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Is India A Soft State?

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Praveen Kumar:

India, being a secular state has always faced difficulty in maintaining its integrity every now and then. But still, the unity among people and the prevailing brotherhood in the country have kept us intact despite being the most diversified country. We the people of India are basically very generous. We like our friends and we love our enemies. Call it the teachings of Mahatma Ghandi or the modern form of Gandhigiri, compared to other nations, people in our country are not so rebellious (or are they?). Our Government always extends hands of friendship but never fastens its belt to initiate a war.

So far India has been labeled as a soft state. We have failed to protect our national interests on several occasions. Thanks to the petty politics and indecisiveness of our leadership, time and again our security forces have been the victim of apathy of our leadership.

Imagine looking back fearfully each time you enter a temple, looking suspiciously at your fellow passengers while travelling by train. It is this reaction that a terrorist gloats on. To strike fear is the utmost target in his mind. When we succumb to that fear and terror, his goal is achieved. As long as we show compassion for the accused, we will not achieve the goal of ridding our country of terrorism.

That is exactly what our problem is. We don’t need to essentially prove that India is soft in combating terrorism. Anybody who reads newspapers will know that we are. Anybody who flies by Indian airways will know. Anybody who thinks that we gave a free ride to three of the worst criminals to a place called Kandahar in the distinguished company of our foreign minister would know that we are a soft state.

The Indian police have such a distinguished record of being a terror in UP. Our policemen rub chilli powder into the eyes of prisoners. And if they do not sing as our policemen would want them to, they are hung upside down. Sadly, these brutalities are frequently committed in a country which is proud of its human rights awareness and constitutional guarantees.

It is the softness towards terrorists combined with the brutalities against our own citizen which makes us such a weak state.

It’s basically a matter of attitude. Our country’s leaders’ attitude does not reflect a national resolve to pay the price required to fight terrorism. That’s our problem. Be it the Mumbai Attacks, or any other such blows, we have been passive in our approach to fight our enemies. There is no idea why Kasab still seeks freedom even when video footages prove him guilty, and Indian Government has not taken any firm decision to fight this out.

India even after being counted among one of the richest countries in terms of resources, is still not competent in International Trade. The best brains of the country are outsourced by other developed nations, and the nation lacks people who can change things. US, one of the major importers of India’s best brains’ is the best economy because those Indians who are instrumental in the multinationals in US are involved. And the irony of fate; India’s economy is governed by the whims of US Multinational companies.

We know that poverty in India still dominates prosperity. But the glittery of IT and other prospering industries are praised to an extent that often covers the reality. We are no more in a situation to compare ourselves with China. We Indians still consider think that China is a developing country like India (technically it is), but that is not true. The most powerful nation after US in terms of anything (especially military and defence) is China. Today’s world currency markets are governed by China. US federal banks think twice before taking any decision regarding China, as it holds the maximum dollar reserves compared to any other country.

The nation can transcend only if there is peace, and it is the high time to terminate this nuisance of terrorism to their roots. Besides terrorism, India has numerous other problems that make it weak at its foundation. The moment the country thinks of developing something it faces the tough reality. Building infrastructure is of immense importance for India but the pathetic condition of the poor gains priority. It is difficult to turn away from reality, high population, illiteracy, unemployment, social marginalization, poverty, highly appalling condition of public health and much more make our country weak.

We will have to demonstrate the determination to track these problems to their ancestry. Only then there can be a permanent solution. Sooner the headship recognises this; the better it is for the nation.

The writer is a correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz and is also pursuing MBA from IIFT.

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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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