‘Free speech warrior’ Gurmehar Kaur among Time’s top 10 Next Gen leaders
Gurmehar is ranked second on the magazine’s list of young men and women “making a difference in the world”.india Updated: Oct 13, 2017 22:16 IST
US-based magazine Time has selected student and peace activist Gurmehar Kaur as one of its 10 ‘Next Generation Leaders’ for 2017, hailing her as a “free-speech warrior”. Also on the list is Punjabi-Canadian YouTube star Lilly Singh, who uses the moniker ‘Superwoman’.
Gurmehar, the 20-year-old from Jalandhar who is studying English literature at Lady Shri Ram College in Delhi, had shot to national fame when she was trolled online for speaking up against violence allegedly by members of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), student affiliate of ruling BJP, at Delhi University’s Ramjas College in February this year.
Daughter of an army officer who was shot dead in an encounter with militants in the Valley when she was two years old, she was also slammed for appearing in a placard video saying that it was war, not Pakistan, that killed her father.
After she condemned the ABVP, she was threatened with rape and murder by internet goons to the extent that she had to leave Delhi for a while.
Time writes, “But still she refuses to be silenced, and has a memoir, Small Acts of Freedom, that is due to be published next year.” HT had honoured Gurmehar as one of its ‘Top 30 under 30’ stars this year.
The October 12 issue of Time profiles “10 young men and women making a difference in the world” .
As for Lilly, Time notes that “her sketch-comedy videos — tackling everything from relationships to racism — have logged more than two billion views and lured guests like (former US President) Michelle Obama and (actor) James Franco.”
Growing up as the daughter of Punjabi immigrants, Lilly said, “it was definitely embedded into my upbringing, like, ‘Indian girls shouldn’t do this’ or ‘Girls shouldn’t do that.’ If I can have an impact, it seems like a waste not to use it to have some kind of positive influence on the planet.”
Gurmehar told HT on Friday, “When I saw the list and my name among people that I have grown up admiring, someone like Lilly Singh, I was ecstatic.” “I had to listen to so much about me and my family for talking about simple things like peace and forgiveness, and for standing up against violence on campuses. The world is so full of hate; everywhere, hating the ‘other’ is being used as a political tool. I tell my friends we are living in a ‘hate epidemic’. I am proud of myself for standing up against this kind of negativity,” she added.