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Untangling the Maoist Knot

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By G. Amar Tejaswi:

In India, voices are seldom heard. What travels through the tunnel of one’s ears is a cacophony of people, few important and quite a lot unimportant, trying to make space for themselves in public eye. Of course, they have wild motives of acquiring ephemeral power and accumulating as much affluence as possible during that period. But who cares? We, the general public, are living happily oblivious to the outer world. No, do not protest; I am not talking about the world of technology, the world of our comforts, the world immediately around us. We are far too submerged in it, not to be aware of it. What I am focusing on is the world of the poor, which seems obscure when seen through the lenses of our eyes. It is in this world that people called Maoists are thriving. And now they are taking us on, showing utter contempt, almost elated over the damage they have caused.

Maoists pride themselves for being the saviours of the proletariat, although, quite a few people including you and me would doubt that. They want everyone to believe that they fight for the poor, on behalf of the poor. What then have they achieved in all these years of struggle? It would be utterly naïve to consider their killing of policemen an achievement. By embroiling themselves in the lands of the poor, they are making life for the people inhabiting those lands harder. This certainly doesn’t count as an achievement! But we know that the Maoists have the villagers’ support. It is a synergy that the government is finding hard to defeat. Why is it so? Why do the people of these lands not despise them? Well, the answer perhaps lies in the human nature.

After being battered by the Maoists for so many months, the security forces finally tasted success when they killed a politburo member named Azad. When you think of Azad, you might feel a surge of acrimony from within yourself, or you might not. Azad’s death must be condemned. True, he was a Maoist, but he was not attacking anyone, he had never attacked anyone. Worse, he was willing sitting on the negotiation table. The forces could simply have had him arrested. They acted in haste; it was foolish to kill him, especially when he didn’t retaliate. Now, the Maoists have a martyr! But at the same time, the Government and the security forces must not be condemned. The soldiers were hungry to score a point, the Maoists had already scored quite a few.

All this while, the government has been making a mockery of itself. Losing a battle is alright, but not knowing how to fight is plain ludicrous. Surely, with all the resources the governments at the centre and the state have at their disposal, they should have got the better of the Maoists. Still they don’t seem to understand. At this juncture, we desperately need a paradigm shift. The approach to eradication of Naxalism is erroneous. Counter-attacking the Maoists with force will not subdue their cause. If at all the Government is somehow successful in wiping them out of their strongholds, it will not be the end of the war. They will come again until nobody can find a reason why they should not. What we need is a Gandhian approach. The Government must take urgent and immediate steps to usher in a new era of development and egalitarianism in those areas where Maoism thrives. A separate development policy for these badlands must be evolved and implemented with haste. Schools, hospitals and ration stores must be setup within a short period of time. This will bring the people closer to the Government. The presence of the Government must be felt not through the security forces but through able and efficient administration. The day this happens, the Maoists will surrender voluntarily; if they don’t, then they are no different from terrorists.

On the other hand, the Maoists have the obligation of proving if they really are fighting for less privileged people, for their development. Nothing they have done until now has caused a sense a jubilation among the people. They seem to overlook the most obvious point; revolution does not need to be armed, it does not need to be malicious. Bhagat Singh, the immortal martyr, was a revolutionary and communist. He did not wage a war like this; he never intended to maim anybody. He deliberately threw a bomb on the floor of the Parliament so that nobody would be hurt. Now, there is a lesson for the Maoists.

Caught in this crossfire between the revolutionaries and the government is the poor man. He cannot take sides because if he does, it will bring about his end. Notwithstanding all the rhetoric on this issue that is tearing the poor lands apart, disconnecting them further from the world, neither the government nor the Maoists will change their course. Each side is thinking about itself. Alas, there is none to think about the poor man, he will have to live within himself.

The writer is a correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz.

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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.

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 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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