A Harbinger of Positive Change: The Ikshā Foundation
Nandika is a passionate young entrepreneur and philanthropist. She founded The Ikshā Foundation during the pandemic, aiming to facilitate positive societal change. Despite challenges, Nandika has successfully managed to bring Ikshā to the forefront of valuable change in society
Nandika, an aspiring economics major student, is currently in her second year of the undergraduate programme at Ashoka University. The brilliant young entrepreneur and philanthropist believes that the world needs change and trusts that the youth should be the instruments of change. Nandika’s enthusiasm and creativity have moulded The Ikshā Foundation from its roots. Needless to say, among the innumerable accounts of talented students pursuing ventures on campus, Nandika’s inclination towards facilitating societal change found its roots during the pandemic. Ikshā Foundation’s main objective is to help transform the deteriorating lives of people due to various issues posed by the ever-changing patterns of time.
Tracing her path to the pandemic, Nandika started with a group of friends trying to make an impact. Initially, it started as a shared inspiration among three 15-year-olds working on societal change. Eventually, as time proceeded, they also decided to involve more youth to participate in their cause. Ikshā Foundation’s objective is to support underprivileged students to receive a quality education and to do so, the teenage founders came up with an innovative idea to provide for these students while saving the environment. At the core of the Ikshā Foundation, lies the aim of creating a sustainable circular economy. This circular economy works around protecting the environment and preventing climate change while also providing quality education and producing young green thinkers in the process. Today, the goal is to expand their project across India. They have already started working towards this. Their project also collects primary data from each school. It involves the problems they face, the basic requirements they need and so on. Through an evaluation of this data, they have also understood that the need to achieve quality education is different in each state. Hence, their goal is simple: To bridge this gap while being subjective of the needs and requirements.
‘Changing the world one petal at a time’. Ikshā has undertaken several initiatives and programs to achieve its goals. Initially, during the imposition of the COVID-19 lockdown, they conducted Project Dhanika during the Covid-19 lockdowns. The foundation provided reusable, recyclable and biodegradable sanitary napkins patented by one of their talented founders. The Ikshā Foundation’s ‘CTRL+S (save)’ initiative aims at providing the opportunity for quality education to underprivileged students across India through a sustainable recycling process of scrap paper. Till today, members have successfully collected approximately 22,000kgs of scrap paper and converted them into notebooks and stationery. This project has helped the foundation achieve a reduction worth 1,958 cubic feet of landfills and saved 375 trees in the laborious process. At Ikshā Foundation, the founders believe that ‘the youth of the world can be harbingers of positive change in society’.
Throughout this process, Nandika and her dedicated team provided 8,219 underprivileged students with stationary materials from across India and conducted awareness sessions to prevent climate change through sustainable practices. However, this journey of targeting the social issue, and actively working on it through sustainable and communally beneficial ways was not a linear process. Nandika was persistently challenged with obstacles that showed immense potential to hinder their foundation’s phenomenal work. An initial, and consistently faced challenge by Nandika is that the Ikshā Foundation and its work were not taken very seriously. Considering the foundation to be led by students, there was an apprehension to consider the foundation to be legitimate. Additionally, the idea had just taken off, and so it was necessary to gain the trust and support of the surrounding community. Despite overcoming a series of unanticipated obstacles and challenging encounters, Nandika and her team have successfully managed to bring Ikshā the recognition it deserves. The Ikshā Foundation has been featured in The Hindu, The Times of India and Your Big Year ( an international magazine ). They have also been nominated as finalists at the Global Teen Leader Awards and the World Sustainability Award ‘23, Amsterdam. The foundation has also received recognition from Decathlon India and various schools in Bangalore acknowledging our efforts to create change.
Ikshā Foundation is more than just a herald of positive change in society. It is an irreplaceable part of Nandika’s personal and professional life. To date, she pleasantly reminisces over the first time they conducted a distribution at a government school. A few volunteers had to back out at the last moment. So, Nandika headed to the school by herself. The sheer happiness that was shown on their faces while receiving a notebook is a moment that will be etched in her memory. It made her cognisant about the privilege she had growing up. The privilege she had to receive fresh stationary every year while she still had last year’s geometry box. Thus, through her active involvement with the students during their drives, Nandika learned to develop a deeper understanding of completely different spheres of life which made her value her privilege. She genuinely believes that her project has the scope to be developed on a larger scale creating a larger impact. Founding the Iksha Foundation has been a life-changing experience for her. Not only did she find compassion for helping others through projects, but also cultivated humility in the process of being a change-maker. Despite the challenges posed in Nandika’s path, Ikshā has proven to bring about positive change in society. The volunteers play an integral role in the smooth functioning of the foundation and work tirelessly to meet the foundation’s goals. While Nandika continues to pursue her degree here at Ashoka University, her contribution towards Ikshā remains uncompromised.
(Written by Ahana Walanju, a Political Science major from the undergraduate batch of 2025 at Ashoka University)