Published: 06th July 2020
Started by Ashoka Uni students, BTS helps spread financial and mental awareness among office boys
Behind The Scenes, or BTS as it is known, was started by three passionate students from Ashoka University who are dedicated to spreading awareness among office boys and others about three main topics
Financial literacy, health, both physical and mental, and substance addiction — being knowledgeable about these aspects is paramount to leading a decent life. But what about those who don’t have access to them? Don't they deserve a shot at leading a decent life too? To ensure this, Behind The Scenes (BTS) started very small, at a corporate office in Gurugram.
Punyasloka Panda, one of the founders of BTS, started teaching all the three aforementioned aspects to a group of four to five office boys while he was working there. "The modules, which we developed on our own, were used to teach the office boys so that they are able to grow personally and their soft skills improve as well," explains Vanshika Mittal who along with Punyasloka and Vanshika Shah started BTS last year. While Vanishka Mittal is based out of Katni in Madhya Pradesh, Vanshika Shah is based out of Nepal and Punyasloka is from Odisha. The trio has been conducting workshops on their own.
Vanshika Mittal, Vanshika Shah and Punyasloka Panda | (Pic: BTS)
Take it to those in need
Coming to the modules themselves, the trio started developing them in August 2019. "These modules were self-explanatory and perhaps may seem like common knowledge to you and me, but for lower-income groups, who we have developed this model for, it is necessary information," explains the 19-year-old. One of the key achievements of the modules is that none of them are taught in isolation, they are all interconnected. This is because the team, all three of whom have studied at Ashoka University, soon realised that mostly, people from lower-income groups look at everything from a financial perspective. "So we had to explain to them that if you don't take care of your health today, tomorrow you might not be able to do your job well hence, you might lose it," explains Vanshika. The draft was ready in seven to ten days. "Feedback plays a pivotal role as the modules come with feedback forms that the users are required to fill and send back. Some of this feedback we have incorporated as well," she explains.
Then they reasoned, why keep this module to just themselves. They started the #HelpYourHelpers campaign, via which they share the module with anyone who reaches out to them and encourage them to conduct these sessions in their own areas, or with their own domestic help. Over 28 people have reached out to them across India for the modules. The plan is to develop a YouTube channel and convert all the models into self-explanatory videos so that those who really need the modules don't need to wait for someone to deliver it.
Women with the pads they made | (Pic: BTS)
The modules come with a BTS kit that has a hisaab kitaab (accounts) book, cloth pads, flashcards on menstrual and mental health and so on. The module itself comes with a glossary that helps those who deliver it. "The modules are also full of activities, relatable examples and so much more to ensure that it doesn't all just become one boring session," says Vanshika. Expect examples like comparing bottling up feelings to a pressure cooker which, if the steam builds, starts to whistle. It is these easy, real-life examples that click with them.
Additionally, what Vanshika Shah is doing back in Nepal is engaging five to six women who have lost their job to the pandemic to make cloth pads so that the women don't have to depend on anyone for their basic needs and additionally, they can sell them and fetch a livelihood for themselves. One pad fetches them Rs 10 plus shipping charges and they have partnered with NGOs who work on period poverty and menstrual awareness, like Kamakhya, to distribute them. "No equipment is used, we deliver the raw material and it takes as much labour as it takes to cook a simple meal, so it's not too much," explains Vanshika Mittal. They even provide a menstrual health module with it. This initiative of BTS is called Copal and already, they have had over 1,200 orders. They have even engaged five to six women in Gujarat to make these cloth pads.
For more on them, check out instagram.com/__behind__the__scenes__