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What is Politics? LOL!

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Oviya Govindan:

Politics in India is all pervasive. One just can’t insulate oneself from the melee.

One reads much about the political parties, their parties (!), the policies, the fanfare in the name of ‘meetings’, the idiosyncrasies of the leaders who claim to represent the masses, the coalitions that defy any common ideological ground, a bewildered common man, apathetic youngsters, and winds of change with more people especially youth entering the fray. In short a very colorful spectacle.

Living down South in Tamil Nadu and familiar with the goings on of politics in this part of the country best, I shall attempt to put forth below what constitutes politics in the Dravidian Territory.

Roads will remain full of pot holes weathering the summer or the monsoon. But one fine day… they will acquire a new sheen. Roads in (only in) select areas will astonish beholders with their smooth surfaces. And of course, later one can witness them merrily crumble beneath wheels in a matter of months. You will realize that all the fuss was because a politician’s visit was due in that locality. That’s the common man’s brush with politics.

In the event of important days of ‘national interest’, that is the birthdays of the leaders of the parties, posters banners and flex boards will adorn the city premises. NOTE: I suggest tourists time their tour of the city during this time for it will yield an exotic landscape that captivates the eye.

These banners will reach heights beyond the statutory limits. They will be positioned in strategic points in the city where they act as dutiful obstructions to daily life. The court’s orders to remove banners that cause hindrance to public life will be defied.

But ahh … the extremely creative captions on them that sing praise of the veterans of the parties, the unbelievable talent behind the pictures and photos morphed on Photoshop will leave one gaping in awe… Most importantly, the martyrdom of citizens who got seriously injured by the banner falling on them adds importance to these practices. They definitely define politics for quite a few of us here.

For the Aam Admi politics is synonymous to Freebies. Free rice. Free Color T.V. (Excellent!!) Free Land. Why try to improve your status in life by hard work and some effort when the magnanimous government is ever ready to satisfy not just your needs but also wants?! Why bother to think about the electricity bills at the end of the month from using power-consuming machines like the television..? Who cares if the quality of rice at the PDS is bad; it’s *Free*… And yes…why wonder where the money for all this flows from or even stop to think about the corruption that this must entail…

As for the politicians, it’s a master plan to cripple minds of those at the bottom of the pyramid with something as powerful as the television; while taking care to provide numerous channels most of which are run by the party members or aficionados. While television can completely stop people from thinking, why not feed them more of it and curb their lives to one of Work-Food-TV…

Politics is the promise of freebies AND the unfulfilled promises of course. Promises are meant to be broken.

Politics is when different news channels run by different political parties give different versions of the same news. It gets even more eventful when they point fingers at each other in a pseudo-reliable tone. The fun is ours to devour.

When the solution to every issue raised is a ‘Bandh’ and Mahatma Gandhi’s Fast-unto- Death concept is a tad over used … that my friends, is politics. When every protest on rights and justice begins a week or so before polls, you know feel and recognize politics at its best.

When polls are on and the Election Commission has set down that all campaigning should halt, there will be decoy operations distributing cash for voters; trying to tap the people’s sense of morality which works thus “Having accepted their money it is unfair if we don’t vote for them”.

You see, the mob seldom thinks beyond to reason out that their own tax money that has been looted over the years has just been given to them in a different form. Yes, this is politics too.

Finally when every political party worth its salt has staged at least one protest for the cause of the language, held at least a few meetings on the cause, one or two fasts, and claimed to be the sole representation of the interest of those people, then you know this is nothing but politics.

Politics. Heard of this etymology of the word? : Poly +Ticks (you know those blood sucking parasites…) This is what defines politics in the minds of the general public here. Of course the winds of change are blowing and a spring clean is long overdue. Change shall come, from the socially committed, the youth and the true patriots. We shall and will keep striving for this.

In the meanwhile, let’s make best use of the drama and theatrics of our leaders so we can have strong examples of How Not To Be.

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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.

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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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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.

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