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Mirror, Mirror on the wall, Who has the most tweets of them all?

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Anahita Thukral:

Priyanka Chopra is down with flu, Gul Panag is leaving on a trip to Masai Mara, Karan Johar is looking for a title for adaptation of “stepmom”, Dino Morea had a KFC burger this weekend, Pritish Nandy is in Delhi today and Preity Zinta is currently reading ‘The Power of Positive Thinking’ by Norman Vincent Peale.

The social networking phenomenon has taken us by storm. Within less than a decade our world has come to be defined by tweets, status updates or scraps. Why should our celebs be left behind? Gone are the days when fans stalked celebs for just a glimpse or an autograph if they were extremely lucky. They still follow their idols but in a more acceptable and less creepy manner. The Indian celebrity brigade has joined micro blogging and that is what these networking sites are mostly about.

In my opinion, twitter is probably the most popular social networking sites for them celebs. It is easy to access, popular and precise. You don’t have to sweat to tweet, just 140 characters to express what it is that you feel. For journalists like Rajdeep Sardesai, twitter is another means with which they can engage with the viewer and share news breaks, while Priyanka Chopra and Sharukh Khan use it as a tool to promote their upcoming movies and to be in touch with their fans. Karan Johar uses it to receive feedback about his movies or a name that he intends to use for his next production. Recently Tiger Woods posted a video of his block party golf clinic, in which he gives advice on how to swing more effectively. Algore, the former vice president of the United States uses it as a platform to propagate new ideas and reforms in governmental as well as environmental policies of the state.

Even Facebook allows you to stay updated on policies and initiatives from French President Nicolas Sarkozy or receive campus updates from Stanford University. You can even root for Lance Armstrong as he trains for his next big race.

Politicians aren’t far behind as Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor, perhaps inspired by Barack Obama’s success on Twitter, has been a regular micro-blogger. Infact he uses it to connect with the youthful, educated middleclass faction, a constituency that he naturally identifies with and those who use such mediums to stand up against a system they have lost faith in.

While Twitter may be the primary resource for many celebrities to blast out updates to their fans, celebrities are turning to Facebook to manage their actual relationships. Twitter-loving celebrities also appear to be turning to Facebook. With the privacy settings provided to users, celebrities also have the opportunity to post updates without worrying about the wall posts ending up in magazines.

Social networking sites are opening up new avenues for the celebs to voice their opinions on critical issues, exercise personal branding or simply express themselves. Gul panag, a regular tweeter says “I feel I am very opinionated and can express myself without any dilution in form on this site. Besides, the bonus being that on twitter one is able to connect with interesting people. Though it’s very difficult to evaluate twitter with respect to other networking sites but I enjoy micro blogging”

However, it isn’t always a welcome change. Technology, especially the internet has always been an eye sore for some. Due to the fact that people can now actually interact with these famous personalities, question them to encourage transparency and keep constant track of their activities, celebs have often landed themselves into trouble.

The hype around celebrities using such sites is inherent. Recently, Tharoor’s tweet on the government’s visa policies generated much fuss among his ministerial colleagues. Congress like most political parties thrives on being an exclusive club of the power elite, with minimal contact with the masses, while twitter is fundamentally based on the principle of having an open and constant conversation between a mix of anonymous and influential people and is designed to bridge social divides. Congress was very miffed by his apparent irresponsible behaviour, but he seemed to have resolved the issue with his sensible demeanour

To think about it, considering the influence which celebrities have on Indian consumers and twitter becoming twilmy, I’m wondering if the next trend will be celebrities endorsing brands on such sites or promoting services amongst their followers. After all when Gul updates all those lovely photographs from her iphone, tweets about booking her international tickets at Cleartrip or Sonam posts about spending her free time with Xbox, aren’t these indirectly working positively for these brands. It would be great if they promote products they actually utilize and put this medium to good use.

You must be to comment.
  1. brij

    I am going to tweet this article 😀

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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