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

Of Many “Jashn-e-Azadi”s and “How We Celebrate Freedom”s

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

By Aditi Annapurna:

On Tuesday, the 31st of January, Symbiosis College in Pune released a statement that it was to defer the screening of the Kashmir-based documentary, Jashn-e-Azadi, and this was eventually followed by the college indefinitely postponing the entire academic seminar that was planned to discuss the situation of conflict in the Kashmir Valley.

Any Indian who truly prides India for the fact that over the years, it has grown to become a country that gives voice to even the most radically different opinion would be disappointed at this state of matters. Such a move of a college being subjected to and ultimately surrendering to the threats from an Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) is grievously tarnishing to the image of Indian democracy and Freedom of Expression. Or even if national “image” is not what concerns its citizens much, an act of curbing such a form of Creative Expression spells great concerns for the future of an India that gives Voices to the Voiceless in the most entire sense. This brings to mind another issue that, though having received abundant media coverage, did not quite reach a satisfactory conclusion — the barring of Salman Rushdie from attending the Jaipur Literature Festival in January. Both occurrences, though different in the kinds of societal tensions they stirred, have one element in common — the Artist and his work bearing the brunt of a few men and women who considered any form of circulation of his material as too perilous to the mindset of the State and its people, and ultimately concluded that barring his works was the only solution to resolving the crisis in hand.

Jashn-e-Azadi is a film that aims to portray the kind of violence that had pervaded the Kashmir Valley region in the years following India’s Independence. While very few of us have actually visited the region enough to know about the truth behind the reported violence prevalent in the state, we do have enough media reports as well as first-person accounts to believe that the Valley has been caught in armed conflict for many decades, and that the tears and cries of bereaved inhabitants at the loss of their loved ones are too heart-wrenching to watch for us to think of them as false. We all have that one Kashimiri Pandit friend who always tells us about his/her parents and how they lost their homes in the wake of military conflict and forced evacuations. Jashn-e-Azadi is a carefully-maintained documentation of these memories, of accounts of these severed relations of a person from his Home and Family.

When a film that aims to put words and music to the painful stories of these people, and when a screening of any such artistic work is barred, the very democratic ideal of Freedom to Speech and Expression is threatened. It is thus a very rational fear to set in our minds; that it is in these small steps that the country plunges into the darkness of ignorance and isolation of people and their opinions. Such an act deserves to be challenged at the heart of its very purpose and intention, as the Freedom of The Artist and The Spectator is at stake.

Coming back to what caused such a reaction to the documentary film of Sanjay Kak’s, there still remains a pertinent question that needs to be addressed. The ABVP put forth the reasons for their efforts to postpone the seminar, for the screening of the film was “offering a platform to anti-national elements at the seminar”. The Constitution provides enough protection from these “anti-national” or seditious elements, and lays down provisions that any acts that attempt to incite violence amongst the people in opposition to the State and its sovereignty must be quelled, as they threaten the very foundations of the country and its democratic ideals. Even if Jashn-e-Azadi were such a film that could be classified as particularly seditious content, even so – the means with which its circulation was curbed was not particularly democratic. The purpose of such academic events and discussions is to create a common platform, a network of communication between the diverse voices existing around a particular issue. If a certain group of people did hold serious objection to Rushdie’s literary works and portrayal of certain characters, they must have made use of the platform to voice their opinions about it. In the case of ABVP, the real and democratic solution would have lied in responding to Dissent with its formidable opponent, Dissent. Because, in reality, the Jashn-e-Azadis of the country and the World at large will come and go, and all that will remain is an aura of communication in its truest form having set its foothold on the Indian Social and Political Sphere.

You must be to comment.

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

Similar Posts

By Saras Jaiswal

By Fatema Tambawalla

By Culture Lab

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, 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.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below