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People In News 2011: India & World

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By Md Khasimul Asif:

As 2011 winds up, one cannot forget the revolutionary movements that led to the most historic moments in change-making. From the liberation movements sweeping North Africa and the Middle East, to the natural disasters of Japan and East Africa, many have come together in the realization that it is time for a change. People and events, from all across the world, have made big news. Some of the newsmakers brought about a change while some resisted it.  As the calendar year comes to an end , it is time to recall few of them.

Top newsmakers of the world

Rupert Murdoch: The Australian-born media tycoon made the headlines this year, when News International, the UK-based newspaper publishing division of his global corporation, News Corporation, was involved in a phone hacking scandal. The allegations came flying in from members of the British royal family, top politicians, and Hollywood stars. The charges were eventually proven true and Murdoch then published a public apology. The event triggered a climate of introspection about unethical press practices and concentration of power in the hands of a connected few.

Col. Muammar Gaddafi : The late Libyan dictator spent several years in the headlines, for a number of disturbing reasons, before the events of October, 2011. Gadhafi’s government was rebelled, defeated and himself killed, in a raid on his hometown of Sirte, when his convoy was attacked by a combined force of local anti-Gadhafi soldiers and the U.S. Armed Forces. The death of the authoritarian leader, brings to an end a 41 year repressive era in Libyan history.

Silvio Berlusconi: The longest-serving post war Prime Minister of Italy, Silvio Berlusconi finally heeded calls for his resignation, stepping down from his post in November. The flamboyant politician, businessman and football aficionado, who could be relied on for interesting gaffes and his penchant for glamorous women, will always be remembered.

Although he did not fulfill his election promises, no Italian, since Mussolini, has made such a lasting impression on his people, who are not likely to forget his “Bunga Bunga” parties either.

Dominique Straus-Kahn: The former Chief of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), was in the news in May, following accusations of sexual harassment by an employee at a New York Hotel and Tristan Banon, a writer and daughter of a family friend. Though he was released later ,this incident  tarnished his image as he would have been the clear winner in a Socialist Party primary campaign, and the only Socialist who had a chance to beat Nicholas Sarkozy in presidential elections .The  likely presidential frontrunner has damaged his home country’s image abroad and possibly his own political viability.

Julian Assange: As the editor in chief and a creator of WikiLeaks – a media website which publishes information from whistleblowers, he has succeeded in revealing classified documents pertaining to many controversies. Revealing confidential and classified  Iraq War and Afghan War documents about American war involvement made a  number of political and media commentators, as well as current and former U.S. government officials,  accuse Assange of terrorism. Wikileaks is now facing a major crisis due to financial woes due to a blockade imposed by many major American-based financial companies making it impossible for the site to get donations from around the world. Assange is also accused of sexual assault charges in Sweden and has been issued European Arrest Warrant to extradite him to Sweden. The revolutionary who stands for transparency in democracy and open governance has had a tough time this year.

Steve Jobs: Described as a visionary, pioneer and genius, perhaps one of the foremost in the field of business,innovation, and product design, and a man who had profoundly changed the face of the modern world, revolutionized at least six different industries, and who was an “exemplar for all chief executives”. His death few days after he resigned as the CEO of Apple, was widely mourned and considered a loss to the world by commentators across the globe.

Kim Jong II:  The former North Korea president who died in office due to a suspected heart attack was known for his totalitarian rule. North Korea is by many accounts the most isolated society on earth due to the Kim dynasty’s policies. Media outlets are state-run, there is no independent judiciary and human rights abuses are widespread. Ironically called the “Dear Leader” ,Kim Jong Il also interminably frustrated Western leaders with his pursuit of nuclear weapons and his repeated provocation of North Korea’s neighbors. Entire world especially the North Koreans are praying for a better administration by his successor.

Aung San Suu Kyi: This Burmese icon is called by US diplomats as Burma’s “powerful and principal interlocutor”. She has suffered confinement for two decades, assassination attempts and the quashing of her 1990 election to the prime minister’s seat by a military junta. Suu Kyi decided this year to formally rejoin politics in the military-dominated country after recent reforms by the current civilian administration .The country is excited to have  the 66 year old democracy icon in mainstream politics.

Top newsmakers of India:

Anna Hazare: Anna Hazare, has emerged as one of the biggest heroes for middle class Indians today. His highly publicised fast-unto-death galvanised people across the nation on the problem of corruption. His hunger strike came at an opportune time; when India’s federal government was already under attack from opposition parties over a series of scandals that cost the state close to $40bn.Many Indians found a common cause in Hazare’s call for an anti-corruption ombudsman, known as Jan Lokpal Bill. After the success of the April hunger strike, “Anna” is a household name. However, he is unpopular among politicians for blackmailing and dictating the house.

Vijay Mallya: With one of the world’s most expensive yachts and a cricket and Formula One team, Kingfisher Airlines’ billionaire Chairman Vijay Mallya is known as “King of the Good Times”. This year India’s “Richard Branson”, a symbol of the hands-on, ambitious Indian entrepreneur, faces the possible collapse of his debt-ridden Kingfisher Airlines. A severe cash crunch led to a string of other problems has led everyone to blame his extravagance for this misery

M.S.Dhoni : Known for his successful captaincy and wonderful track record as a player, Dhoni dismissed all the rumors that it is not his luck but sheer hardwork and skill that made him lead India to the pinnacles of success in Cricket after winning the World Cup in 2011.

Irom SharmilaChanu: Known as the “Iron Lady of Manipur“, Sharmila is a civil rights activist, political activist, and poet from the Indian state of Manipur. She has been on hunger strike for 11 years  to demand that the Indian government repeal the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 (AFSPA), which she blames for violence in Manipur and other parts of India’s northeast.She was also involved in the wave of Anti-corruption movement on invitation by Anna Hazare this year.

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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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