This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by mani agarwal. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Not Everyone Is Durga Shakti Or Ashok Khemka: The Sad Reality Remains

More from mani agarwal

By Mani Agarwal:

An aspiring youth of India giving up the “simple life of a common man”, private job, settled married life away from the abstruse system of our country, prepares for one of the world’s most competitive exams (UPSC); only because he thinks he is different from the crowd of which he is a part ,because he thinks he can change the way things are done, because he thinks he has the gut to take on the stride fearlessly and efficiently.

durga shakti

The recent suspension of SDM Durga Shakti Nagpal of Gautam Budhh Nagar in UP, quite literally establishes that fact that what we think doesn’t always happen. She must have also prepared with the same rigour, hoping to be a part of the changed system and doing her duty honestly. Although the ironic suspension of officers for doing what should actually be done is no breaking news; she was lucky that hers caught media attention, and today, the whole country is with her.

Every officer doesn’t have the same destiny. There are many in our country who are slashed for doing what they are supposed to do and  not what they are not expected to. Ashok Khemka is another such gentleman who was made to receive what each honest officer is awarded in our country: transfer. There can be no debate on the fact that what they have done for the country is really commendable and new officers should learn a great deal from them. Every aspirant should search for a Durga or Khemka in him/her. However there is also no denying the fact that such actions of the Government does affect the psyche of both an officer and an aspirant.

The reality is that, not everyone has a Durga and Khemka in him/her. Experiencing and experimenting are never on same page. After all they all are human beings and fear the mighty. Even if someone tries to get out of this notorious nexus he is pulled back. Majority of them have developed a view as to why take risk and search for safer havens even if that is at the cost of the nation. This is the reason why we have only a handful of Durgas and Khemkas in our country.

A ‘general’ aspirant is the most pliable in such a situation. With a ‘clean slate’ of mind, getting to know the system by reading about it, agreeing with it at some places and disagreeing at other suffers a backlash every time he reads how some of the most bright and intelligent public servants are like puppets in the hands of not much educated politicians. At times a string of questions pops up in his/her mind; For what am I toiling so much? Is it worth it? Will I be able to actually defend my stand? What if I will be suspended /transferred?

The problem is not that such questions hinder the enthusiasm of joining the service (in most cases I must say), but it is the attitude which they endow prior to joining one. The ever existing cliché of “yahan aise hi chalta hai” accompanies them on the way to their posts. By the time they actually get to know the system, what they are supposed to do (or rather not supposed to do) is crystal clear.
However among the group there are some who dare and will continue to dare and challenge the wrong; telling those with the clout that not all Durgas and Khemkas have kowtowed to this hypocrisy. We pray that they never do (because somehow we do accept that system is not going to change in the near future). We hope their strength multiplies (because we know their strength will come down with subsequent suspensions) .We pledge to support them (because the system will not).

You must be to comment.
  1. Raj

    Maybe the IAS itself is a part of the problem? Maybe it should be demolished or at least severely cut-down? Maybe it is the fact that the Govt. controls so much that we have so much corruption?

    1. Aditi Thakker

      do you have a solution to that? Do away with IAS officers, and then what?

    2. Raj

      Yes exactly! There are so many areas which the Govt. has no business poking its nose. Let people take care of themselves and each other with their own money. There are so many ministries and department that are absolutely unnecessary and simply a waste of money. But they keep growing, providing employment for Ministers and Bureaucrats. Along with that comes a whole load of red tape which is the root-cause of corruption.
      Beyond defence, law, order and justice, there are hardly any ministries that are required. All those useless welfare programmes need to be stopped.

  2. Mani

    We can’t get away with every wrong in any system just by saying it the system itself should not be there.
    That also shows our running away from problems. Instead we should think how can we contribute on our part ,our bit to make it viable.

    1. Raj

      Your suggestion is like curing regular stomach-aches by taking more and more medicine. Should not the long-term approach be to get rid of the causes of the disorder, like not eating bad food etc. ?
      The bloated bureaucracy is the cause of corruption and to remove it is the best means to stop corruption.

    2. Rigya (@jadedfly)

      You didn’t answer, then what?

    3. Raj

      Didn’t quite get you. Are you asking what would happen if we got rid of large parts of bureaucracy? Well then we would be able to concentrate on our law, order and justice systems with far more devotion and funding. Lesser laws means lesser red-tape and lesser scope for bribes and corruption. Tons of small enterprises would be able to thrive rather than just the big ones who can afford to lobby and bribe IAS officers. Also our taxes would go down significantly since we wouldn’t need so much money to run the Govt. Also , people would invest the money (or even give for charity if they wished) much more than today when almost half the incomes of the middle classes goes in taxes (30% direct taxes plus tons of indirect taxes on companies and service providers which get passed down to the customer )

    4. Mani

      Raj:
      see there is a difference between getting away with “bloated “part of bureaucracy and doing away with the system on the whole.
      I seems you are quite motivated to change the system in our country which is good but we should take consider the fact that the system can be change d only by “practical” methods. Do you really think that removing all the ministries from our system will actually happen in this century!!!!!

      the sole aim of writing this article was to instill the feeling for change, genuine change and not harboring solutions which are practically useless.
      I appreciate your rigor but it will serve the intended purpose only if its directed.

    5. Raj

      Yes I strongly believe that we can do without most of the ministries that are there. Except for the ministries that prevent the use of unauthorized force and coercion against people, the ministries that protect private property from those who wish to damage/steal it, the ministries that collect tax, little else is required.
      The most important ministries are the ones in-charge of the military, the police,the courts, revenue and the environment. Those are the ones that must be kept running at peak performance . Some pertaining to infrastructure, foreign affairs are somewhat important. Most others are unnecessary.

      There is not much need for ministries pertaining to culture, education, health, housing, poverty, textiles, steel, youth affairs and sports, shipping, science and technology, agriculture etc. And don’t think for a minute that all these activities will suddenly stop if we remove their ministries. Apart from manufacturing red-tape and stifling these fields, the ministry by itself does very little. In the end it is the private entities and individuals who run the show.

    6. Mani

      I guess you missed my argument .
      I am saying ,may be you are right.May be our country works well(as u say) without the above mentioned ministries.
      But do you really think ,a country which takes so many years to decide about a punishment to be granted to a convict or or so as to say : pass a law ,is your solution really practical and will ever happen ( no matter how many people ag ree with you and defend your stand.??

    7. Raj

      Yes in that sense you are quite correct, sorry I didn’t catch that earlier. But surprisingly there is one extremely polarizing figure who has made pro-Pvt anti-Govt statements : Narendra Modi during his speech at the India Today conclave. However I do not agree with his politics in general , just his view that “Govt. has no business being in business”

    8. Mani

      As regard to Narendra Modi’s speech,I don’t understand how can a person being in the same sphere oppose the same ideology of which he is also a part. Never mind ,its his personal opinion . I would like to see what his party does at the center( if it comes to power) in this direction of Anti-Govt and Pro-Pvt as u say.

    9. Raj

      I am myself not convinced he will be as he was saying. Perhaps he was playing to the audience at the Conclave which was mostly rich business people.
      But still, Gujarat under him has attracted a lot of investment, not just from abroad but also from India.

  3. Saumyata Joshi

    It is the sad reality of our country; we appoint the leaders only to criticize them later. Common man fails to realize the power he has in his hands that is the Right to Vote.

    1. sg02

      yes, indeed it is a very sad state of affairs in our country. (the falling rupee, corruption, communal stress, poverty etc)
      i am currently pursuing b.tech (3rd year), also, i am an I.E.S aspirant. i wish to become a part of the system and and then bring in changes with my given authority. i agree mani agarwal. it is sad to see that politicians are basically influencing and running this country who’s educational credibility are extremely questionable! its time, that instead of complaining, the youth jumps in and builds India.

    2. Raj

      @Saumyata : Perhaps people need not have the right to vote on each and every matter? There are a lot of things that the Govt. shouldn’t be legislating upon.
      @sg02 : I understand your good intentions but I think you are doing more harm by joining the IES. Is the IES necessary? Are PSUs necessary? Don’t we see that in pretty much every sphere the private sector does a far better job without wasting Govt. money. Are you joining the IES because you will get a stable job i.e. you can be the worst employee and still not get kicked out?

  4. mansi gupta

    I somehow agree with what is written in the above article. i feel that almost all of us are not happy with the way our country is functioning. in fact we are far away from happy( at least i am, especially in some particular cases). however a very little percentage of us people have the courage and fearlessness to raise their voice and stand up against whats wrong( i include even myself in this category of people, but i would say that i have started to come out of my cocoon).

    i want to share that their are certain apprehensions in my mind due to which i feel reluctant to do whats right. These apprehensions are:-
    – if i ll look stupid in front of everyone
    – whether i ll get any support from the people or not
    – if i myself will get stuck in a big problem
    – are my efforts going to yield any result in such a big population
    – if i become a full time social activist how m i gonna enjoy my life and pursue my career
    – fear of getting attacked and loosing my life( because there have been such instances where honest people have been killed for taking a step against wrong)

    well right now i could come up with only these.

    i hope that i overcome all my apprehensions and wish the same to everyone who can relate with my point of view.

    1. Raj

      The question is what is your approach to solving these issues? Does it involve more of the same bureaucracy that itself breeds corruption?
      Also have you thought about the possibility of not taking all these burdens on your shoulders and let people solve out a lot of these issues through mutual co-operation? Like we could shut down most of the ministries in the Govt. and still have a thriving society?

    2. mansi gupta

      hey raj! m sorry but i could not get what u are trying to say. first the point of bureaucracy. and then in the second para do u mean that instead of taking a step myself i should wait for other people and let them bring the change…
      could u please elaborate on it.

    3. Raj

      Sorry I was vague there. What I was trying to say is that you, an educated upper class concerned citizen need not take the burden of welfare of the poor on your shoulders and think that you should use the Govt.(by joining the Civil service etc.) to do welfare for them . We don’t need Govt. welfare programs for them. And we should do away with a lot of the ministries and regulations.
      And you need not become a social activist either and dedicate your life to helping the poor through charity

      What you should do is to enable the poor to become productive and earn their way up. You can do so by cutting down on rules and regulations that keep the people poor by a) Not allowing them to start their own little businesses(lack of law/order, lack of capital due to rules etc.) b) Not allowing well-off people from starting companies and hiring them(red-tape, clearances etc.) c) Not allowing established companies to expand and hire them(labor laws, land acquisition laws etc.)
      At a personal level you could start a business or support social enterprises. As a citizen you can vote against the idea of big Govt. and a welfare state

More from mani agarwal

Similar Posts

By IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute

By Vaishnavi Gond

By Satyam Giri

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

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.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

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.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below