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India”s Less Known Writers Among The Well Known

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By Rini Sharma:

India is a country where you will find everything in an array, ranging from culture, language, religion, people, cuisine, and also the literary people. From time to time many notable and certainly less notable writers have been contributing their bit to the Indian literature and have indeed made a mark in the history, geography and the science of the writing world.

Here is the list of some well known writers of India:

Khushwant Singh: He was born in the year 1915 in Hadali and is one of the best known Indian novelists. Famously known for his humour and abiding love for poetry, this novelist has contributed in various fields. Starting with working as a journalist with AIR in 1951, he moved on to work as an editor for Yojana, Illustrated Weekly of India and Hindustan Times. His work ‘With Malice towards One and All’ is still carried by Hindustan Times in its Saturday’s edition and is liked by one and all. A winner of Padma Bhushan in 1974, Honest Man of the year award by Sulabh International in 2000, Padma Vibhaushan and also the Sahitya Akademi fellowship award in 2010, this novelist has written many known great novels, some of which are- Delhi, Train to Pakistan, A History of Sikhs, We Indians and his latest, The Sunset Club in 2010. Apart from novels, he writes short stories for children as well, one of which is the most famous, The Portrait of a Lady.

R.K. Narayan: A person who brought alive the district of Malgudi through his stories. His writings were based on the life of common India and ordinary people which made it easier for the readers to relate themselves to the stories. The beauty of his work lies in the simplicity and humour he is famous for. His books are widely read and published in and outside India. In all, he wrote 29 novels based on Malgudi. He won many laurels too, for his work. His novel The Guide (1958) won the National Prize of the Indian Literary Academy. His other novels include Swami and friends, The Man Eater of Malgudi, Waiting for the Mahatma, and The Vendor of Sweets. Short stories have been a part of Narayan’s work too. He also won the A.C. Benson Medal in 1980 by the Royal Society of Literature.

Ruskin Bond: Not a relative of James Bond, this novelist was born in Kasauli and now resides in the valleys of Mussorie. His writings are based upon the nature. He captures the serene beauty of the Himalayas and manifests a deep love for nature and people in his works. His first novel ‘Room on the Roof’ came when he was just 17 years old. Bond has written many novels with time, some of which have been adapted by the directors in Bollywood. His novel, A Flight of the Pigeon which is about an episode of the Indian Rebellion in 1857 was presented in the form of the movie Junoon in 1978. Bollywood’s ‘7 Khoon Maaf’ is a based on Bond’s novel ‘Susanna’s seven Husbands’. He worked in the movie as well. In short, he has contributed to the Indian Cinema too. He is an icon among the Indian writers and novelists. He has a great love for children which can be seen in the pile of short stories he has written for them. He has won Padma Shri in 1999 and also the Sahitye Akademi Award for his ‘Our trees still grows in Dehra’.

Now not so famous writers of India:

Githa Hariharan: A not-so-known face in the era of the Indian literature, Githa Hariharan, was born in Coimbatore in 1954. She has contributed a lot to the Indian prose with her writing skills. Her novel, ‘Thousand faces of Night’ won the Commonwealth Writers’ prize in 1993. Her notable works include The Ghost of Vasu Master (1994), When Dreams Travel (1999), On Times of Siege (2003) and Fugitive Histories (2009). She has also written many short stories for children as well, one of which is The Winning Team (2004).

Shashi Deshpande: She was born in Karnataka in 1938 and is famous for taking up the serious issues most of the time. She has contributed some of the great novels on Indian women in past years. Her novels mostly depict women as the protagonists. She has also won awards in appreciation to her work. Her famous novels are, The Dark Holds no Terror (1980), If I Die Today (1982), Come up and Be Dead (1983), A matter of Time, The Binding Vine, In the Country of Deceits, Small Remedies and Moving On. Her renowned novel, ‘That Long Silence (1990)’ won the Sahitye Akademi Award and the Nanjangud Thirumalamba Award too. In this she revealed the intriguing picture of a middle class educated woman in India which received huge praise and appreciation. She was also honoured with the Padma Shri in the year 2009.

Still there are many Indian writers who have written some exceptional novels but do not fall under the popular faces among the writers worldwide. In short, India holds a range of talented writers who still needs to be recognized for their contribution to the great Indian Literature.

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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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