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We Complain More, Care Less: Why “Rajneeti” Doesn”t Interest The Youth

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By Riya Rana:

Name any 10 political leaders. Did a bevy of names strike your mind? Now how many of them would you classify as young (within the age bracket of 18-35)? Even though some names might come up, you can see that they are not famous or known, i.e. mostly they are not in the centre of politics. None of them is in a position of ‘great power’ or ‘influence’. Talking about numbers, the average age of our politicians is 64, while 65%of Indians are under the age of 35, the average age of an Indian being 25. Such huge disparities can’t be missed. It’s an irony that on one hand we take pride in being a young democracy, but we haven’t yet used it to our benefit. We have entrepreneurs, scientists, businessmen, but young leadership in the political arena has been abysmal.

youthAsk any average Indian if he would want to be involved in running the country. One can imagine them vehemently nodding their heads, indicating a clear no. However if you ask one about the country’s present state or the government, you can definitely expect a list of complaints, negative opinions- ever increasing with time, sprinkled with a few positive views. Such is the political apathy.

Being a politician isn’t desired by many. Corrupt politicians have made us sceptical. Our generation grew up reading about scams and fraud. We have seen humongous amounts of money being transferred to Swiss accounts- the money which could have provided us a better life and opportunities. We have seen our parents criticising the government, our grandparents talking about the righteous freedom fighters. With each scam that hit the nation, we made our little peace with it, because being angry didn’t lead to anything. Majorly, we have become indifferent to it.

Even those who are interested realize that the stakes are too high. Probability of success is too low. The youth is impatient. Waiting 30-40 years to get to the top position, that too at a high possibility of being ousted by someone else doesn’t seem like a smart choice. We have been conditioned to always choose the safer path, career, life. There is too much manipulation, people-pleasing, risks involved. Also if you don’t belong to a political dynasty it’s pretty impossible to break in. Most politicians choose someone of their kith and kin as ‘descendants’.

There is a dearth of role models to inspire the youth- A role model who is in a prominent position, being relatively young, without family connections. Rahul Gandhi can’t be considered as one, given that his success was largely in part due to his dynasty. Moreover his critics are equal in number to his supporters.

It is rightly said that with old age, comes wisdom and experience, necessary to run a country. However this leads to a divide between majority of the population and those forming the policies. Most of the senior politicians have age old views. They are not incompetent fools, but there is a reason why the concept of retirement after a certain age exists. Involving the youth would breathe fresh air into our democracy, in strong need of a change. Young people are more bold, risk-taking and open to new things and views. After all, who can better represent the aspirations of the younger generation of India, better than the leaders who themselves are young?

With growth in technology and increasing use of social media, our people have been actively speaking their thoughts regarding the political scenario on various platforms. The youth doesn’t hesitate in doing so and have become e-activists of sorts. Protests against wrong-doings of the government have seen a steady rise in the number of young people, braving the cold, lathi charges and what not. We also have young MPs, albeit less in number. Probably it’s a silver lining in the dark clouds. Compared to the past, this might be an accomplishment. However, it’s not enough. We need equilibrium, where the youth will have the reins in politics, guided and not threatened by their seniors.

You must be to comment.
  1. Raj

    I say make the Government largely irrelevant. I believe the proper function of Government should be law, order and justice. It should not be to implement various “welfare” schemes for the corporate and the ordinary citizens. I think the Government and its services should be slashed by a factor of 10

    1. sg02

      @raj: are you a law student?

      @riya rana: yes, i totally agree with you… debates and forum discussions will not get us anywhere!
      we have to step into mainstream politics.. and fix the machinery!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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)’.

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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.”

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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
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