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Building Youth Centric Knowledge

About youth, for youth, by youth

The Kanaja Youth Research Centre:

  • foregrounds the experiences of young people from different backgrounds;
  • builds knowledge based on these experiences, relating to a wide range of themes;
  • invites young people to participate in this process of knowledge building.

Young people in India have largely been objects of research in various fields (sociology, development studies, psychology).  A common description of them is as a “demographic dividend” that the country has to ‘reap’ or ‘harvest’ in some way to ensure progress and economic growth. 

The National Statistical Commission’s report on youth in india says, ‘Youth is a huge reservoir of energy which needs to be tapped and harnessed intelligently for the development of society.’ While young people are eager to contribute to the world they live in, few of them want to be ‘tapped’ or ‘harnessed’! Would you?


Reducing the youth of India to a resource for economic growth is heartbreaking and dehumanising! These are people who deserve to be seen for who they are: individuals transitioning to adulthood, filled with the potential to create an incredible future.

However, they are witnessing and living through a time of social, cultural, economic and political upheaval and transformation. The country has moved from manufacturing to a service industry and now we have the rise of the ‘gig economy’. Youth are being mobilised in large numbers to serve polarised political ends; sections of them are also choosing their own political agendas. 

While we are supposedly living the ‘modern’ life, social norms regarding marriage, cross-community relationships, education and career have not changed. We are witnessing more violence for transgressions. Not to mention the new forms of media and technology that have shaped the lives of young people in diverse ways.

Responding meaningfully to the challenges that young people face today demands deeper insights into the changing landscape and an understanding of their fears and doubts, their realities and dreams.

Between 2017 and 2019 the centre has funded and guided the following youth-focused and youth-led research projects:

1. Young Dalit Women’s Negotiations of Marriage, Education and Career

  • Completed
  • Research Team: Ramakk R, Manjula Telagade, Vijayshanthi Murthy

2. Young Women Journalists’ Experience of the Kannada Media Workplace

  • Completed
  • Research Team: Manjunath M, Shalini Ravi, Kiran Kumari, Murali Mohan Kati, Vijayshanthi Murthy

3. Youth, Love and Social Media

  • Completed
  • Youth-led Study
  • Research Team: Rashmi, Goutami, Shivaraj, Manjunath

4. Youth and Marriage Across Social Boundaries

  • Completed
  • Youth-led Study
  • Research Team: Pavithra R, Siddesha K, Thripthi Perlap, Umme Zaiba, Akash K, Vijaya Kumar

5. From Working With Youth to Youth Work

  • Completed
  • Research Team: Anita Ratnam, Janardhan Kesaragadde, Poornima Kumar

Some of our previously conducted research:

An Inquiry into the Incidence and Impacts of Child Sexual Abuse on Young People

This was the first study delving into the issue of Child Sexual Abuse in India.
  • 1994
  • Research Team: Anita Ratnam with Dr Shekar Seshadri

The Implications of Illegal and Unethical Practices of Pawnbrokers on Marginalised Communities

  • 1996
  • Research Team: Students and Staff of Samvada Youth Resource Centre in Bangalore

Floriculture: Roses or Thorns? Land Sales around Bangalore and consequences for youth from farming households

  • 1998
  • Research Team: Students and Staff of Samvada Doddaballapur Youth Resource Centre

Young People from Crafts Communities at the Crossroads: A series of Monographs

  • 2005

The Need and Scope for Counselling Services for Young Women

This study was commissioned by Samvada to explore the need for a feminist counselling course.
  • 2009

Traditional Occupations in a Modern World: Career Guidance, Livelihood Planning, and Crafts in the Context of Globalization

  • 2010

Youth in Agriculture – Problems and Prospects

  • 2014
  • Conducted by the Centre of Youth and Sustainable Development.

Young people’s perceptions of Career Guidance in Karnataka

  • Ongoing
  • Conducted by the Centre for Transformative Education

Support Our Research

Help us strengthen the idea of knowledge building from the grassroots!
We are looking for funding to continue our research and
establish Kanaja as the first of its kind in India. ​

In the coming years, we hope to build Kanaja into a fully fledged and fully funded independent body within Samvada. With your help, we can encourage youth-led research, intervene meaningfully in the field of youth studies, and develop research methods that are ethical, participatory and rooted in the goal of social justice.