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The Dormant Rock Music Industry of Today

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By Vrinda Ravi Kumar:

Music has always been a major influence for the youth. It’s a powerful  vocalisation of emotion, a great platform besides being just music. And in the ever-growing music scene, I find it pretty sad that the recent music worldwide seems to have stagnated. The 90s and post-2000 period saw the spawning of many new artists and a wave of experimental genres that didn’t really get a unified name, but were instrumental in bringing about a revolution in music. The rock and blues scene developed an alternative to the folk and saxophone sounds of the 60s and the rebellion and anger that fuelled the 80s in terms of hard rock, metal and growing hip-hop. This large variety of artists and bands made the 90s indefinable in terms of a single emotion or genre.

Today’s music seems to have reverted to a pop culture like the 60s, but without, according to some, the promise of the further development of rock. Top artists this year include, Adele, Foster The People, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Nicki Minaj (billboard.com) all of whom show a progressive preference to pop. The return of Maroon 5 with their album ‘Hands All Over’ is probably a small glitch in this otherwise-seamless movement towards pop, though they show a very strong element of pop in their music.

There is a small spattering of rock music that does exist today. There are many bands that aren’t very widely recognized, and some have mostly singles to their credit. A few top rock songs today are, according to toprocksongs.net and Wikipedia are —

1.’Rope‘ — Foo Fighters (headed by the drummer of grunge band Nirvana,
Dave Grohl)
2.‘Help Is On the Way’ — Rise Against
3.‘Shake Me Down’ — Cage the Elephant
4.‘The Cave’ — Mumford & Sons
5.‘My Body’ — Young the Giant

It is, indeed, very difficult to define rock as a genre, primarily because of the massive variations in the multiple sub-genres that spawn from it. However, the roots of rock can be traced back to the 1940s and 1950s, R&B and ‘Rock and Roll’. The ‘Roll’ part of it; also known as the pop half of the phrase was later done away with, when the two bifurcated into distinct genres. Rock then began to draw influences from country music, jazz, a lot of blues and some classical instrumental techniques were developed further, slowly evolving to become exclusively used in rock.

The wide popularity and the growing number of devout fans of rock has also helped along in facilitating rock music to endorse certain ideologies and emotions, making it easier to identify with, and to unify entire communities that lived thousands of miles apart. This was no ordinary power, and rock shot to the position of being more than a genre of music. It became a lifestyle and a philosophy.

The period of the progression of rock from the 60s to the 80s is nothing short of epic. Thoughts were played and voices were heard, and people realised what was wrong; tradition was questioned and deviations started appearing. Rock transcended to more than music, and people clung to the idea that rock and its players represented. With time, soft rock became hard rock. Hard rock became heavy metal. Punk rock rose to power (with the Sex Pistols and the Ramones), along with heavy metal (Iron Maiden, Def Leppard, Van Halen, Diamond Head, Vardis, Virtuoso (Yngwie Malmsteem), ingraining itself into pop culture as well, to the extent that post punk turned out to be a major sub-genre (The Who, Frank Zappa, The Velvet Underground). While all this occupied mainstream attention, alternative rock started developing slowly, but steadily.

The 1990s were a good, solid grounding and expansion of rock, and the development of many more sub-genres like grunge (Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains), Indie rock (The Cranberries, Superchunk), Pop punk (Weezer, Pennywise, Green Day), Alternative metal (Pantera, Sepultura, Nine Inch Nails) and Nu metal (Limp Bizkit, Korn, Linkin Park, Staind), along with many crossover acts between rap and rock (RHCP, Rage Against the Machine, Kid Rock) ensured that the alternative music of the 80s were alternatives no more and shot to mainstream popularity. Many English bands also emerged in a genre called ‘Britpop’ (source: wikipedia.com), the most popular of which, unquestionably, is Coldplay (debuted with their album ‘Parachutes’ in 2000).

While the post-millennium mark did come up with many new sounds (retrometal, contemporary heavy metal, metalcore), many argue that none of these genres can be identified as ‘rock’, seeing as the roots of rock cannot be heard in the music. Others argue that the decade is probably just a sleepy one, and we’re due for another revolutionary movement in the music industry to sweep the world and all rock needs is an “artist with something different, with more of the tradition of the foundations of rock – great melodies and song writing, hard guitars and a kick-ass kind of attitude.” Elliot Wilson (founder and CEO of Rap Radar).

As of now, rap is ruling the worldwide music scene, and rock is surviving only through its derivatives. What rock needs right now is a band “with a dynamic frontman, that has a sound that can capture the imagination of millions” (Gil Kaufman). While 2011 did have many acts from rockers lined up, like U2, Blink 182, RHCP (Red Hot Chilli Peppers), Radiohead, Coldplay and the Foo Fighters, what we’re looking for is for an act to dramatically change thought and bring together the stratified lovers of rock music all in one huge community. That is a lot to ask for, but to top something as powerful and revolutionary as the uprising of rock, the re-revival of rock will be no walk in the park.

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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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