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The Life And Music Of Bob Dylan: A Living Legend

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By Achilles Rasquinha:

Symphonic persona, spokesperson for an era, metro sexuality engulfed within every vein and a living legend, Bob Dylan remains an icon in the eyes of every soul clutched by the strings of blues and folk cult. Poetic power, guitar licks within his composition to engage your auricles, humane lyrics, he is one great combination. The 60’s shade had its golden cassettes with Simon and Garfunkel, Beach Boys and many more ruling the tongues of all, and there was Dylan who stood at the peak.

Bob-Dylan

Robert Zimmerman renamed himself as “Bob Dylan” when he began his journey to make ‘folk revival’ mainstream. His influential lyrics derive itself from another inspiration of his, a man who spoke words of wisdom and imagination, a Welsh poet by name Dylan Thomas. This may also be a potential reason as to why Zimmerman’s nickname turns out to be Bob Dylan.

But here is his uniqueness. Zimmerman never sensed the ice-spice for early rock ‘n’ roll as it although had its own taste to engage the audience, but he aimed for something more humane. Inspired by folk-musician Woody Guthrie who channelized his era with his anti-fascist songs, 19 year-old Zimmerman found his love. He turned his way to live Guthrie’s dream and walked his way to become one of the most notable folk revivalists of all time, musicians who spoke to the masses about issues of the current time.

Dylan created a generation of his own, he never merged with one. He turned himself into a catalyst for the outcries of masses during the African-American civil rights movement where his songs shifted from the local radio to being archetypal protest slogans and pacifist anthems. 21 year-old Dylan spoke the haunted truths in his beautiful song A Hard Rain’s a Gonna Fall which narrated the tale about the sabotaging fear of the nuclear apocalypse and Cuban missile crisis. His most famous anthem, Blowin’ in the Wind spoke much deeper with enlightening versus like “How many years can some people exist, before they’re allowed to be free?” And then came yet another hit, The Times They Are a-Changin’ which cried out about the need for a radical change. And that is why this white man matters the most for his black fellowmen, a reason why he deserves the Presidential Medal of Freedom, 11 Grammys, Academy Awards, Golden Globes and much more. His songs remained his lexicon in all ways of his life, he would say.

Now, here is an impressive and evident paradox.
If a musician dies young, his or her album sales boost high. An evident case after Lennon’s death or even Joplin for instance. You may call it the ‘dollars after death’ theory. However, if you see the same for a living legend, songs reek away to glory just like the musicians’ dying skin, Paul McCartney for instance.

But here is Dylan’s unusualness yet again. Dylan’s album Modern Times released in the year 2006 turned out to be #1 on the American charts and was ranked 204 in the list of “The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time” by the Rolling Stone magazine! Sales reached impressively high, surely beating McCartney and of course, the paradox. His latest album Tempest which was released in 2012 remained third on Billborad 200. Critics and fans never fail to praise his name and glory till he continues to twirl on the top charts just ‘like a rollin’ stone’.

He did it, he did it all, but in his way and not by the way of his ardent fans. When all saw him spurning his guitar and performing alone and while they all liked being used to it, he moved onto a band. When all wished him to continue with acoustics, Dylan brings about his electrifying folk with his Electric Dylan controversy. When the media presumed he was agnostic, Bob Dylan went on to be a Christian releasing evangelic songs and classic Christmas hits. And when they all waited for some more folk anthems, he gives the world his taste for blues. And finally, when the world felt he might lose it all, he continues to keep his consistent music. Cause this 71 year-old is ‘not gonna knock on heaven’s door’, not too soon for sure!

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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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