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We, The People — Will We Ever Change?

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By Ruchika Joshi:

As I was surfing through the same old channels on TV that seemed to be saying the same old thing, I came across the movie ‘Gandhi’. Gandhi is a 1982 biographical film based on the life of Mahatma Gandhi, directed by Richard Attenborough. As the movie progressed through the first hour and Gandhi enchantingly worked his way through people, conflicts and ideas, I realized what was wrong this Independence Day.

I realized that we are a blind generation of Indians, that we do not see our nation as our own. We do not see the person standing next to us as a fellow citizen, we do not see the harm we cause, we do not see the injustice that prevails and we definitely do not see our future as one people. Indifference is the word, violence is our answer.

63 years back, when we achieved our independence it was only because our people put the nation before their selfish interests and petty differences. When they saw a future, they envisioned a nation that would emulate a Utopian model of prosperity, unity, altruism and justice. They envisioned their future together as a people. They weren’t blind to their own countrymen and their concerns. Indifference was unheard of and non-violence, as preached by Gandhi, was a code they swore by.

And today, I wonder, if we somewhere in our quest for a brighter India, have lost our way. I cannot count the number of times I’ve been stared blatantly into the face by the questions as to where my country is headed, and what my fellow countrymen have in store for them.

The five year old begging for anything we could spare, the myriad farmers committing suicide in parts of the country we’ve only heard of, the corporate-led destructive terrorism that lynches the poor, the corruption cases that greet us every morning with the hot cuppa, the Kashmir that still burns on its own…the disillusionment continues.

What happened to our leaders? What happened to the faith we placed in them? Gandhi led millions of Indians against a mighty British power solely on the basis of non-violence. Two hundred years worth of an empire came crumbling down, when one man and his fellow citizens decided to take charge of their own destinies as entwined with the destiny of their beloved motherland. Where did that integrity go, where did that patriotism disappear?

As the movie progresses, all I can seem to do is respect my country’s freedom struggle and hope that our love for our nation will be reborn. My country and its citizens will open their eyes to the truth and set themselves free again, this time from their own indifferent selves. Another wave of diligent and capable leaders will take this nation to greater heights, heights that our freedom fighters envisaged for us.

And as the movie credits rolled forward, I pledged to myself that Independence Day this year wont be ‘just another holiday’. It’ll be a day of reminiscence and a day that marks the beginning of something new, something better. Jai Hind!

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  1. Shraddha Sankhe

    Let us not forget that we’re the same India that is beyond exporting spices and exhibiting snakes.
    We’re the India which has not banned Fabook over security reasons. We’re the India where every software/IT engineer is assured of getting a job in one of the top MNCs. We’re the India that faught three wars-most recently Kargil-and won.
    And yes, we must be madly proud of a nation-where no matter how long it takes justice to be delivered-she, that country we belong to gives a hope and chance of a fair trial to some one as demonic as Ajmal Kasab.

    We’re poor. Yes. But we’re noble. We’re corrupt. But we’re a nation where youth can still make a difference. No country is as dynamic as India. And the world is whispering about it.

    Jai Hind.

  2. Atull334

    I believe that India is a country that must change in order to fundamentally exist in a world where we view morality as a code of honour.

    Furthermore, I believe that the empowerment of India will come from ensuring that making “basic” education a fundamental right for all of its citizens will make the country a much more agreeable place to live. Being a foreigner, ex-pat, whatever I view India as a great country in itself, judging what it’s been through but the list of corrupt politicians, the major living difference, the standard of living and more-so the literacy rate doesn’t reflect the vision and desire of Ghandi. We are all equal however you crumble the cookie, we are all the same no matter what.. Equality is a fundamental building block and should be the fundamental building block of india.

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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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