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The Search is on for a Leader of the Masses

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Praveen Kumar:

The Aam Aadmi, the common man is someone whose desires, ambitions, demands are “Aam” i.e. common. And the Aam Aadmi seeks a leader who is concerned about the Aam janata (common people). It is seen that political leaders profess themselves as leaders of the common man. But unfortunately the so called common man’s leaders are very commonly, not keen in addressing their problems.

Aam Aadmi asks for a leader who can understand the problems of the oppressed. But it happens that the very reason for the oppressed to be so is the leaders themselves. The demands of a common man are very limited, specific, achievable, realistic, Aam ‘common’ in nature, but still the leaders do not put efforts to fulfil those demands. The leaders in the present scenario have been labelled as the “leaders who never reached the Common Man”. This situation spurts a question -what is the definition of a true Aam Aadmi Leader?

It is seen that the Aam Aadmi leader is not necessarily an Aam Aadmi himself. The leader for the common man is not commonly a common man. Leaders hailing from royal families step in to the small huts and share the water for once to show that they are one of those jhopari nivasi. But unfortunately the illiterate aam Aadmi is unaware of the entire plan behind that.

He only knows that once in every five years, he will get a new 100 rupee note or a packet of liquor asking him to stamp the swastika sign on a symbol. At most he can only understand the abbreviation of the party he has been asked to vote for, not to forget he cannot read any alphabets. Those names on the election sheet are Greek and Latin to him. What he knows is only the sign.

History tells us that the greatest Common Man’s leader was Smt Indira Gandhi. She was so strong, clear and confident in her values and beliefs, that most of the work she did has helped the poor. And even till today, after almost 25 years since her death, she still lives in the hearts of millions of people.

But, that was past. After her reign concluded, we have hardly come across any leader who could match her charisma. We now see that the present leaders are working only for khaas aadmi though they claim otherwise.

Things in India are changing, but the most important thing i.e. politics in India is the same or going worse, instead of getting better. People who are concerned about the future of the country are often afraid that the large slurry of political leaders might dirt the new ones also.

So, who would be the perfect Leader for the Common man? What does the common man himself ask for? Various surveys say that a common man looks for a leader who can provide the basic needs of the people. But it is also true that most of the voters from the rural India while voting, consider a leader only if that leader promises more free of cost goods.

The apt common man’s leader has to be genuinely concerned about the oppressed and poor. We might not be able to exactly define the Aam Aadmi Leader, but we can definitely declare that a genuine leader is always one who works for the welfare the Aam Aadmi. The day is yet to come where we could see a leader emerging from the dregs of the society and does miraculously well; the Ajooba is yet to come for the Aam Aadmi who will set an example of an Ideal common man’s leader.

The writer is a correspondent at Youth Ki Awaaz and also an MBA student at IIFT.

image:http://www.flickr.com/photos/judepics/ / CC BY 2.0

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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
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