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The Ineffectiveness Of India As A Country- Divided We Stand, Divided We Fall

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By Sanjay Dudani:

I don’t know whether it would be fair enough to question the very fundamentals of our Indian society and system on which we Indians are seemingly so proud of. The day a child is born he is taught the lessons of non-violence with personalities like Gandhi and Nehru as the models of this theory. Why is it the every morning we wake up, each one of us claim to be fundamentally non-violent and to all of us it doesn’t matter how bloody our past had been? It sounds bizarre to me that even after 300 years of the Mughal rule and another 300 years of English rule, we Indians see ourselves as non-violent Homo sapiens. The sub continent was prone to battles and blood but still we hand down the principles of non-violence generations after generations.

We got our independence 65 years back but do we really feel that we are independent? It’s the need of the hour, my fellow countrymen, to introspect these questions which always haunt us and I feel myself feel brutally bemused when I rake through the possible solutions.

First of all the very policy of non-violence (the punch line of our rulers) is fundamentally flawed in its nature and kind. I make no bones about it to say that it was this very policy manoeuvred by Gandhi which won us our freedom back in 1947. But our policy makers need to understand in the first place that the strategic position of India in the global arena has changed gigantically compared to what it was during the Nehruvian era. India has never asserted to violence voluntarily but the price we had to pay for this has been monumental. Why is it that America has till date (after 9/11) been successful in combating terror but our agencies have failed on such a large scale?

Below is the explanation-

The most harrowing experience that I have gained about the Indian politics is the lack of consensus on matters of national importance. All our parties are responsible for our plight. What we should learn from the Americans is to react as Americans and not as individuals.

The second major factor which contributes to our failure is the lack of professionalism in our work. We need to understand that our apex agencies such as RAW, I.B. etc are not the only ones responsible for this humiliating mess. It’s basically the lack of support from other institutions that time and again exposes chinks in our armour. The lack of expertise and the technical training that a policeman (can be a traffic hawaldar) needs to have in order successfully face a dire situation of terrorism needs immediate attention.

Good intelligence (information) comes from effective networks and the cables that carry this information to the main servers are highly prone to corrosion or already been corroded. Is the problem lying within our system or with our genes? Is the “chalta-hai” attitude of the Indians the cause of our plight?

Quality institutions and people have always been nurtured in this country and can still be nurtured but the question is how? Dipankar Gupta, a well-known sociologist points that “We Indians have the will to succeed but not as society or as country but as individuals”. Our politicians turn out to be mere rulers but not as captains of an army leading upfront.

The major change our society has gone through is the identity transition. Our Preamble starts with the words “We the citizens” but somehow the momentum that the word “citizen” carries with it has been distributed to the various religious groups, caste groups etc. We have stopped identifying ourselves as Indians but rather we identify ourselves on the basis of our worship place and our mother tongue. The islands of excellence have been swamped by the oceans of incompetence by the so called “bureaucrats” of our society. The pursuit of individuality or the persistent occupation of success as individuals, have undermined the very fundamentals of our democracy.

Why is the “lokpal compaign” which was once so passionately followed by every individual come to a halt? Have we blinded ourselves to the chicanery of our politicians or have we assumed ourselves to be incompetent? Why is it that initially every scam is opposed so flamboyantly during the early days and after some time it dies down like a burnt paper?

The fault lies within our institutions which have failed to articulate the message of nationhood. The fault lies within our diplomatic arena which always uses non-violence as the veil for its incompetence. Nonetheless, the fault lies within us who are not able to break the barriers of religions sponsored to us by the colonial scholarship and work as individuals rather than Indians. It’s time to introspect our souls, my dear friends.

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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, 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.

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