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The Darker Shades Of ‘Incredible India’

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By Bipasha Saikia:

Where do I begin from? Since ages our country has been plagued, looted, tortured, tormented and what not. It resembles an ailing victim struggling for life, for vibrancy, for richness and for some health to regain its lost glory. Scanning down the annals of history, the number of scams has become manifold in the last six decades. Corruption in all forms has spread like an epidemic. Corporate, political, financial scandals have blotted our country’s image. Almost every day, allegations are framed on one minister or the other accused of misusing funds. Crimes against women are a hot topic where such stories sell like hot cakes while completely ignoring the trauma faced by hapless women.


And the strangest thing is even new borns are abandoned in our country. They are brutalized for their gender, left on railway tracks etc. And our most respected leaders with a modern view do not even take actions in most of the cases. They simply like to ‘condemn’ such shocking incidents. Perhaps it’s the only country in the world where poor kids lose their lives in bore wells and open drains. It’s the country, where most of the media coverage and reporting is done with the shameful intent of garnering television rating points. Thousands of unsolved cases lie abandoned in some files of our courts.

Incidents like the Gujarat riots shall never fade in the political history of India. Our parties relish the blame game and whenever occasion arises, they love to indulge in ‘tu tu main main’. Some of the most tainted ministers hold high posts in our country. Issues like reservation have always been debatable as people believe it sidelines deserving candidates. Population soars so rapidly that we are capable of producing an Australia every year! So what if hockey is our national sport with 8 golds, 1 silver and two bronze medals, we worship cricket and presumably don’t know the players of our hockey team but we have every little detail of our cricket lords. The city that has been historicalled as ‘dil walon ki dilli’ has been tagged as the ‘rape capital’. You see, how ironical our culture, society and its behavior is.

We have a magnificent system called the caste system in place. It is indeed a very interesting concept. Humans are put in categories based on their occupation, once you are born into a particular caste, you are trapped for life. No doubt, with the growth of information-age, this practice of social stratification has reduced, yet it is an indispensable part of our nation. We are famous the world over for those big fat weddings that hog so much limelight. More than a half of the nation is Below Poverty Line on one side and on the other side, unbelievably, we have billionaires chucking out billions in high profile weddings complete with ‘thank you gifts’ to invitees!

People starve on one side and perish of hunger while grains rot in storages! And mind you, you post anything controversial in facebook and your friend happens to like that status update, believe me, you are under arrest. We are proud to have an army of 1.1 million, the second largest after China. And the laudable thing is, it has kept itself aloof from politics. Ours is the land that has given birth to the wonderful science of Yoga. We endorse the concept of Dhaba- quick and tasty food that every Indian loves. And how does one forget Bollywood the fun place where party never ends? We are hardcore film buffs.

There may be disturbing reports in the newspapers every day. But, undoubtedly, our country is developing amidst this. The value of our currency has now depreciated to an all time low. Yet, we believe it will rise again. We have been quite successful in hunting terrorists and perpetrators of the most heinous terror strike in our country’s financial hub. It seems, things are improving, voices are getting louder, and people are shedding inhibitions, calling for protests and demanding justice. The country is making its presence felt in the Olympics and we hope those medals keep coming.

The youth is not just condemning damnable happenings but doing every possible thing they can to bring horrible incidents to light. We may condemn our education institutions but going by surveys, they are increasing their standards. Our cuisines are satisfying taste buds from various parts of the world. We may complain of the hundred and one things turned wrong in our country, yet it relishes the glory of being the largest democracy on Earth. Our country has adopted the policy of ‘love us or hate us but you cannot just ignore us’! Cheers to such a disturbing yet heavenly country.

You must be to comment.
  1. Raj

    What exactly is your point? Is this some “Oh-I-m-depressed” rant?
    And coming to your points, the Republic of India is barely 70 years old so let’s start there. Corruption is a symptom of a system that has A and B deciding how C will spend money on D. It will come down as we have a more capitalist system rather than our present socialist one.
    Rape reporting is definitely on rise, but take a look at our homicide rate which has fallen drastically in the last 20 years.

  2. bipashazzz

    My point was to highlight the highs and lows of our country and paint a contrasting image of it. There was no specific objective as such. Thank You.

    1. Raj

      Oh nothing wrong with that 😛 Carry on 🙂

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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.

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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, 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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