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This Vegetable Seller Knows Exactly How To Be Happy And Inspire Others: Here’s A Talk With Her

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By Saumya Sahni:

After the morning and afternoon clamour, the atmosphere around West Patel Nagar Sabji market calms down as most vendors and hawkers start calling a day at around 8 PM in the evening. The only exception to this bandwagon is 58-year old vegetable seller, Darshana whose toil is an inspiration for people like you and me sitting in the comfort of our houses or offices. Darshana stares out for the last set of customers before she decides to shut the business for the day. Nearly two decades of hard work has caused her joints to develop frequent aches and her fingers and face to droop.


Darshana starts her day at the crack of dawn at 3 am to set up her vegetable stall at 4 am; she manages to purchase vegetables for her stall from the wholesaler of Azadpur Mandi who visits the market at West Patel Nagar everyday at around 7 am. She happens to be the first seller to arrive and the last to leave because of which she is fondly addressed as “Beebi” by other sellers in the vicinity.

Ironically, selling vegetables was never in her agenda. In the crowded, shady marketplace, Darshana nearing her sixties has previously worked in a brick kin for nearly two decades which was sufficient for her family of four consisting of her husband and two daughters. Troubles started for her when the brick kin shifted its base to Gurgaon. The pension which the kin provides her family till today was not enough to suffice her family because of which she had to join her hands with her husband to sustain her family in selling vegetables. Although with the passage of time, Darshana has now acquired a sound knowledge of how vegetables are grown, which of them are unripe and which ones need constant care.

If you are thinking that she has two sources of income including the pension and she has nothing to worry, let me tell you, she is earning only marginal profits because of which she also at times has to resort to selling vegetables for more than the justified price. Tomatoes if are priced at Rs. 30 per kg, she will sell it at Rs. 35-40 per kg in order to suffice her livelihood. Guilty as she feels, helpless she is! She also has the responsibility of paying the rent of her stall and the electricity bills since her husband is ailing. Darshana is also an imaginary philanthropist as she is greatly inspired by the ideals of Mother Teresa. She might not be aware of her contributions to philanthropy but is heavily fond of helping street children and the destitute. Whenever her savings exceed a limit of more than what she had planned, she gifts a pencil and an eraser to little children in need in her colony. She might not have achieved ladders of prizes and hoards of educational qualifications, but she definitely understands the value of education. Kudos to that!

Belonging to a village in Rajasthan, it was not easy for her to accommodate herself to the lifestyle demands here. Extreme inflation and rising expenses do tend to break her back. Bemoaning Sheila Dikshit’s government, she passionately shares her fantasy of matching footsteps with Arvind Kejriwal by contributing to the Aam Aadmi Party in whatever way she can. According to her, Arvind speaks the aam aadmi’s voice because of which he is a suitable candidate to eradicate corruption from our diseased country. Impressive this!

Darshana leads a life devoid of luxuries. Quiz her about her future plans, prompt comes the reply, “I try to enjoy what I do. I like people asking me if I can reduce the prices of the vegetables. I am the queen here. At the end of the day, all I want is a decent future for my kids and health for my family”.

Darshana with buyers

The most striking thing about her personality is her simplicity and honesty. Her kids also are proud of their mother. One thing which I have leant from her is that no matter how high you reach in life, it is imperative to stay grounded to your roots.

The morale which keeps her going in life is, “Struggles make you rich. Principles are your real wealth. You came on your own into this world and you will go also on your own but your principles will never leave your side. God will eventually reward your karma and be it in life or death; he will never levy atrocities on you more than your capacity”.

Truly, Darshana is a beauty. During my brief conversation with her at the marketplace, I realized that you are a puppet of your karma. No work is petty or great. Your attitude makes it or can even break it. A strong will power is all that you require while trudging a path full of atrocities, with a smile.

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  1. K.B.Srivastava

    Darshana s thinking is good. At least there is a question of Sri Kejriwal that he will fight against corruption, she is right. But Lokpal alone will not do. There are many problems in India. For their solutions, Mr Kejriwal should mention in his manifesto that (1) Robot army, drone and fighter plane will be deputed at borders and bullet proof jackets to cover whole body will be provided to all soldiers and police personnel.(2) To create more jobs and employment, robot army, drone, bullet proof jackets to cover whole body and fighter air plane etc. will be made in our country and will not be imported from other countries.(3) In all states an extra post of female home minister and female DGP will be created under whom female police personnel will be deputed to ensure security of women.(4) All people will lodge their FIR on E mail address of the Police Stations and they will not have to go to the Police Stations for lodging FIRs.(5) All girls will be provided a pistol free of cost ;with bullets containing anaesthesia to get the culprits unconscious so that he can not rape. The lions are also shot to get them unconscious before their treatment.(6) Our party is well acquainted that there are 80.8Cr young voters in India(whose vote make the government) and if they stay in hotels with their wives or girl friends they are raided by the police for prostitution which create a disturbance to them. Our party will make such provision that hotels will not be raided for prostitution and action against khap panchayatas and others will be taken who are against of freedom of young voters and young voters will not have to go to Russia, Europe, Australia or America for more freedom.(7) Some poor mothers go to work for brick kiln and some of them go to other houses to wash utensils, leaving their children alone at home and some of them are raped and murdered. In each mohalla crèche will be opened where these children will be admitted and a female constable will be deputed to look after these children.(8) There were no rape case till 1955, when prostitution was regulated in India. In India, prostitution is legal at present, but it is punishable up to a ;distance of 200 meters from a public place like schools, temple and hospitals etc. But after 200 meters, regulations have not been framed by the government so far. Therefore, to reduce number of rape cases, our party will regulate it as it was in 1955.(9) There is shortage of girls in India in comparison of boys, So all boys can not be married. Therefore if foreign girls come in India and stay in hotels for fulfilling sexual desires of Indians, hotels will not be raided for prostitution.(10) A provision will be made in our country that acid attackers will be attacked with acid till death.(11) At ;least there is a question to make police personnel to behave well, instructions of Honourable Supreme Court in this regard will be followed.(12) Number of honourable judges and its staff and female police personnel will be increased (10 times) as per norms of America, so that problem of pending court cases, unemployment and female security can be solved. There are 12.10Cr unemployed in India and they will all get employment.(13) Enough amounts are sanctioned by Central and all State Governments for abolition of poverty. But these amounts are embezzled by government employees and poor families get nothing. For example, for financial year 2013-14 UPA Govt. has sanctioned Rs.6.385kharab for Indira Awas Yojna, Rs19.272kharab for Sarva Sikchha Abhiyan, Rs9.0155kharab for Mid day meal, Rs4.8642kharab for National Social Mission, Rs7.6678kharab for Backward Region Grant Fund, Rs10.850kharab for Integrated Child Development Service, Rs2.9006kharab for National Rural Livelihood Mission, Rs13.50kharab for Food Security and Rs1.8kharab for subsidy on fuel. Grand total ;of all amounts is 101.30855kharab+Rs400 per month as gas subsidy. The same amounts are also sanctioned by State Governments too. Thus, our party will transfer an amount of more than Rs12000/- per month as pension to 16.40Cr poor families (82Cr people whose vote make government), but families whose income is more than Rs15000/- per month will not be entitled to get such pension.(14) For equality, 50% posts will be reserved for ladies in legislature, judiciary, bureaucracy and in defence also if they like.(15) No tax will be levied except income tax, property tax, import duty, luxury tax and entertainment tax.(16) To solve problem of corruption, moveable and immoveable property, its present value and annual income of all citizens of India will be computerized and undeclared property and black money will be seized. Thus poor families who have to receive governments help and rich families, who have to pay property tax, will also be traced easily. Embezzled money will be recovered with interest and corrupt person will be punished with life imprisonment.(17) India is a rich country and we have got 31000 tons of gold in our country. Our party will not take loan from any other countries or from World Bank. Budget of deficit ;will also not be made by our party but to increase revenue property tax will be increased. There will be no property tax up to Rs1Cr and above Rs1Cr it will be @10%, in which gold of temples, houses, cars, farms and farm houses, gold etc. of all citizens of India will be included in calculation of value of property. For example Sri Asa Ram Bapu has got a property of Rs1500Cr. So he will have to pay Rs149.90Cr per year.(18) Under food security 15kg grains and 5 kg pulse will be provided at the place of 5kg grains.(19) Unskilled labourers will be trained for driving, motor mechanic, mason, carpenter, electrician etc. so that they can earn more.(20) Our party will fight against China and get the captured land of India back.(Contd.)

  2. K.B.Srivastava

    (21)Our party will ask engineers to make such engine which can consume jatrofa oil as fuel at the place of petrol so that India has not to import diesel/petrol etc. from other countries.(22) If intelligent professors are not ;available in India, foreigners will be appointed, but Indian students will not have to go to other countries for their higher studies.(23) Lie detectors will be supplied to all Police Stations and police personnel will not have to beat the culprits.(24) To reduce expenditure of elections, all gram pradhan will be provided laptops and E mail address will be made of all 2.5 lack gram pradhans and parshads to whom manifestoes of all parties and work done by the ruling parties will be sent for vide propaganda. (25) 16.40 Cr families (82Cr poor people whose vote elect government) have not opened their accounts on twitter so far. Therefore, they will be given a laptop free of cost and will be encouraged to open their accounts on twitter and write their ideas for development of India and other countries of the World.(26) Poor farmers/farm labourers have demonstrated in front of U.P. Vidhan Sabha and they have demanded and requested for a pension of Rs5000/- per month. Our party will transfer Rs5000/- per month in their accounts so that government employees could not embezzle the amount sanctioned for social welfare.(27) At the time of study, professional training as computer operator, computer mechanic, electrician, mobile mechanic etc.. will be given to the students after high school, so that if they are not employed they can do their own job for their livelihood. (28) To avoid forgery, registrar will be asked not to transfer land/houses till the amount of cheque has been transferred in account of land/house owners.(29) There will be no reservation on the basis of castes and religion, but our party will pay a pension of more than Rs12000/- per month to all poor families of India, so that they can make a progress. Our party is well acquainted that Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Isai . All poor ;are ;bhai bhai. (30) In our country we have got enough coal to produce electricity, so our party will not import coal, but it will be supplied by our coal industries and solar and bio gas plants will also be established to produce more electricity.(31) At present government hospitals and schools are not performing well. Our party will try our best for their betterment. But if they make no improvement, decision will be taken for privatization of these institutions.(32)People will be encouraged for inter caste marriages and will be paid Rs5 lack as award so that caste system would be abolished as soon as possible. Person who will marry in other caste and religion will certainly get a government job.(33)Our party will ask Police Stations to lodge FIR on line and honourable lower Courts will also be requested to get their judgment on line as is already being done by Honourable Supreme Court and Honourable High Courts.(34) Our party will not give tickets to criminals, so that criminals can not rule the public.(35) Rs5000/- per month will be transferred in accounts of flood affected families for a year, so that government employees can not embezzle the amount of help.(36) Adhar cards will be made of all people quickly, so that missing children can be traced as soon as possible,(37)People who have gone to America are appreciating their constitution, law and working procedure of government offices of America. So the same constitution, laws and working procedure of government offices will be implemented in India.(38) Pakistan is printing Indian currency and purchasing our goods from our country with that fake currency. Thus, we produce and they eat. Necessary action will be taken against the criminals of Pakistan.(39) If a baby girl is born Rs2lack will be deposited as fixed by the government.(40) This is a common complaint that name have been listed in voter, but they have some of them have not got their voter Identity Card so far. Our party will make such arrangements that voter I.D., Income Certificate, Caste Certificate and other certificates will be sent on E mail addresses written by the applicants.

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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.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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.

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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.”

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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