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What Does The Unpopular Ordinance And Rahul Gandhi”s Outburst Tell Us About Our Leaders?

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By Soumya Raj:

The road to hell is always paved with good intentions, they say. The latest, much hyped about ordinance by the UPA gives a clean chit to the lawmakers who were previously disqualified on grounds of being convicted of offences with two or more years in jail, and also barred from contesting elections. Not only did it evoke a mixed response from the people, it also disoriented the entire polarization of the frontrunners; such as Rahul Gandhi, Milind Deora and Sandip Dixit.

ordinance

This could have been a really weak pedestal to sieve the good leaders from the bad — after all, if they are convicted of any crime amounting to a punishment of two or more years in jail, they would be immediately barred from contesting in elections or even holding their office. However, if they make an appeal to a higher court and that appeal is accepted within 90 days, this conviction is negated and they can again hold the positions they were refuted from. The very act of approving this much harried and not well thought of ordinance has a lot of loopholes, why such a sudden ordinance on an issue on which there was no previous or well organized political consensus? Or why such an urgency to bring forth an ordinance itself, in the first place? Doesn’t it give a chance to anyone, fraud or fealty,  to hold an important say in our governance, thus vanquishing our faith in democracy forever?

Although in not a very polished way, or pertaining to the code of conduct Rahul Gandhi should be following, given a person of his popularity and stature, and a slightly juvenile stint, he has managed to get across the message that this indeed is not correct. There are so many loopholes in the ordinance, which makes it comes across as a very hasty way to gain the people’s trusts. The way the ordinance has been pushed through, all of a sudden, shows how threadbare and shallow the whole process of approving the ordinance was. It would be a shame if parliamentarians with serious charges, most of which could be true, could come to request for votes to govern a democracy like India, when their records are dotted with several offences.

While the people get some food for thought about how our very “democratic” country is shaping up, BJP takes full advantage of this whole chink, where Rahul represents Congress’s viewpoints and openly claimed the ordinance to be “nonsense”, saying that Congress grain of thought does not match UPA’s decision. Rahul is, for perhaps the first time, not wrong, since a democracy’s basic line of governance is by the people, for the people, of the people. And if out of all the possible leaders, the good and the bad have equal chances to govern our country, where will our loyalties lie? This decision is controversial and disturbed, and has disturbed many; leaders with previous crimes as nasty as rapes, murders, child molestation, abuse or corruption can stand at the same level as the more suitable candidates.

Given the whole concept of egalitarianism in a democracy, there should be no question of giving a chance to people with such dubious records. And such advancements shake up the faith of people, that too, right before the onset of the 2014 elections. Such decisions show the poor thinking skills our leaders have, and also the lack of farsightedness, which could give a few people power (who are already wolves under sheep skins) to destroy the already declining governance, the very pillars that hold up the policymaking business would crumble furthermore.

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  1. Prashant Kaushik

    Nice article.

    What Rahul said was right, but his timings and way in this case are raising suspicion. Rahul should either mend the corrupt ways of congress leaders and UPA cabinet , or resign from congress and join BJP or AAP.

  2. Bhanupriya

    Excellent article. While late bloomers like Rahul have taken the entire credit for this some very early resisters like Jay Panda, Dinesh Trivedi et al.

  3. Arjun

    It was actually the President who refused to sign it terming it unconstitutional. All this drama is nothing but simply face saving by the Congress party. Also BJP had opposed it from the start and had met the President for the same. So stop spreading lies here.

  4. arpit goel

    What i assume , is that he highly disagrees with Sonia Gandhi and isn’t able to do anything due to her power in the party. Even if his sudden outburst makes him a messiah of the act. he is still a puppet in the hands of sonia. It won’t be shocking if we see a quick rebuttal in his actions and opinions if CONgress is back in power.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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