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Life Is Beautiful: “Change Minds, Save Lives” [END HONOUR KILLING]

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By Rahul Gautam:

In the sky, there is no distinction of east and west; people create distinction out of their own minds & then believe them to be true”. — Lord Buddha

Let us model the ‘Indian Society’  as an organization which has been following a Mechanistic Structure wherein the tasks associated with each of the four layers (CEO, Upper White Collar , Lower white Collar, and Blue Collar) under this structure have been clearly defined.

  1. Chief Executive Officer (CEO) — The CEO layer is considered as the Priest’s layer; members of this layer can marry only within their own CEO layer. If any daughter/ son, born and brought up in this layer tries to marry someone from other lower layers, that marriage is not being acknowledged either by the group of CEO’s or by the organization as a whole. According to these puritans, ‘this will dilute the reputation and also affect the PRESTIGE of their Priest’s layer.’
  2. Upper White Collar (UWC) — The UWC layer is considered as the Protection layer with similar rules as that of the CEO’s layer to protect PRESTIGE of this layer.
  3. Lower White Collar (LWC) — The LWC comprises what is to be the Business layer with similar rules as that of the CEO and UWC layer to protect PRESTIGE of this layer.
  4. Blue Collar (BC) — The BC is considered to be a part of the Servant layer. This layer doesn’t have any other choice but to serve the above three layers. Earlier they didn’t have the right to education, to visit temples, to read holy books, to share food and other stuffs. But gratefully, at least a few things have been improved what with OCM (Organisational Change Management) and OD (Organisation Development) as subjects having been introduced in the curriculum of this organization. Credit goes to the authors of such books like Jyotiba Phule, whose remarkable influence was apparent in the field of education for women and the downtrodden, agriculture, caste system, women and widow upliftment to a certain extent; credit is also due to Swami Agnivesh, who belongs to the CEO layer of the organisational structure but has been constantly contributing to the upliftment of the lowest layer of the organisation i.e. Blue Collar. Now, the BC’s class has the right to education and the right to go inside temples. However even in the 21st century, in few places they don’t have the right to marry anyone from any of the above 3 layers. It doesn’t matter if they have risen/ can rise to the layer of UWC/LWC/ CEO by their sheer hard work and good conduct but if they are born in the Blue Collar’s class, they WILL be treated as a Blue Collar’s.

The structure of this organisation has been divided further in sub-layers. For e.g. In the CEO layer, we have the High class CEO, Middle class CEO, Lower class CEO, Pure CEO, Vegetarian CEO, Egg eating CEO, Non Veg. CEO, Theist CEO, Atheist CEO, and the list goes on… And the other three layers are no different where the same division is being followed!

Inevitably, our organization has been splitting-up like an endless Chain Reaction. Is there any end to this division? Should we blame the founders of this organizational structure or should we blame those who are still following this culture in 21st century? These are the few prevalent questions which beg for an answer.

Fortunately, there exist various subsidiaries of this organization which usher in restructuring in its culture processes. There are many liberal and rational employees in these subsidiaries who understood the meaning of the words ‘humanitarian values’. But unfortunately, most of these subsidiaries invariably end up following the same old culture. And to prevent this rigidity, they can stoop to the lowest possible level. Even to the extent of killing their own sons and daughters for their so-called Prestige/Honour!

Buddhism and Sikhism are the independent organizations which have been formed to get rid of this societal-based irrational structuring and to create a flat structure within their organization; to create a good culture without any discrimination so that people should get incentives based on their deeds and merits, not by their birth.

The Irony is – People who belong to Sikhism and Buddhism have also created the same structures in their ‘pure’ organizations. The influence of this irrational structuring is so powerful that no other religion is being spared and this has also moved beyond the boundaries of India wherein people take this cultural baggage along with them to foreign countries as well. There is growing evidence that caste is rearing its ugly face in other countries. E.g. Recently in U.K., the Anti —Caste code bill has been passed.

Times of India- Newspaper Article, April, 2010; an article which stirred our soul and whose output was a short film “Prestige- A delusion defeating dignity”: a daughter was killed by her own mother in the name of so-called honour. The reason — Her daughter belonged to the CEO’s class and fell in love with her equally potential batch mate who was unfortunately born and brought up in the Blue Collar’s class.

If we consider killing as a Prestige/ Honour, then in the same breath, we should rate Osama Bin laden and other terrorists as the most respectful and honourable people of this planet. And Nobel Peace laureates like Mother Teresa and Nelson Mandela as the least ones!!

I’ve been travelling around and visiting the temples of India since 2003, covering almost all different religious places: like Hinduism– Temples of Mathura, Ayodhya, Shirdi, Puri, Islam– Chisti Dargah at Ajmer, Christianity– Churches at Delhi and Chennai, Sikhism– The Golden temple —Amritsar, Budhism– Lord Buddha’s place at Shravasti.

Simply I love all places and respect all religions… I love to gorge on a garma-garam halwa at the Golden temple, I love to attend the 3.30 am mangal-aarti at the Hare Krishna temple, I love to revel in the serenity at a Church, I love to hear the qawwali at a Dargah, I love to indulge in the calmness and peace at a Buddhist pagoda but I found nothing Rational in this irrational structuring within the religion and society and nothing Honorable/Prestigious in killing of their own children!!

“No Religion… is better than Love & No Caste… is better than Humanity…”

Life is beautiful… “Change Minds, Save Lives”

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  1. diwakar

    The brutal hierarchy that enslave us. The writer beautifully written his article.

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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.

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.”

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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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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)’.

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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.”

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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.

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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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