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Will The Real Young Indians Please Stand Up And Take Some Action Now?pol

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By Vishal K:

Over the last few months, the indomitable spirit of Indian middle class to fight for good governance and socially just society has made me believe that we are standing at a point of inflection as far as Indian democracy is concerned. Strong media coverage and a burgeoning middle class empowered with social media tools have definitely made it impossible for any malpractice to go unnoticed. At the same time, it has also resulted in increased scrutiny and accountability on the part of civil servants and political leaders. Slowly but surely, we are experiencing a welcome change in a country which still has a strong aristocratic flavour in a democratic set up. A country where civil servants and politicians acquire demi-god status the day they assume office and a country where the citizens keep fighting all their lives for their basic rights in the labyrinthine corridors of bureaucratic red tape.

young india

However, I believe that we still have to travel lot of distance before we achieve the desired transformation in Indian polity and governance. To put things in perspective, I would like to explore few idiosyncrasies of our current system. It is a very well-known fact in the political corridors of this country that middle class does not vote, thereby wielding insignificant impact on results of democratic elections. In early seventies and eighties, the size of middle class was not big enough to change the political equations. That is not the case now, with Indian economy growing at a rapid pace post liberalization, resulting in a scenario wherein one in every 5 families will soon be meeting the traditional “definition of Indian middle class”. This has made the situation very tricky for all the leading political parties in India. The biggest conundrum for the parties is to decide whether to fight the 2014 elections on “Development pitch” or the age old model of appeasing the rural population with goodies like subsidies and dividing the masses on secular grounds. Even the veteran politicians and political analyst are still not sure how the middle class is going to behave in 2014 and that has set the cat among the pigeons.

What exasperates me most is that while we have some really brilliant young politicians who are catering to this new “well informed aware middle class”, the real basis on which voting is done on the floor of parliament has still not changed much. I am not trying to lambaste our democratic system or toe the line “Iss desh ka kuch nai ho sakta”. What I believe is that there is a disconnect between the impact that we are seeking through the protests on the streets of Delhi and the actual impact it might be having.

In fact, I have immense faith in the democratic set up and youth of this country but we have to get out of the cocoon that we have built around ourselves. In this era of satellite television and social media portals, all the emotionally charged debates and the views needs to be channelized in to something fruitful. As much as I respect Mr Kejriwal, I believe there is no need to start boiling the ocean whenever you want to make any contribution to Indian society. We need to put aside the utopian targets like “Corruption free society” in 6 months and many such lofty goals. One protest march or a change in government is not going to solve this age old problem but what we can still do is to start small and see how we can do good for people around us. As William J Clinton correctly said- “Every 21st century professional must strive to do some public good within his realms of private life”. You are young and smart. Set smaller goals. Target 300 lives that you are going to have an impact on. You will feel better when you achieve these goals. You will get the energy and motivation to strive for a bigger goal next time around.

Last but not the least, please vote in 2014. Stop using your voter ID card only as residence proof for telephone connections and acquiring that fancy credit card. If you don’t stay in the city where you have voting right, this is the time to begin the process of getting your voter identity card transferred to your current location. I am sure the front end bankers, consultants, marketing professional and the blue eyed boys of IIT’s/IIM’s form a “busy” cohort but even the privileged people like them owe this much to this country. If all of us make the required effort and vote in 2014, I am sure the political class will get the message that we, “the mango people”, are going to make them accountable every five years. We have definitely managed to cause few tremors with the strong protests over the last few years and the political class is watching us with bated breath but the question for them remains —“Will the middle class and youth of India vote in 2014?” Either ways (A yes or A No), I am sure this will go a long way in deciding the contours of Indian political system and the way next government will rule this country.

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  1. balayogi

    two days back I wrote this on AAP issue and the same applies here too it is about the position of middle class

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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.

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 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)’.

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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, 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.

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