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Time to herald renaissance in the jungles [Part 5 of 5]

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Abhirup Bhunia: (in the final part of the 5 part series on Naxalism. Read the complete series here).

Unproductive, cacophonous and conflicting debates have raged through for the past one year or so apropos the unending violence unleashed by the Naxals. The critiques have encompassed causes and what went horribly wrong in resolving the problem but none included answers to those waiting-to-be-answered questions. One reason for that could be the lack of discernment. Not one person could provide a guarantee that the simmering tribe dominated areas in Chattishgarh, Bengal, Bihar, Jharkand and the rest would finally settle down never to rise up again. Well, no human can guarantee!

Perhaps no soothsayer or clairvoyant can unearth what these violent Reds are trying to put across by wreaking unrestricted, atrocious and cold-blooded carnage. Are they attention-seekers? Or is it a hapless case of settling scores? Are the Naxalites waging war against the Indian state seeking to overthrow them? Or is it that they have been forced to take up the arms on behalf of destitute people in order to deliver social justice? In each case there is a justification. Let’s dig up each instance. If seeking attention of the government with the intention that the latter addresses their issues, is the case, let there be no ambiguity they have succeeded. (Too much of attention has already been paid to them.) But the fact that it stops there and doesn’t finish up with their concerns being addressed says that the path treaded is flawed and fruitless. If the Naxals are trying to settle scores, they have miserably failed in their attempts, because civilians, jawans and helpless villagers are not in charge of the government from whom they possibly expected attention followed by development. If it is about social justice, then their efforts have been all the more futile since it is they whom the Naxals claim to be representing who are getting killed. All this can bring us to one confident conclusion if not multiple: the path of violence thereby walked by the Maoists in order to fulfill their objective, whatever it is, is dreadfully erroneous and unpardonable.

Now the onus is squarely on the government. Why were those areas so starkly undeveloped that things turned so ugly? Why has the government failed to anticipate (The government should have seen it coming)?

Solutions: (personal views of the author)

1. Call for immediate truce. Halt operation Green Hunt so that peace talk like situation is created. Violence and armistice cannot go together.

2. Convince the Naxals that the chances of any grievance in future would be minimal.

3. Fast track development — health and education, to start with.

4. Let the two pronged approach, which is harped by Sonia Gandhi, the PM and the articulate spokespersons of the Congress, be implemented. But one prong of the process will be to develop and the other should be to convince, not to fight out.

5. Why not implement NTEGA (National Tribal Employment Guarantee Act) like a NREGA exclusively in states affected by Naxalism to be executed by the state and not the centre?

6. Finally, give them a period of time (say 3 months) — those who do not buy the proposals should be simply treated as scalawags who come in the way of positivism and productivity. Treat them as vehement violators of the law and penalize them heavily.


No other thing, in the past year or so has gained more air time (TV) and print space (Newspapers/magazines) consistently than Naxalism. It is time for them to call it a day and make sure it dies out once and for all. But for that to happen, some thorough brainstorming by the think-tanks is required. It is also high time that internal spats are put to death. In addition, let us stop christening some people as Maoist sympathizers. Let us not coin terms like the latter, red terror and so forth. It is time to mean business and get down to brass tacks.

The series is wrapped up.We look forward to your feedback and comments on the series or the article in particular. You can also mail us at so send in your letters at Feel free to tweet us @YouthKiAwaaz.

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  1. Dr N Sarkar

    I liked the innovative idea of NTEGA! Do not know how much it qualifies but.
    The series received little commentary – must be owing to the topic’s weight

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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.

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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.

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.

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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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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.

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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.”

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.

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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, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’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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