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All That The Country Expects And Needs From The Opposition Party. They Need To Be A Lot Better

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By Mahitha Kasireddi:

2014, seems to be the most awaited year of all times. Politics has never been this interesting before. Even the apolitical class in the country finds amusement in the speculations drawing in. While majority media and public discussions compress the entire political fever confining to Modi and Rahul, some say the present scenario is beyond them two. They are right. The demand is no doubt for a strong, efficient ruling government, be it one party or a coalition but as an informed elector I’d like to bring to focus the less debated point in politics- “The Opposition”.


The point is people’s representatives are not only the ones in the ruling party, but also the ones in the opposition. If a single party wins with 120 million votes, the rest of parties must have bagged a few seats with around 80 million votes, a number which cannot be side-lined as negligible. The right of an elector also lies in demanding performance even from the opposition. Hence, it is not just the responsibility of the party in power but also the opposition to keep track with “Jantha Kya Chahthey Hain”. And also no government can be long secure without a formidable opposition. It is in the opposition’s capacity and responsibility to propagate political activism.

Talking of the role of opposition in democratic countries, it is a multifaceted organization. It is the key to just and timely delivery by the government. A check and counter to rhetoric public policies and a friend to underdogs of the society. The one that ensures accountability on every failure of the government and adequate addressing of important issues. A centre of strong criticism that keeps the government committed to the people in their policies decisions. Above all, the opposition is an authoritative force that saves, upholds and strengthens the spirit of democracy.

There has seldom been a fair analysis on the activities of opposition. This section is something which has to be counted as one of the wheels that run democracies. The universal conjointness of opposition and ‘politicization’ has rather been overrated at least in some situations. Politicization is more of a tool which can be harnessed to achieve things which have otherwise failed to reach people through public policy. The opposition shall have to take the lead in politicizing the right issues. For example, sanitization of all government schools and rural households, the reasons leading to the failure of RTE, interest of small farmers, the proportion of number of women in the parliament, undernourishment of children, women in post-natal phase and wastage of surplus food storage, the double oppression of Dalit women, corporate irresponsibility towards ecology and environment, women security, growth and inflation etc.

What is expected from a responsible opposition? To become a mouth piece for the voiceless and the politically disempowered, to protest against pro-rich policies, to question the ruling party on the disenfranchisement of rights of innocent and weak. But, in contrast to what is desirable the opposition is criticized of disrupting the daily proceeding of the house, indulging in blame game and negative politicization of sensitive issues and irrelevant issues. For example, the death toll in floods, communal riot, bomb blasts, terrorist attacks, ceasefire violations, jawans getting killed at the border and recently a sadhu’s dream!

From the midday meal tragedy in Bihar to the recent bombings in Patna we see only regular lashing out on each other, making powerful one liners thus disrespecting each other in their position rather cutting across party lines and adopting needed resolutions. The primary practice in a democracy is respecting each other’s opinion while expressing ones opinion strongly. Seeking consent in drawing a conclusion and thus voting for immediate action has been a challenge in recent political scenario. The opposition has to carefully balance the action in stalling wrong policies and on the other hand pushing the government to pass major bills due to be.

The BJP, playing the opposition since nine years has fared moderately. The party needs applause in issues like the nuclear treaty’s supply liability clause, condemning Walmart from lobbying into Indian retail, highlighting women’s safety issues following the brutal Delhi gang rape incident. The same party has also an infamous credit to stalling the pace of major economic reforms towards the end of the monsoon session in 2012. What lies ahead is to see how the next opposition is going to help us in regulating the government each time it oversees our requirements.

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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, 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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