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Nation”s Favourite Pastime IPL Kicks Off

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By Sanika Natu:

A good number of people in the Indian summer feast upon an extravaganza called the Indian Premier League, popularly referred to as the IPL. Come April, many households turn on Set Max at dinner and are accompanied by their favorite cricketers. While our Mom serves us daal-chawal, Yusuf Pathan clobbers Harbhajan Singh for a six. Where else would you find two World Cup winning Indian heroes up against each other, except for in the Indian summer? It might be this unique spectacle or the fervor of vacations for many a school kids, IPL seems to be the hot topic each summer. Not to forget the immense glitz and glamour this league brings along. From film stars cheering for their own franchises to the country’s richest man jumping in joy like a school boy when his team wins, IPL is an ensemble of vivid picturesque displays. And when ‘slap-gates’, cheerleaders, parties and controversies fail to remain aloof, who would want to miss this piece of action, surely not when country’s favorite pastime comes along. Cricket and Indian summer go hand-in-hand, courtesy IPL.

This brainchild of ex-commissioner Lalit Modi kicked off four years ago when T20 was flavor of the nation. Dhoni and Co. had lifted the T20 World Cup a few months back and India couldn’t get enough of this shorter version of cricket. There were high expectations from this cash rich league. Indian millionaires, movie stars and entrepreneurs had invested huge in this league and moreover it had BCCI backing it unlike the treatment to its then competitor Indian Cricket League (ICL). And I am sure everyone will agree IPL lived up to all the expectations and beyond. Much to the dismay of Indian fans, IPL had to shift its base next year to South Africa and many hurdles followed. But it soon returned to its backyard and continued to live up to all the hype. When many people loved and followed this high-on-money entertainment, it had its own share of critics too. This bunch of critics bashed parties, cheerleaders and doubted the future of cricketing culture in India. The money factor was blamed for a sudden shift in the quality of performances and young talents were criticized to be victimized by this. And fanatics thumped Indian Team for poor performances at world events after an IPL outing. Nevertheless IPL never went short of its fans. While cynics continued to bash and doubt this league’s future a few more sixes were hit and much more money was made.

This year IPL promises to be bigger and better. We can only know if the latter turns out to be true in a couple of months’ time but the former claim is perfectly true. The fourth season of IPL has an addition of 2 more teams to the bandwagon. While Pune Warriors India and Kochi Tuskers Kerala are new on board, most of the other franchises seem to have lost their faces. But, title defenders Chennai Super Kings lead by MS Dhoni have succeeded in retaining a majority of their players this season, so has Mumbai Indians as Sachin Tendulakar, Harbhajan Singh and Keiron Pollard remain to be their poster-boys. The dynamic openers of Delhi- Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir together won’t entertain Delhiiites anymore as Gambhir will now captain Kolkata Knight Riders. KKR without Saurav ‘Dada’ Ganguly had disheartened the Knight supporters but they can perhaps boast of a revamped side. Equally disappointing if not more would be to see Kings XI Punjab without in-from Yuvraj Singh. This Chandigarh lad will now lead Pune Warriors as Punjab will be left in the hands of an IPL winning captain, Adam Gilchrist. While some stars leave their home cities for professional commitments, Kochi boy Sreesanth can dance away to glory in his home city with Kochi Tuskers Kerala. Sri Lankan star of the World Cup finale, Mahela Jayawardene will lead this Kochi side, while the captain of his national side Kumar Sangakkara will try his luck with the Deccan Chargers. Vijay Mallya and son will no more cheer Anil Kumble or Jacques Kallis and Preity Zinta will no more hug Irfan Pathan and Brett Lee. Moreover, Shilpa Shetty won’t celebrate Yusuf Pathan’s sixes as he won’t bat for Rajasthan Royals. But they say some things never change. At the age of 41, Shane Warne will still captain and coach the Royals.

Pff! Even a fanatic might just take some time to digest this new feast. New franchises, new leaders and new players are going to be the highlights of this season but a fan would hope IPL brings along the same old entertainment or even better! As I write this, a hero called Anna Hazare stands against corruption and wins over the system and another hero guides Chennai Super Kings to victory. A nation that spotted the possibility of IPL being a corrupt league stands against corruption today and I am sure all the fans hope malpractices stay at bay and we witness some extravagant entertainment. Who said this summer is a cricketing over-dose? Indians can’t get enough of their passion. When it comes to cricket no one can get as religious as we can. Summer and entertainment sound synonymic as many cricket crazy Indians await another season of entertainment, another season of IPL!

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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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