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Crusade Against Corruption in India: Thanks to Assange?

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By Amrita Paul:

He has been the harbinger of terrible omens, making every country’s worst premonition come true. A hacker in his early life, today he travels all over the world talking about the need of investigative journalism and the freedom of press. With an enormous support from the international press, he has transformed Wikileaks from being just another news website to an important journalistic tool revealing suppressed and censored injustices to people from all over the world.

From publishing documents on the Iran and Afghan War to reporting about the extrajudicial killings in Kenya, Julian Assange has revolutionised modern-day media into a major instrument for societal change. Recently, over five thousand Indian tapes acquired by the US Embassy were disclosed via Wikileaks taking the entire country off guard. What followed next was a series of harrowing events and the bitter realization of the fact that India’s every move was tracked, followed and commented upon by U.S diplomats sitting miles away in their air-conditioned offices at Washington DC.

Such an astonishing revelation has led to several movements all over the India, the most recent one being that of Anna Hazare about the much debated Jan Lokpal Bill. Inspite of all that, we are left with an inevitable question whether the crusade against such widespread corruption is only a result of Wikileaks and its editor-in-chief Julian Assange, as claimed by the man himself.

According to law student Surath Bhattacharjee – “It has silently incited the frustration into a widespread movement against corruption”. However he asserts that – “One influential person goes incendiary and the entire population follows without even remotely questioning the moves of the erudite.” According to a recent report by Reuters, Wikileaks has allegedly charged the present ruling party for buying off MP’s during a crucial no-confidence vote. The news was first published in India by The Hindu, giving extensive details about a certain conversation between a senior Congress party member with a U.S Embassy official regarding the payment of nine million dollars to a regional political party in order to secure their support.

Most of this had started in the year 2005 when a series of cables were sent to the US regarding India’s decision to side with America against Iran at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Cables from April 2008 have been revealed, of an anxious official worrying about displeasing the Americans because of the visit of the Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The cable states later that this trip was organised to appease the UPA government’s left and Muslim constituencies. Little did they know that they would not only face resistance from the US Embassy but also from the Opposition whom they did anything but please. However, the biggest blow has been through the latest cables which stated that the Congress had bought MPs to survive its vote of confidence in July 2008 when the Left challenged India’s nuclear deal with the US. And within three weeks of the disclosure, you had social activist Anna Hazare announcing a fast unto death as a campaign against the widespread corruption in this country.

One might wonder why all of a sudden there is such a hue and cry about a Lokpal Bill which even last year’s handful of scams had failed to stir up. According to journalist Debapriya Mondal – “The Anna Hazare issue has two sides to it. A few call it a political game, and a few call it a revolution.” And when asked about her opinions on the matter she clearly stated that she believed that this was nothing but a government fixture in order to retain its image in front of its people. As for the Wikileaks cables – “That is just a small part of the much larger western perception which believes that whatever they do brings about a revolution in the third world country.”

Veteran journalist, P.Sainath points out that in the entire long list of distinguished members of the Lokpal Collegium there is just one elected representative i.e. the speaker of the Lok Sabha who only votes when there is a tie. There is an incredible arrogance involved when it is presumed that the elected representative process is a farce since the people have already elected “bad people”. It is not only an undemocratic process but also arbitrary in nature. He says – “You needed a committee to turn out such garbage?” And by providing such a dangerous weapon in the hands of the Government they can ensure the retention of that gulf of inequality which separates us from each other.

Anna Hazare has been a revolutionary figure for decades, but somehow the Lokpal Bill seems to get more and more unrealistic with each passing day. Anna, who has earned his people the second movement of Independence has never been concerned with their political affiliation. But then what do you do of a Narendra Modi who is of the opinion that Anna’s fast has created an emergency like situation in the country? Since Modi was well aware of his statement, what could he have possibly meant? Lastly quoting Javed Anand, the General Secretary, Muslims for Secular Democracy – “But thank you, Anna, for speaking up now. I was assured that no one would be allowed to make political use of your anti-corruption platform. But who can stop the leader from speaking? So we know now that in your post-corrupt utopia, we should look forward to leaders like Narendra Modi.”

You must be to comment.
  1. John gray

    The things that have mention in the post is great all the
    people will get awareness about this movement that you have started.

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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.

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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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