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When Your Favourite Model Goes Topless

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By Vishnu Raj:

No folks, this is not about Heidi Klum or Gisele Bundchen going topless. But it’s about the newest baby from the German auto major Mercedes, the E-Class going topless. The all new Mercedes E-Class cabriolet or convertible as they call it in America.

Not more than 8 months back… there was news about Mercedes India losing its market share to fellow German rivals viz. BMW & Audi. Mercedes recently launched the SLS AMG, the C Class CGI and the E Class Coupe recently and seems to be riding high with as many as 17 launches in a quick span of time. Mercedes has also over taken BMW and become the largest selling Luxury car maker in India a title which it held for long before BMW took over that spot. In the recent past the company has gone into overdrive mode with a whole lot of new launches & the latest offering being the E-Class cabriolet. This adds to the already present E-Class portfolio comprising of the saloon & the two door coupe in India & yes, the station wagon version which is available in the west.

According to Mercedes, the Cabriolet version of the E-Class represents freedom of driving and celebrates the fun of motoring while cocooning the driver in top-class luxury while making a lifestyle statement. Interestingly, the E-Class in India has seven different versions with the Cabriolet being the latest offering. This makes the E Class a model with the most options. Mercedes claims to have sold 12700 E-Class cars since its Indian launch way back in 1995. Dr. Wilfried Aulbur, Managing Director, Mercedes-Benz India Pvt. Ltd says that the E-Class Cabriolet heralds a new era of Open top motoring and that with its launch the versatility of the E-Class range is further reinforced.

Remember those old low slung convertibles where one could just jump in without opening the doors; the E-Class is not like that. It’s got a very elegant design & also a strong road presence. It still retains the youthful feel in it. Let’s not forget the kind of customer buying the car is going to be more sophisticated. The front headlamps & grill are very much similar to the E-Class saloon.

The new Mercedes Benz E Class Cabriolet is powered by a 3.5 litre V6 engine that makes 272bhp @ 6000rpm. This engine also has very impressive torque figures of 355Nm between 2400 and 5000 rpm. This powerful engine is capable of hitting the 100kmph mark in just 6.9 seconds and takes the Cabriolet to a top speed of 250kmph.

The seven forward gears on the 7G-TRONIC transmission ensure that you always drive in the optimum engine speed range, which means that fuel consumption can be reduced.

The gearbox is very responsive & makes the car fun to drive.

Unlike the other premium convertibles which come with hard top, Mercedes has gone with the soft top fabric which has 3 layers, to insulate the cabin from external noise & protect from the other elements like rain, dust etc. The E Class Cabriolet also features unique AIRCAP features which in simple terms mean an automatic wind deflector that can be activated at a press of a button. This AIRCAP feature cuts through air and doesn’t let the wind come in the cabin even with the roof fully down. A very good feature to keep your hair style intact while driving with the Cabriolet’s roof down.

Speed is part of the cabriolet’s DNA, even the fully electric fabric top exhibits this, with the ability to retract or open within 20 seconds – at speeds up to 40 kmph. Available in options of black, dark blue or dark beige, the 3-layer fabric can be matched to the paint finish to suit one’s personal choice. The car fulfils the requirements in the safety department, other than the airbags it has roll bars neatly tucked in behind the rear headrests.

Then there is the optional set of Harman Kardon speakers. It comes with 12 loudspeakers & a subwoofer. This 450-Watt Dolby Digital 5.1 system provides a first-class musical experience. The speed-dependent volume regulation enhances your pleasure even further by ensuring a constant sound impression.

Mercedes have priced the Cabriolet at Rs.64.5 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi) which makes it a direct rival to the BMW Z4 which was launched last year.

The writer is a Correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz.

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

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’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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