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

Can One Thousand Rights Undo A Wrong?

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

By Rahool Gadkari:

Most of us are different people at work, at home, with friends, with family, with loved ones, on the sports field and many other places. It is often a necessity to adopt these multifarious forms to help compartmentalize different areas of one’s life. But usually there is a broad common basis of familiarity that weaves together these identities we adopt, shaping who we really are. The thought of reconciling with a person’s multiple identities (not the dissociative identity disorder kind!) is something I’ve always found intriguing. Good people do bad things, and bad people do good things. How then does one discern who is good and who is bad? And for someone trying to reform oneself, can one thousand rights undo a wrong?

The recent death of Bal Thackeray — the chief of the Shiv Sena, serves as a good starting point for an argument I’ll try and discuss further, through other examples. Mr. Thackeray’s demise saw an outpour of emotions. People thronged the streets to pay their respects, national leaders called upon the family and the huge city of Mumbai came to a virtual standstill. Witnessing this, one would assume that he was a good, nay — a great man, having touched countless lives through his work and message. And I guess that would be a fair thing to say, I have friends who swear by him and his party’s efforts to further the development of Mumbai and Maharashtra. On the flip side though, we also hear of the Shiv Sena’s oftentimes — violent ways, xenophobic behaviour and divisive message. How then should history remember such a man, loved by many, but with a questionable doctrine? Is he a good person or a bad person?

There is unfortunately, no right answer here. It is an entirely subjective matter. But, it puts forth another question — do we ignore the bad if there is enough good? Isn’t everybody guilty of wrongdoing at some level? Perhaps, but I’m not talking about the plebs here, rather about our leaders, people with the power to influence young minds, to shape our country’s and in turn the world’s future. An ill thought message preached by a demagogic leader runs the risk of being further misinterpreted by ardent followers’ generations later. Consequentially, it is imperative that we endeavour to promulgate the right legacy.

No one for instance, will remember fondly the legacy left behind by Adolf Hitler. Neither will we remember positively the lives of Mussolini, or Slobodan MiloÅ¡ević, or Gen. Dyer (the British officer responsible for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in 1919) and many others like them. It is not people like these I’m concerned about, nor great people like Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela or Mother Teresa. They can easily be categorized into good or bad. I’m interested in people like Winston Churchill, or Mao Zedong, or perhaps even Yasser Arafat, whose legacies though largely good, were subject to a lot of dispute. Churchill was heartless and indifferent towards India, and should’ve been held accountable for the great Bengal famine of 1943. Under Mao Zedong’s China, countless people lost their lives during the Great Leap Forward campaign. And Yasser Arafat, though revered and respected the world over, was believed by many to have supported the terrorist movement within Palestine and promoted violence against Israel, while amassing a vast personal fortune.

Author Gerald Seymour wrote in his book Harry’s Game (1975) — “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter”, and it seems that in situations such as these there are always two sides to the coin. But somehow that explanation seems to be too convenient, too easy, and almost akin to allowing people to absolve themselves of the consequences of their actions. While good/bad are indeed subjective, there needs to be a better dialogue in society today to address the larger implications of our leaders’ actions. The Election Commission of India bans campaigns based on divisive racial/religious messages, but that hasn’t stopped many from continuing with their discordant rhetoric. As with most problems in our country, poverty and the lack of education lie at the root of the issue and need to be addressed before we can hope for the fructification of thoughts similar to what I’m expressing. At a community level, people will indeed vote for the leader who they feel would put in place policies and systems that give them the best chance to get two square meals a day. But very often the message of betterment is veiled in caste politics. Hence the analysis won’t and probably shouldn’t be expected to happen at the grass roots level. Rather it is only through greater awareness and control by regulatory bodies that we can hope that our politicians would focus only on their policies and plans, rather than on their kinship.

This issue also brings to the fore the question of how we should react to Narendra Modi’s prime ministerial aspirations. He is undoubtedly one of India’s savviest and most efficient chief ministers. I knew a gentleman who’d worked with him, and he described to me the amazing work ethic and the pragmatic attitude Mr. Modi possessed. He’s transformed the state of Gujarat into a vibrant business friendly zone, attracting billions of dollars in investments. His ability to get things done, efficiently at that, is unquestionable. But can we elect to our highest democratic office, a man accused of abetting communal violence? By the accusation itself (leading to a travel ban in several western countries), I fear that he has disqualified himself from that race. A representative of the country, no matter how astute, needs to be a unifying figure. Mr. Modi sadly doesn’t fit that bill. Mr. Modi’s example might prove (I’m speculating here) that even with a decade of brilliant statesmanship, certain things cannot be forgotten.

Unlike Mr. Modi though, there are several others who are skirting that thin line between right and wrong. So while the answer to my question about forgiving one wrong in favour of a thousand rights is very subjective, through an awareness of the facts and constructive debate, we can empower our citizens to decide on these people’s guilt. As author Gurcharan Das puts it — “When ordinary human beings err, it is sad, but when leaders do, it haunts us for generations”. Let us then, do our best to put the right people in positions of power.

Photo Credit:

You must be to comment.
  1. Charumati Haran

    You make an excellent point and highlight a very troubling question of categorizing our leaders as good and bad. Aside from the examples you mentioned, there are several controversial figures in our history. But our enormous interest rises from the fact that they are public figures and their decisions impact many others. However, they are still ordinary human beings who might make mistakes. For Modi in particular, it is doubtful that he would be foolish enough to repeat the mistakes he has made in the past. Sadly, he still seems to many the best choice of PM since a large part of our political leadership is even worse than him! The best would be if such leaders would voluntarily atone for their wrongs, so that they can be absolved.

  2. Saurabh Agrawal

    This was a nice read indeed. However, regarding the issue of whether Modi be India’s PM, my views are a bit different. I agree that Modi is not an ideal man but isn’t it true that he is the best candidate currently? Besides, no other leader or party in Indian politics truly support secularism and they rather use it as a cheap tactic to hide their all corruption scandals. And after Gujarat riots, do you really think that the lives of Muslims or any other community is miserable in Gujarat?

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

Similar Posts

By Ritwik Trivedi

By Ritwik Trivedi

By sairaa julkaa

    If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at

      If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at

        If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at

        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