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To Host Or Not To Host [FIFA Angered The Common Man, Will CWG Too?]

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By Abhirup Bhunia:

Patriotism and national-pride are terms, often grandiose but hollow. Nonetheless, these are expressions that can be misrepresented, misconstrued. When it is inadvertent, it’s called ignorance; when it is deliberate, it’s called subterfuge. These are remarks applicable to two third world nations, — or emerging economies, as they are dubbed to avoid sounding unpleasant — South Africa and India. South Africa, one of the poorest countries one can call to mind, was exceedingly successful in hosting the FIFA World Cup. The grounds were immaculate and stadiums flawlessly fortified; airports were embellished and inns refurbished. And not to mention the overall appearance of the nation that changed dramatically enough to flummox the eye of an ordinary South African. On top, the South Africa World Cup gave prominence to Vuvuzela (so much so that it stands to be included in the English dictionary) and Paul the Octopus (so much so that the craze for prediction has reached an all-time high). But all these did not do much for an average South African, except for angering him.

The impoverished nation might have demonstrated determination and national pride but, there are those who allege — at the cost of the common man. Self-styled bigheads will put forward a simplistic flowchart of how the hosting of the Cup has, for that matter, set the stage for a financial upsurge. But economists, true to their nature of being bluntly pragmatic, have adopted a cynical view.

Enhanced consumer spending, lacs of tourists, private sponsorship, infrastructure, roads, rail networks, communications, and transport — all these sound good when in festive mood. Not when one counts the budgetary allocation that might have gone into the hosting of world’s biggest and most extravagant sporting event. It is like a poor man believing that burning his pockets to feed on an overly generous feast would make him a stronger and happier man, something that will help him work better and earn more in future.

The World Cup has made the S.A. President and the elite South Africans proud men, but the common man has witnessed no alleviation of his myriad socio-economic problems. However, the final whistle has been blown and no amount of analysis can undo what is believed to be one of the most unpredictable world cups of all times. Enter India. (Addendum: David Cameron’s visit to India has nothing to do with this.) The land of a billion people, India, is set to host the Commonwealth games this October.

A whopping 5.5 billion USD (rough estimate) has been injected into the CWG funds to ensure the nation’s pride is intact. Roads are being renovated, special superior-class buses being rolled up, stadiums being given the finishing touches, villas being built, and of course, the much hyped Terminal three of the Delhi airport which opened up recently, is still being projected as the magical gateway to the ‘new India’.

The T3 itself came with a total expenditure of 2.8 billion USD roughly. Senior politician, Mani Shankar Aiyar, belonging to the Indian National Congress party, lately commented that the CWG was sheer wastage of money. “Thousands of crores are being spent on circuses like these while the common children are being deprived of basic facilities to play,” he said, much to the anger of the organizers. In comes corruption. Allegations of misappropriation intended at the organizers are flying thick, something which can infuriate the taxpayer.

Indians can still bear the burden of having to indirectly fund the Games, of which they know little of (considering India’s unconditional and biased craze for cricket) but siphoning off money is something Indians will prefer death to. A nation, where millions go hungry and farmers commit suicide weighed down by bankruptcy, can hardly be proud of an event that is typified by sumptuousness and profligacy.

As Aiyar said, “Those who are patronizing the Games can only be evil.” And some temporary, mostly menial, jobs that too in harsh violation of human rights coming with measly wages, is just too little to be significant. So the dilemma of the poor — newly prosperous nations — will continue to hover around. The emerging economies, no matter how well-heeled a future they might be looking at, will take time figuring out their priorities. Till then, it appears as if they will be torn apart between starkly differing identities.

The author is Special correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz. Contact him at or follow him @abhirup1

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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, 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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