This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Youth Ki Awaaz. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

The Spirit Of Nationalism Still Burns

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

By Waled Aadnan

Two years ago, on a wet and gloomy morning, I woke up to the sight of a Tiranga ready to be unfurled at the gate of the hostel I’d recently made my home. The corner stall served the same tea, the streets wore the same look of worldly abandon, the trees still shed brown-green leaves and still, breakfast served at the mess was bad. Yet it was different for me in a very personal way, like a day that came in customised packaging. It was my first Independence Day celebrations, ever.

For seventeen years, I had witnessed Independence Day come and go behind closed doors back in my hometown in Shillong. Terrorist groups, falling over each other to proclaim their anti-India stand, made sure that the average North-Easterner enjoyed a cosy day at home, come every 15th August or 26th January. So it was refreshing to say the least to breathe open air this particular time.

It would not be far from the truth to say that the true significance of Independence Day is lost on the generations that haven’t actually seen or been brought up on a staple diet of stories of the freedom movement, its heroes and villains. Probably, the only ones who can still feel the true spirit of freedom are those who are deprived of it either by political reasons, like in conflict areas of the North-East and Kashmir, or by economic reasons of poverty and exploitative deprivation. Yet, would it be fair or proper to blame a generation for its disdain and indifference to an occasion cherished by its predecessors, simply because of its chronological position in history? I would argue, no.

It is true that 15th August today evokes the variety of jingoism and inflated national pride that can easily be missed come morning the 16th. To a large extent, one can attribute this sudden outburst of patriotic fervour to a sort of automated conformism; the desire to be part of a shared experience that is larger than us. Or maybe, simply, as Sartre exclaimed in his Nausea, Good God, how important they consider it to think the same things all together.”  And could you really blame anyone for this state of affairs? It’s human nature to flock together, even instinctively. The feeling of belonging has primal connotations of safety inherent in each one of us. Also, personally, the popular idea of Independence means little, because we have never known a day without it. Which, without being too austere on my generation and the preceding one, I suppose is alright.

Yet, Independence Day is not just a holiday, far from it. In a nation being divided and dissected on every ground imaginable, an occasion like this comes handy to remind us of our piecemeal oneness. Through all the jingoism, the message of nationalism and patriotism as perceived in the popular sense isn’t entirely lost on the general Indian masses. It may be agreed that the forms of expression may have changed, that fancy SMSes and Facebook statuses may be our way  of “doing our bit for the nation”. Today, the reasons which keep the nation united might be superficial, even trivial, but there can be no arguing that without them, we would be heading faster towards a breakdown of national sentiment. Independence Day may not be the kind of emotional ritual it once was to Indians but it still is a day that reminds us of the age when the diversity of the land united to dream the Midnight Dream; a day that reminds us and assures us that the dream is unfulfilled yet attainable. So even though the jingoism will disappear the next morning, a small flicker of nationalism will burn on.

The writer is a senior year student at Presidency University, Kolkata. He is an active blogger and freelance writer. Read his other works at aadnancaravan.blogspot.com.


You must be to comment.
  1. Komal

    It’s almost funny how in our country the day begins with blaming the government for high fuel prices & ranting over the lack of driving sense in people & progresses with bickering with the maids & concludes with the day’s new scam expose, come 15th August, the whole country wells up listening to Lata Mangeshkar singing ‘Ae mere watan ke logon’. Like a distracted baby we forget everything and sit in front of the TV, chests swollen with pride and a sudden gush of euphoria for being an Indian! Beautiful words by you there! Independence Day is indeed beautiful!

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

Similar Posts

By Veerpal Singh

By Shipra Gupta

By Shrsti Tiwari

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

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.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

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.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below