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I Am Sorry India! There Is Nothing Happy About This Independence Day

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Submitted Anonymously:

I am a 24-year-old Indian woman. I belong to a middle class family and am a resident of a state which has, since its birth been in a trance facing the no-stable-government-no-stable-CM syndrome. Which state you ask? Let it be. Who wants to discuss the torn condition of India on this day! Isn’t today the day of parades, patriotic songs on blaring loudspeakers, tricolour sandwiches and high flowing flags? Isn’t today the day of speeches filled with shameless lies followed by echoing claps? Isn’t today the day of independence?

freedom

I am sorry India. Sorry I can’t write a sugar coated article. I am also sorry that I am not producing before you something iconic and something that has never been read before. I am sorry that the number of chains around my legs exceeds the number of wings I have been given to fly. I am sorry for being a negative voice in your bright day filled with lots of saffron, white and green. I am sorry because even you know that there is nothing happy about this Independence Day.

While there are many different things to discuss about independence and the state of this country, I choose to be selfish and talk about myself today. I shall talk about me, the 24-year-old Indian woman. And before you proceed, please take this in the form of a warning that I am going to talk of the same old things you often hear about women. If you are bored of them already, you have no right to read a word after this, because trust me, you won’t understand. I am not sure if I would have been happier if I was this age when India was celebrating its 30th or say, 45th Independence Day. In fact, forget happier; keeping up with the celebrations of today, let’s talk of freer. I am not sure if I would have been freer then. But I can tell you without an ounce of doubt, that I am not free today.

I am not free to move out of my house after 6:00 p.m. alone. Yes, 6:00 p.m. in my state is the time when if you come back home, and you are a girl, and you live with your parents; you meet very angry eyes. Angry voices on phone if you don’t live with your parents. And then, after that 6:00 p.m. talk on how no place is safe, and my 67th reminder to my parents that I am a grown up woman who can take care of herself, I am not free to be guiltless. Because why should I blame them for worrying for their daughter when parents of those sons who can rape after 6:00 p.m. should actually be blamed, and those I-am-a-powerful-male-breed people who rape, and stalk and fling acid on women should be blamed instead.

I am not free to be the modern Indian woman who does not want to marry before the age of 28. I am not free to decide my career path without hurtful taunts. I am that 24-year-old Indian woman who is not free to decide at what age she wants to give birth to her first child without being looked down upon by numerous and humongous number of eyes. Nowhere did I say that those eyes will pressurize me to take a decision against my choice, but I am definitely not free to avoid those looks, shut those eyes and strangle those voices.

I am not free to decide when I can meet my boyfriend without thinking a thousand times, because that’s not a good thing for me. Because, and I quote a few honourable men of my society here, “because I am not THAT type of a girl

I am that woman with whom many others of my age won’t be able to connect because life isn’t the same for all. But I am also that woman who constitutes a large section of the country. I am to be blamed for it you say? Like many others who fight for their independence I should have done the same you say? Well, for all you know, I did fight. I fought and won the freedom to write these words.

But I am still not free from the eyes, the voices, the sneaking shadows after dark.

Not free from the taunts, the fear and the desire for a law which shall punish those who touch me without my permission.

Not free from the image that my country has painted for me, for a woman. And I am sure you all know what that image is. Please don’t shrug and avoid eye contact with your conscience with an excuse that you are unaware.

I am also not free to give this article an author’s name, because I am not accustomed to be so free to express myself. You laugh at me because I am a coward who didn’t even have the courage to write her name in her article? Why did I write it anonymously you ask? Let it be. Who cares for that answer! Isn’t today the day of crushing Indian flags beneath huge, red beacon car tyres on every Indian road?

Photo Credit: peevee@ds via Compfight cc

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  1. Shubhi Mathur

    hey young lady.. beautifully written… and I’m sure a large portion of Indian women agree with you.. you have a peculiar style of writing and have the liberty to boast it. the boldness in your writing says you are strong headed..Don’t under estimate this quality. Since this harsh reality has dawned upon you make best use of it to acquire your freedom..

  2. Raj

    What a gynocentric rant, given that far more men are victims of violence and accidents, be it murder or wars or terrorism or even the freedom struggle for that matter. I am myself not gung-ho about Independence Day, but at least I’m not wallowing around in pity given the state of men in this country.

    1. Ananya Rastogi

      @ Raj: Could I just say that your anger at any article which in any way tries to show the plight of women is misplaced. At no point in the article, did the lady say that conditions for men are brilliant. She is a 24 year old woman and wrote from her point of view. Your comments on every article on subjects like these are always along the same lines: how women are basically saying shit and how men too have it tough. And then you say that even though men have it tough, they don’t complain about it. In reality when you painstakingly comment on every article and reply to every comment, you are just complaining. Your thoughts are valid and sensible. But bashing every article is pointless.

    2. Raj

      What anger am I expressing? If you had 10 articles all detailing why murder is bad for women, wouldn’t it beg the question “Hey isn’t it bad for men too and why are the articles so blatantly one-sided”? I’m merely pointing out something that others are missing.
      I have never said that women are saying shit, in fact I oppose such generalizing statements. However I do point out that some individuals (men and women) seem to have a very sexist view of things and apply unusually high standards for one sex and treat the other sex as disposable.
      Yes I do post that again and again. But don’t you agree that this website devotes far more articles to discussing the plight of women specifically and leaves out men?

    3. Rigya (@jadedfly)

      You know why the article is one-sided? Because it is written by a woman from her perspective. She is not deluding herself knowing about men. Yes, men face violence. But seriously, this is your own fault. Patriarchal society claims all genders as its victims. In your rant against women and your sympathy towards men, you seem to be leaving out the other gender which has it tougher than any of us.
      If you have a problem with the women-centric articles, why don’t you write about men. A woman won’t really know what goes on in a man’s life right?

    4. Ananya Rastogi

      @ Rigya: That is exactly my point.
      @Raj: If you are so upset at how this forum just seems to voice women’s opinions, then change it. Anybody can write articles here.
      The point is, tomorrow, if someone staying in one place, say Lucknow starts complaining about how bad the living conditions are over there and subsequently someone from Kolkata feels that nobody seems to talk about their hometown, then this is not sensible. The author being a woman, can only talk about the hardships she has to face. She wouldn’t know about men’s troubles. But I am sure all sensible people would be open to hearing men’s side of the story too.

    5. Raj

      @Rigya, Ananya :

      – Rigya, how dare you say that it is my fault that I as a man should face violence because perpetrators are also men ? Please reflect on that disgusting statement you have made. You are no different from the hindu fundamentalists in 2002 who slaughtered unconnected muslims because some muslims burnt the train with hindu kar sevaks. Did those muslims deserve to be slaughtered for the crimes of other muslims? Isn’t that the very logic you are employing?

      – Please stop calling it patriarchy! Call it traditionalism or regressive attitudes but refrain from blaming an entire gender for the actions of a few individuals, That’s bigotry! (check the definition of bigotry)

      – I think BOTH the genders used to have it worse and still have it bad. Men face violence and accidents defending the society (through wars, police action etc.) and through work-related deaths while slaving away, not just for themselves but more for their wives and kids. I’m surprised you completely ignored this.

      – The author can of course write whatever she wishes. But to say she can’t understand nor sympathize with the plight of men in the context of her article on individual Independence is ludicrous. You see men getting killed and injured all around you, men having to work harder and harder to run their households, being caught up in what the society wants them to be and yet you can’t see the suffering? Would you say that men too can’t understand the suffering women undergo because they aren’t women themselves? Beyond being male and female , we are primarily humans and of course we can understand each others suffering. Of course men feel pain, fear, loss, dejectedness etc. even though they are told to suck it up and act brave. Emotional trauma isn’t just the preserve of one gender.

    6. Ananya Rastogi

      First, relax! Calm down bro!

      Other than that you cannot convince me and I can’t convince you. Neither do I wish to. You are entitled to your opinions. And so am I. Just one thing: I had written an article sometime back about how men have it tough. How come you did not write how the article was skewed and failed to represent women’s troubles? (By the way, you said it was great. Thank you.)

      Have a good day. Cheers.

    7. Raj

      This isn’t about convincing but rather about communicating and sharing views. And I am not against writing about women’s issues. My problem with this article is that it starts with a general all-inclusive issue about Independence in modern India but midway decides to concentrate only on victimizing women and portraying men as oppressors. There are so many types of freedom , like polictial , social , economic , religious etc. freedom, freedom of speech, marriage etc. which are relevant to an individual. But there is absolutely no talk about any of this, The whole issue is being seen through a gender-prism and I oppose that.

      And your article was pretty good. But it was in it’s proper context. The topic was specific and you discussed that well.
      But imagine if you had decided to write an article on the bad law and order situation in general but midway in the article you decided to focus the article completely on muslims getting mudered, muslims getting raped , muslims being duped, muslims having road accidents, muslims getting kidnapped etc. and giving examples of only muslim related cases of the above crimes.

      Wouldn’t the reader wonder ” What about Hindus,Christians , Atheists etc. aren’t they affected by these issues ? And why is this issue even being evaluated solely on the basis of religion in the 1st place” That’s what I am getting at.

      Thanks for reading. Have a nice day!

  3. jayati kalra

    Its true. How can we claim we are independent when we need a bill to assure that we are free? Isn’t it something that should be ingrained in every mind. In a democratic country I don’t need anybody’s permission to walk on streets at 12.

    1. Raj

      Who’s permission do you have to take? You are free to walk wherever at whatever time you want. However you are also responsible for your safety, just like any man would be walking at that time of the night.

  4. Ridhi Murari

    With all due respect, I believe voicing one’s emotions towards women isn’t the only reason why India shouldn’t be considered independent, each one out their is still struggling to live by the fundamental rights given to every individual, until we surpass the very fundamental we cannot be considered independent.

  5. aravind

    are you from ap?
    nice article

  6. Mohammad Shamim

    Sorry, I wish I could have helped you. India will take long time, may be, another 100 ys or so to become ‘free’ of these low- brained gentry who rule us all.

  7. Mehul Gala (@mahigala7)

    My heart goes out for you young lady. God bless you.
    Even though our country needs to cover a long distance before it becomes free for all kinds of injustice, violence, poverty and many such issues, I still feel that we should celebrate our Independence day with full fervor paying homage and tribute to the thousands of brave-hearts who scarified their lives for our freedom.
    let’s be the change we want to see. It’s time we fix things.

  8. shruti kapoor

    Hello Ms. Anonymous,

    Thanks for sharing your views and Happy Independence Day!! I can’t help but notice all the negative remarks floating everywhere today. Let me remind you despite of all the million flaws that India has, be proud that we are all living in an independent/free country. You have the freedom to do many many things which if you were in a dictator ruled country like China you can forget about it. No one is stopping your freedom of speech or rants on FB/blogs and other social media, people in China don’t even have access to FB. No-one is thrusting down your throat a 1 child only policy or telling you to do this or do that. You my friends are all educated, well-off and do pretty much what you desire, so stop the negative comments. You are free and to a large extent lead happy and healthy lives. So stop complaining about India and if you really care try and make some real changes in your life for India. Stop complaining about how we even after 67 years don’t have independence. Today is not the “Official” day to complain about your (lack of) independence!!!

    I do understand you have restrictions and I sympathize with you when you are asked to be back home at 6pm but this not entirely India’s fault. It also depends on other things like family background, your city, your parents views. Growing up my deadline was 10pm too. Does that mean India is not independent?

    If you really want to see what lack of independence means, read cases of women in Africa, where they suffer Female genital mutilation starting at age 4. That my friend is what lack of freedom means. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Female_genital_mutilation

    Every country has its shortcomings and is not perfect. No country is free of rapes, corruption, inequality, just the degrees vary. That does not mean the country is not independent. It’s easy to blame the country, politicians, system. But what about US? We the people who make up all this, what are we doing to make it freer for ourselves and everyone around us.

    1. Raj

      Well put! Nice to see some positivity

  9. Aditi Thakker

    You have highlighted some really important issues, but as Ms. Shruti Kapoor has also mentioned, women in India are a little better off when you compare them to the rest of the world. I strongly believe that you cannot change someone’s outlook towards you or society, you cannot expect society to change their beliefs to suit yours. Having said that, you are free to do what you like and how you like, as long as you’re willing to defend your position to those who matter. And if you think, why should I have to explain anything to anyone, you don’t have to but then expecting to be treated as one of everyone is expecting a bit too much.

    The position and condition of women in India is not going to change till women themselves want it to change. As long as women think that it is ok for them to be beaten up by husbands, tortured by in-laws and troubled by society as large, there are enough people willing to keep these practices going. Indian women need to rise above the battered woman syndrome and believe that they are independent creatures. As long as they continue identifying themselves as someone’s wife or daughter or mother, they are obviously dependent, and answerable for their actions. The first step towards this is making all women literate at the least and capable of being self-sufficient. If one cannot even provide for yourself, what is this independence and freedom we’re talking about? This probably isn’t applicable to you at all, but it is to the common Indian woman, who most likely hasn’t got access to the internet! I feel for you when you say you’re sick of the nagging and tagging, but this is going to be routine till you don’t give the concerned people a piece of your mind.

    1. Raj

      Fine but what about men? Are they independent in India?
      To paraphrase you :
      The position and condition of men in India is not going to change till men themselves want it to change. As long as men think that it is ok for them to be injured or killed while working and defending, take the burden of providing for their families and kids, and treated as disposable by society as large, there are enough people willing to keep these practices going.

    2. Aditi Thakker

      Her article is talking about women, and that’s what I am commenting on. As for discussions about men and their sufferings, I shall leave that for an article addressing that issue.

    3. Raj

      Sure I get that, but I feel it would be prudent if obvious groups are not left out while addressing such issues that concern us all equally. I’m not against articles that specifically deal with women’s issues. The only thing that struck odd about this article is the fact that she starts with personal independence (or the lack of it), which is a topic that is applicable to both genders, and turns the whole thing into a woman-centric tirade which portrays men as the oppressors.

  10. Ayush

    hey., i love the way that you have the zeal to fight against the oppressions ..Keep Fighting..Its the thinking of the male dominating society that has to be changed and that thinking could only be changed if somebody takes a stand and fight for the good..

    1. Raj

      Dude, if the society is male dominated then how come far more men get killed defending and building that same society?

  11. bansi dhameja

    HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY
    As this is our Independence Day we should celebrate this day.

    It is a real painful situation described by anonymous lady and her fears are a matter of concern..

    Keep in mind that had we not achieved independence what we are discussing we may not have been able to think o0f it even.

    We have achieved independence as a result of sacrifices by our elders.
    The only problem in my opinion is the moral decline and the race to achieve physical comforts that is driving us to be no more than animals. This is true for all HAVES and HAVE NOTS.
    Our leaders and all of us have to work to make our country better for not only women all the poor as well and every citizen
    Let us try to build morality in ourselves and in our family members. If each one of us works in this direction many of our problems will be solved.
    Let us have faith in ourselves God willing we will be able to achieve our goal.
    I tried tohave put my thoughts a bit
    आज़ादी का दिन
    आज़ादी का दिन तो आज़ादी का दिन है
    गम भले ही दिल में कितना भी हो
    आज खुशी तो हमें मनानी ही है कियों कि
    आज़ादी का दिन तो आज़ादी का दिन है

    हर साल आज़ादी का दिन हैं मानते रहे
    आपस में खुशियाँ हैं हम बाँटेते रहे

    हम हालत से बे खबर है सोते रहे
    लगता है अपने स्वार्थ के लिए ही जीते रहे

    हम अपने घर को दीमकों से बचाते रहे
    उधर कुच्छ लोग है देश को ही खाते रहे

    सोचा नहीं था कि देश खोखला हो जाएगा
    और सब कुच्छ इतना महिंगा हो जाएगा

    लोगों का जीना इतना मुश्किल हो जाएगा
    आम आदमी माहीगाई के तले डब जाएगा

    लोग जनता के कुंभकारण से हैं सोते रहे
    ग़रीबों के हालात दिन-बा-दिन बिगड़ते रहे

    बिगड़ते हालत के हम कारण का पता लगते रहे
    उधर घोटाले पे घोटाले आज तक हैं होते रहे

    ईमानदार अफसरों के तबादले हैं जगह जगह हो रहे
    भ्रष्ट नेता और भ्रष्ट अफ़सर हैं मिल्क उन्हे दबा रहे

    ईमानदार अफ़सर है किन हालात से गुज़र रहे
    उनकी हालात को समझने की कोशिश ना कर रहे

    सायसतदान हैं सब अपना अपना फयडा उठा रहे
    आम जनता के लोग भी लगता है कुच्छ ना कर रहे

    क़ानून गार भी सब चुप हैं और तमाशा देख रहे
    जोश कियों ना आ रहा और मिलकर आवाज़ उठा रहे

    हमारे रुपये की कीमत है दिन बा दिन घटती जा रही
    और इज़त हमरे देश की है मिटी में मिलती जा रही

    अब भी वक़्त है नेताओं को कुच्छ कर दिखाने का
    कुच्छ ना किया तो देश आर्थिक मंदी में डूब जाएगा

    हमारा देश खोखला होता चला ज्एगा
    समस्याएँ बॅडती जाएँगी समाधान मुश्किल हो ज्एगा
    आईये इतनी देर से जागे हैं तो अब जागते ही रहें
    अगर कुच्छ भी ग़लत होता है तो बर्दाश्त ना करें

    वक़्त आने पर ऐसा कुच्छ मिल कर सब करें
    जो देश को खाते रहे उनको सबक सिखा के रहें

    बदल सकेंगे अपने देश के हालत जब
    ‘बंसी’ आज़ादी का दिन दिल से मना सकेंगे तब
    आज़ादी का दिन दिल से मना सकेंगे तब

    बंसी(मधुर)

  12. mansi gupta

    i totally agree with u ma’am. our government is just after improving the economy( which is also not performing well, seeing the value of rupees as compared to dollars). this govt is least bothered about the issues which bother us in our day to day lives and which are far more important than the the economy of our country. this shows that how selfish and mean are our ministers and MPs.
    i dont feel that there is any point in celebrating independence day and any other such day by spending such a hell lot of money in the preparations. rather this money should be used to tackle the problems of the country like hunger, education, health etc. etc. these patriotic days should be celebrated once we are able to curb all these menaces to their deepest roots.

    1. Raj

      Yes the money should be used to tackle those issues you mentioned, but the money should be used by the private individuals and entities , not by the Govt. which just wastes it. There is no need to have such huge taxes to run welfare programmes. Size of the Govt. must be kept to a minimum.

    2. mansi gupta

      what i mean to say is, that instead of wasting money on useless and redundant celebrations ( useless and redundant because India is dealing with a lot of other problems which require funds), this amount must be used to improve the state of our country.
      well there is a better point.if the amount allocated to issues like education , hunger etc are used effectively and efficiently a lot of problems will be solved.

      @Raj : and yes i totally agree with your point related to the size of the government. its really huge. there is so much crowd and so many parties involved in the govt.

    3. Raj

      Let’s look at this logically. You say it is a waste and most will agree. But how is the waste allowing to happen? After all, I wouldn’t waste my money, so why should politicians waste their own money? But that’s the catch, they are wasting somebody elses money! After all, don’t we eat like pigs at weddings but we would certainly not eat so much when we were paying from our own pocket.
      That’s the main point: They are being allowed to spend somebody elses money on themselves and on others.

      That goes for education, poverty, hunger programmes of the Govt. We are asking bureaucrats and politicians to spend our money on somebody else. They got this money not with our voluntary consent but by putting a gun to our heads. (I’m talking about taxes. Try not paying them and see what happens). So unlike a underperforming charity , we can’t take our business elsewhere.

      Do you think they are crazy altruistic people who will sacrifice themselves for us and the poor? Would you let 2 poor families live with you in your 3BHK apartment? If so, then why ask them to act in such a crazy way. Instead keep your money and spend it on the poor yourself or through charities that can’t use a gun to take your money, charities who must compete against each other for your donations.

    4. mansi gupta

      I really like the point raised by you and the example given in the first paragraph above. Its a very practical and genuine point. However the same cant be used to defend the shameless acts of the politicians and the government. I agree that the people of political class are wasting someone else’s ( our) money, but that’s not the purpose for which our money ( TAXES ) is collected. When we go to a marriage or a party we are not duty bound to eat 2 snacks or 2 chapatis. We can have as much as we want ( but should not waste anything). On the other hand its the duty and job of the politicians to use our hard earned money effectively, efficiently and for the purpose for which it is collected, because our money is not for fulfilling their selfish and materialistic desires. That money is given as taxes to see a better and developed India.

      And yes, if these people are not altruistic and selfless, then they must become so or only such people must be elected to run the country (Sadly we don’t have any as of yet). For a family to let some unknown poor people live with them is highly impractical. But asking the politicians to spend our money in judicious manner is NOT AT ALL CRAZY. In fact its the only way that they are supposed to act, but sadly they don’t. Moreover i can’t keep my money to myself. I ll have to pay the taxes anyway. So that is not an option which i have.

    5. Raj

      Nobody is defending those shameless acts. All I am saying is that we have had decades of experience with this and it is time to stop giving so much power, responsibility and money to the bureaucrats and politicians. And I do not think it should be their duty, it should be ours. Why are we as a so-called free society so dependent on our rulers? As citizens who desire more freedoms and rights, so we must be ready to take on more responsibilities. You can’t have one without the other.We as a society must take care of ourselves and each other through the means of voluntary co-operation i.e. through the free market and charity.

      Coming to the marriage point, isn’t the extra food we ate out of greed in itself a waste and a satiation of materialistic desires? Isn’t it moral not be greedy even though the host hasn’t put restrictions on the amounts? What prompted us to eat like that when normally we eat much more modestly? Because somebody else was paying for it, that’s it. I am making this marriage point because it is something we have personally experienced. We don’t think our ourselves anything like those corrupt people but don’t we display remarkably similar behavior when dealing with other people’s money ?

      Now letting poor people in the house is not a impractical idea, after all we have paying guests and shared apartments.The point is are you as an individual or a family ready to lower your standard of living to give freebies to poor people. Would you travel by bus daily and give the money for car/scooter to the poor? Would you send your own child to a cheaper school and fund the education of some poor children in a private school?
      If you as a good educated uncorrupt person wouldn’t behave like that, why do you expect politicians and bureaucrats not to care about their own families and interests first?

      Asking the politicians/bureaucrats to spend your money when you have no easy way of controlling them is A CRAZY IDEA! Remember that your money was taken by you at the point of a gun i.e. taxes. This is NOT the same as asking a charity to spend your money(which you gave voluntarily) on the poor. My suggestion is that reduce the bureaucracy and lower the taxes too.You will have more money to spend, to invest and to give to charities that actually do something.

    6. mansi gupta

      I am not against the idea of charity. Its a very noble and helpful act. But one ques…How can we reduce the power, responsibility and MONEY given to the politicians?
      And i said that we are not duty bound when we go to a marriage, its coz it is a celebration. its a feast given by a family to others. we go their to enjoy. While on the other hand its the job of the politicians to use our money for the required purpose. we dont give them our money so that they can better their lives out of it. Hence it becomes their duty to use it in the requisite way.

      Now, i have one more question. Don’t u overeat or have one or two extra chapatis when ur favourite dish is made at your home? i think we all do that. same thing happens in a marriage, coz everything over there is extremely delicious.

      As far as letting poor, UNKNOWN people to stay with u is concerned. I still feel its impractical. No one wants any extra burden in their lives( by this i dont mean that there is any harm in helping them by the way of charity). u urself used the words PAYING GUESTS and SHARED APARTMENTS. in these two cases the owner of the house gets something in return from the other party or the responsibility between them is distributed. however the same is not the case if we let poor people stay with us. also m neither ready to lower down my standards, nor am i asking the politicians to lower their’s. moreover nobody ever asked to give freebies to the poor. they need to be given what they deserve. politicians already get their salary or allowances or whatever it is called, to take care of their families. but on top of that they also amass a lot of extra wealth with themselves, which is wrong.
      i am not asking them to not to look after their interests, but m asking them to not to look after ONLY their interests.

    7. Raj

      – You can reduce their power by reducing the size and powers of the Govt. as whole.
      Privatization, free trade, fewer rules and regulations etc. are the best ways to do this. Our Govt. was much bigger and powerful (relative to the size of the economy) before 1991. But we cut it down sharply then and we have been making cuts. There are many sectors today like the IT industry which are largely deregulated and have done really well. Imagine what our IT industry would be like if every piece of code had to be approved by a Govt. bureaucrat for national security and public safety reasons.

      – Yes enjoying is one thing but like I said would you enjoy in the exact same manner if you were directly spending your own money. If you were being billed for every serving of biryani, every piece of sweet, every glass of soft drink, then would you enjoy the same way? I’m talking about enjoying when you spend your own money vs somebody else’s money.
      At home, the costs are much lower so you don’t feel it. But if you go to an expensive restaurant and your father is paying, do you order everything on the menu? Or don’t you prioritize and order only a few items and enjoy those. If you won a contest and the restaurant allowed you to eat whatever and how much ever you want, would you order in the exact same manner as you would when your father was paying?

      – Well pointed out, PGs do get something in return and they aren’t free. But you could turn your house into a PG for poor people and not charge anything. But you don’t.
      And the poor unfortunately get what they deserve presently. Sad as it may sound, their activities are simply not productive enough for them to be paid more. Nobody wants to voluntarily pay more for the services they provide. There are many reasons why they don’t provide services that have a higher market value (like lack of education etc.) but the biggest one are rules and regulations made by our Govt. Those rules prevent the poor from starting small businesses, prevent middle classes from starting up and employing them and even prevents large companies from expanding and hiring them. Having a job in itself is a great way to learn new skills and become more productive.

      – And your money which is to be spent on the poor is not voluntary. You and others in the society paid your taxes to avoid jail. That money even if perfectly well-spent on the poor by the Govt., it is still NOT deserved by the poor since it was not spent on them voluntarily. This is another bad aspect of the welfare state, the 1st one being the corruption involved, and the 2nd one being even without any corruption , it is immoral to use force to take someone else’s money and spend it on someone else.

  13. Saumya Sahni

    I haven’t come across such bold writings in a long time. I too feel burdened by the constant pressures which the patriarchal society puts upon us. I myself do not favour the institution of marriages in India. They seem to be more like a punishment. Especially for a female! We call ourselves progressive, but this this progressive lady is looked down upon when she expresses her desire to remain single all through her life, or get married not before a certain age, or have kids as to her own sweet time! No, i definitely call ourselves as hypocrites.

    1. Raj

      While I disagree with you blaming “patriarchy” for everything bad, I agree that marriage should not be there.
      And it is a harsh punishment for men too, who have to spend a vast majority of their hard-earned money on some strange women and their kids. Also they must forgo their true passions which may not bring much income in order to work in shitty jobs in order to earn more money to support their families. Further they must sexually repress themselves and not have consensual intimate relationships with other individuals once they are married.

  14. Raj

    This isn’t about convincing but rather about communicating and sharing views. And I am not against writing about women’s issues. My problem with this article is that it starts with a general all-inclusive issue about Independence in modern India but midway decides to concentrate only on victimizing women and portraying men as oppressors. There are so many types of freedom , like polictial , social , economic , religious etc. freedom, freedom of speech, marriage etc. which are relevant to an individual. But there is absolutely no talk about any of this, The whole issue is being seen through a gender-prism and I oppose that.

    And your article was pretty good. But it was in it’s proper context. The topic was specific and you discussed that well.
    But imagine if you had decided to write an article on the bad law and order situation in general but midway in the article you decided to focus the article completely on muslims getting mudered, muslims getting raped , muslims being duped, muslims having road accidents, muslims getting kidnapped etc. and giving examples of only muslim related cases of the above crimes.

    Wouldn’t the reader wonder ” What about Hindus,Christians , Atheists etc. aren’t they affected by these issues ? And why is this issue even being evaluated solely on the basis of religion in the 1st place” That’s what I am getting at.

    Thanks for reading. Have a nice day!

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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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