women cannot be redirected to our CICs due to health precautions and government mandate, our counselors are currently handling cases and have been providing regular counseling through the telephone.

Please share the message above among your community communication channels so women can access the resources they need.
Additional Support Needed:
While are counselors are handling cases as they come in, there is much greater need of tele-services and links with resources to support victims of abuse during this time.  CSR seeks support to create a 24-7 online domestic violence support centre, providing:

  • Legal resources and access to psychological services
  • Added counseling support for online and digital abuses
  • Expanding online resources and training on Sexual Harassment and its application in modified work environments
  • Access numbers available to women at essential service points of access within their communities including: chemists, dairy shops, and food shops.

CSR is actively supporting the efforts made by NCW and BPR&D in creating a database of the nature of violence inflicted on women during the COVID-19 lockdown, legal provisions to deal with it, list of NGOs active under present condition and suggestions to improve the situation in dealing with DV/IPV survivors.

At this time, I request that our partners also consider how they can best address this dire need for effective and accessible response to violence at this time.   Please reach out to us with your ideas for collaboration.

  1. Online Communication – for Health and Wellness During the PandemicDuring the lockdown restrictions, CSR is using its robust communication channels to promote dialogue and conversation about staying safe and healthy during the lockdown and identifying the impact that this crisis is having on women.

Our online communication activities include:

  • Tweet Chats and Online Dialogues: CSR has been continuously hosting online discourse and discussions with experts and our followers through Tweetathons about online safety, domestic violence, mental health wellness, and India’s problem of an infodemic of misinformation in times of a global pandemic.
  • Online Content and Resources: We make daily posts through our dedicated  social media handles about our skill based programs, the condition of education for girls, their lack of extra-curriculur participation in fields like sports, the online violation of human rights against women, lack of representation and opportunities in politics, the disparity present between the way natural calamities affect men and women, the role that women play in conservation of resources and changing the narrative about typical ‘male professions’ by providing training to women in the same sectors.
  • Art for Good: While engaging with all our followers online, and with our staff members through video calls, we discussed ways in which can have a positive impact on our mental health. With fear of the virus having swept us like a large wave, people have taken to various forms of recreational activities to alleviate stress and maintain a routine of wellness. To encourage our followers to share their work with us so it can be an inspiration for others, we created Art for Good as a section that will showcase blogs, videos, artwork, graphics. Through Art for Good, we want to spread positivity and encourage creativity in all forms.  The principal motives of our projects, as well as our values and beliefs, will be highlighted through this initiative through different images, videos, gifs and other multimedia sources.  https://www.csrindia.org/art-for-good/
  1. Online Safety and Security Training


During this lockdown, more and more children and parents are coming online to lead their routine daily lives. Now, education, business and pleasure are intrinsically linked with our online presence and communication. The Internet has become a major platform for gathering and spreading information during these restricted times.

Since the lockdown and the advent of COVID-19, there are a range of digital issues that are pressing to address.  The first is the high volume of misinformation about COVID-19 that is circulating across social media platforms.  The critical skill of assessing news sources and understanding the damage that fake news and misinformation can have is more vital than ever.  Secondly, the closure of schools is creating a need for teachers and students to connect in online spaces.

CSR has been working on issues of digital safety for over four years, and is offering a range of resources and online trainings to support students, teachers, and parents navigate online spaces.

  • Online Safety and Security Toolkit – This toolkit is designed to empower all internet users with knowledge of the threats they can face (children and adults), and the various tools that they can use to not fall prey to online abusers, trolls or scammers.
  • We Think Digital: Student Safety Training– CSR is partnering with Facebook’s We Think Digital program and is now providing webinars for school children designed to help keep their online presence safe and responsible. The core objective of We Think Digital is to provide youth training in digital citizenship and provide them the tools they need to stay safe online.  The program will continue this objective by adapting the student training program to an online platform and developing engaging content for our social media channels.   These trainings are available on a weekly basis and will be advertized on our social media platforms.  We also to offer custom trainings for schools and educational platforms and can schedule a private session for your students.
  • Teachers and Parents Online Safety Trainings – CSR is also working with Facebook and its government partners to develop and host online digital safety workshops for teachers and parents, so that they are better able to manage the online environment and keep their children safe and informed as we all rely on online platforms to keep us connected, productive, and informed.


You can access our training and digital resources at the following links:



  1. Online Skill Training for Employment

Since 2018, the Centre for Social Research has been offering skill training to support women’s employment and economic empowerment in partnership with the German Embassy and Honda2wheelers India.  When the pandemic struck, we were mobilizing students for our third batch of Office Assistant trainings, certified by the MEPSC.

We have launched this program as an online course and are currently hosting a batch of 18 students to pursue this comprehensive 45-day course in professional communication, organization, time management, and digital skills.


As we move forward, we anticipate that we will be developing and offering more of our skill training content for employment and entrepreneurship through an online platform.   We will be connecting with our partners in this space about our plans and encourage other interested collaboration on skill training to contact us.


My Request to You


These are the immediate adaptations that CSR has made to address the impact of the pandemic in the short term.  We are also continuing with our long-term planning for our work on climate change, skill development, gender training etc. and are reviewing how pandemic response and education can be integrated into our agenda.  We are also reviewing how the needs of women will evolve as a result of this pandemic and how our programs can adapt appropriately.  I will be communicating more about our plans as they evolve and request you as a partner to reach out to us with your needs and ideas so that we can jointly plan and develop our collective response.

Best Regards,

Dr. Ranjana Kumari


Improving Urban Safety for Women

We organised a National Conference on “Safety for She: Building Equitable Urban Spaces” in partnership with the Asia Foundation, Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and Saftipin in November this year.

The conference was the culmination of the project on improving urban safety of women with our partners and saw the presence of who’s who from the industry involved in building safer urban spaces, from the likes of Smart City leaders of KPMG to the social media jounalists.

The conference was inaugurated by H.E. Shin Bongkil (Korean Ambassador), Dr. Ranjana Kumari (Director, Centre for Social Research), Ms. Nandita Baruah (Country Representative, The Asia Foundation), Dr. Kalpana Vishwanath (CEO and Founder, SafetiPin.)

The conference was also graced by Shri Kailash Gahlot, Transport & Environment Minister of Delhi, who shared about the initiatives of Delhi Govt. towards urban safety of women.

Centre for Social Research led the panel discussion on Police Capacity building and Systemic Challenges to Policing. We also steered passionate discussion on women’s right to access public spaces. Each panel discussion and presentation was followed by a passionate question and answer session with the audience.

At the National Conference
“People feel threatened when women access public spaces. Are smart cities really smart without women’s safety? The change in mindset is necessary as we need to be ready and willing to except women in the public spaces.”
Ms. Nandita Baruah, Country Representative, The Asia Foundation.

Dr. Ranjana Kumari (CSR) | Mr. Brijesh Singh, IG Cyber( Mah) | Mr. Murty NSN, Leader – Smart Cities (PwC) | Ms. Nilanjana Bhowmick, Journalist & Researcher | Mr. C. Ravindra, Dir. NIDEM | Ms. Shampa Tikait, Public Prosecutor – CBI

“The planning of smart cities was not done with “gender” in mind. Hence, India has a “gender blind infrastructure.”
Ms. Nilanjana Bhowmick (Journalist & Researcher)

“While challenging patriarchy we must challenge the restrictions put on women to safeguard them.”
Ms. Anika Verma (Breakthrough)

“The structure of the city needs to be changed; the cities at present are not organized keeping the vulnerable section (elderly, children, and women) of the society in mind. Then policy orientned discourses for women, effective use of technology, engagement of the police to ensure safety will enable the bigger coalition to being changes.”
Dr. Ranjan Kumari, Director, Centre for Social Research.


The Centre for Social Research thanks its partners for supporting our work for women’s empowerment and ending discrimination.  None of our achievements this year would be possible without this commitment.  We’ve covered these activities throughout the annual report, but we’d like to take a special moment here to say thank you and to highlight these important partnerships

Dutch Embassy Delhi Through a major two-year grant, the embassy is supporting CSR’s fight again Pre-Natal Sex-Selection in Haryana in conjunction with the government’s Beti Bachao Beti Padhao program.
The Asia Foundation TAF is a longtime partner and this year supported CSR on two important initiatives:  our Safe Cities project to improve women’s safety in Bhopal, Gwalior, and Jodhpur.
German Embassy, New Delhi The German Embassy supported CSR in the launch of its office assistant training program, which trained 65 women and linked them with job opportunities.
RITES RITES has joined the Centre for Social Research this year in support our water conservation program in Sanganer, Rajasthan, which builds women’s leadership capacity along with local water conservation infrastructure.
Honda Motorcycle & Scooter Pvt. Ltd Honda, our most recent new partner, has helped us launch our training for women security guards and advance our commitment to women’s economic empowerment.  Honda also supports our work on women’s leadership in water conservation in Alwar, Rajasthan.
The Commonwealth Foundation The Commonwealth Foundation is supporting an important three-year project to advance women’s political leadership and participation.
Hanns Seidel Foundation This year, HSS and CSR advanced a long-term partnership on women’s leadership for Water Conservation and Climate Change  in Rural Rajasthan
Australian High Commission The Australian High Commission joined CSR to launch its sports for girls program in Haryana, which has enrolled nearly 300 girls in sports activities.
Facebook Our three-year partnership with Facebook has taught over 23,000 college students directly about safe online practices.   CSR is a pilot partner for Facebook’s We Think Digital training program in India.
Twitter Twitter and CSR continue to engage in dialogue on issues of online safety for women.