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Milawat Ke Khilaf Jung: Of Adulteration And Compromised Quality

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By Vaishali Jain:

Fancy gulping down a glass of pure white milk or munching on some chopped salad of fresh, ripe fruits on a Saturday evening? I do. But it seems like a walk down the memory lane. I am yet to find a person who can vouch for the purity of the food he consumes. There is always the uncanny word ‘might’ sprouting up. My aunt brought a huge basket of big, red Kashmiri apples with a smug grin on her face. Her answer to the possibility of adulteration was, “It’s not a kirana shop. Big brands don’t indulge in such follies. Look at the size of these apples.
“Yeah, but can you give a word for them being 100% pure?”
“Of course not. There is always a possibility, you never know. But, nevertheless, they look so good.”

sahara q shop

Mostly all food-items, today, come to us adulterated in various forms. You can line up fruits to vegetables to cereals to spices to dairy products that have adulterants mixed in shocking proportions. It’s common to come across dirt, pebbles and sand in the raw items purchased, as they are visible to the naked eye. But the story, as we all know, does not end there. Sadly, there are adulterants that are deliberately blended with the consumable products resulting in nothing but loss of health of the consumer and a profit for the adulterer. A profit. But at what cost?

The adulterers not only play with the color or texture of the products but with the life of those who consume them. These substances are harmful, they are undetectable by a common man and they are getting mixed in our diets in large quantities. News channels cover the facts of the chemicals that are a part of our daily lives. Dangerous chemicals, that is. You cannot rely on the festival sweets you lovingly offer the little kids at home because the milk has been diluted. You cannot be sure of the ghee on your chapatti because it must be a doctored version of a vanaspati. You cannot utter out “Oh, divinity” after devouring a large piece of mango because it most probably is injected.

Where does this take us? Should we really consider a life on Mars? Or is there a way we could get back the trust and health we’ve lost? Now I really didn’t have an answer to these till I came across the tagline of an advertisement saying, “Milaawat ke Khilaaf Jung”. The advertisement was no less interesting. One just had to dig into the matter — to know about what Subrata Roy led Sahara group had forayed into. It’s called Sahara Q-Shop.

Launched on Independence Day last year, this venture had caught many an eye and rose many an eyebrow, too. Who wouldn’t wonder if out of nowhere a big name like Sahara comes and promises to fight adulteration? Who wouldn’t be shocked to see the big guns, the star Indian cricketers, in an ad that shows them preparing for the next person’s funeral. That next person could be you, me or our beloveds. How endearing would it be to get our funeral rites from the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni?! A funeral much ahead of when it should’ve been. A funeral because there were toxic adulterants in the food on your table.

The message of the advertisement strikes hard because it’s true. But it’s in a negative light, cynical almost, plus the effect it might have on the mentality of the people could not be underestimated. Perhaps the reason why BCCI asked it to be banned. But, by the end of the same advertisement, Sahara Q-Shop comes with a promise that cannot be ignored. A simple look at their website would tell us of the achievable targets they talk about. Achievable AND effective.

Some of its advantages, as mentioned on the site, are:
● 100% commitment to quality
● Right weight/quantity
● 100% disclosure policy across all products
● Convenience of phone shopping
● 305 warehouses in 285 cities

With the availability of the Q-Shops in various localities and their public claim of reasonable prices with best quality, this venture is here to stay. It will get its customers sooner than later. And who knows if it might just change the whole retail picture. The positives it provides are most welcome in a time of deflating trust and inflating prices.

If Sahara can make its mark this time, it will have won a huge battle — not only for the society in general but for its own staggering reputation. This venture is a drowning man’s straw, in more ways than one. It’s a real challenge in a real world and no one is going to cut them some slack. One can only hope it works out the way it was intended to. Or else, there is always Mars to look forward to.

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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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