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India Goes ‘Bindass’: Is This Representing The Indian Youth?

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By Shivangi Singh:

*Slaps*
*Screams*
*Wails*
*Beeped Abuses*
…and the distinguishably miserable girl exits the screen from left.

A typical scene out of a popular “reality” show, ‘Emotional Atyachaar’ on UTV Bindass- a channel who’s tagline is, “Be Bindass. Be yourself.”! This makes one wonder, is crying out loud on national television and making your personal life public termed as ‘being yourself’?

Welcome to a whole new world and experience of television called, reality T.V. Technically, it refers to ‘a genre of television programming, that presents purportedly unscripted dramatic or humorous situations, documents actual events, and usually features ordinary people instead of professional actors, sometimes in a contest or other situation where a prize is awarded’. Ironic, hence, that the commercial format of such shows is neither unscripted and nor does it document actual events. In the highly competitive world of television media, channels are willing to do anything that fetches them high T.R.P.s, so much so that all moral and social codes of conduct become out of question and the only thing that matters is publicity. Caution is thrown in the air when it comes to issues like viewer sensitivity, age, emotional and mental maturity levels. The question that arises then is what really are T.V. channels trying to prove and get away with in the name of being ‘youth-oriented’?

UTV Bindass is a channel that is a self-proclaimed youth entertainment television. The message that they try to put across is that it is a brand for the much-hyped ‘coolness’ quotient amongst the youth of the country. In the times of bull-eyed marketing and target audience pre-determination, such tactics seem to be getting a stronger hold in the market, as in a country like ours, where it’s a novelty, people like the freedom to choose and when it comes with the added advantage of making it an ego-issue, it works! Gone are the days when youngsters used to boast about their achievements or assets. These days what you watch on television is as important a factor in deciding who you sit with during lunch as what you wear to college. And when peer-pressure rules, it takes one by head-over-heels theory, where one gives in to the lowly calls of being the little Mr. / Miss Popular of their perimeter rather than following their minds to fulfill their dreams. This surely doesn’t paint a very good picture for the country’s future.

The shows that this channel broadcasts stand as a testimony to the degrading standards of the television content in India and also the blind aping from the west due to lack of original ideas. It highlights the need for not only stringent laws by Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, but also their strict enforcement. Not one of these so called youth-oriented shows can be completely enjoyed with family. If one were to talk about, ‘Khan Sisters’, the first thing that would come to mind is that it’s a distasteful adaptation of the highly popular western show ‘The Kandarshians’. Do the makers of this show really don’t understand that if people are interested in learning more about how a family-next-door lives, they will physically visit them and enlighten themselves? Another show that successfully brings out the worst qualities in youth of our country is ‘Super stud — The school of flirt’, wherein all possible efforts are put into turning decent gentlemen into lying, manipulative individuals trying to woo girls with all the wrong intentions only to be called the ultimate Casanova. This television program showcases women as disposable objects rather than as worthy and equal individuals, hence, it’s a sad fact that such a show is even allowed to be lawfully aired on national television. Then of course, we have the very controversial ‘Emotional Atyachaar’. This show is adapted from a western show called ‘Cheaters’ and exploits the delicate fabrics of human relationships by planting and/or strengthening doubts in the minds of partners in loving relationships. The doubting partner, called ‘lead’ sets up the other partner called ‘suspect’ with a stranger who tries to get intimate with the latter and if they give in to the temptation, then there goes their relationship. This show completely lures audience on the mere public display of the embarrassing or sad details of someone’s personal life. The agony and tears of a broken-heart fetches them T.R.P.s and in their defense the makers argue that it’s a form of social work as they are helping people with problematic relationships. Shocking Truth: The psychological impact of such incidents stay long after the broken heart is healed, as it develops an attitude of mistrust. After being cheated upon, caught cheating or even for that matter, realizing that your partner doubts you and has put you on test on national television, most of the people succumb to low self-belief, confidence, self-esteem and a very fragmented perspective towards love, relationships and most importantly, commitment. No wonder then that trusting becomes a challenge forever for these victims called ‘participants’ for such shows.

In light of all the harm done by such shows, it is a crime to call them ‘youth-oriented’. For, if they are really “for the youth, by the youth”, they should focus on character building and development and making a sound foundation for a bright future by promoting healthy competition and all this in a fun manner. This is where true creativity lies. Plagiarism is definitely not the way. If the show scripts are copied off successful western shows, what example are we setting for the creative young minds out there? Young generations are tomorrow’s leaders. Feeding them with garbage in the name of entertainment would certainly not help the country’s case. In order to create a great future for the nation, having an immaculate moral fabric is a pre-requisite. Television censorship therefore becomes the need of the hour. It’s high time we all wake up!

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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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