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9 Important Things Which Went Horribly Wrong During The 9 Years Of Congress’ Rule

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By Thomson Chakramakkil:

If the state election results from the North are indicative of the future of India’s electoral rat-race in any way, Congress doesn’t have much to look forward to in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. While the reasons for Congress’ imminent demise are more than apparent, the actual consequences of those factors in the formation of the public opinion deserve further interpretation. The following is an attempt to give such a perspective to the 9 things Congress did horribly wrong in the past 9 years it has been ruling the land.

1) Quasi-autocratic Gandhi reign: For many decades now, starting from Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru to his great grandson Rahul Gandhi, Congress has habitually been in the gloves of the Gandhi family. To put it in a humorous way, the Gandhi family is commemorative of the Italian-American crime families (no pun intended) that operated in New York under a thorough hierarchical structure. The message sent out to the public by this sort of a centralized leadership is that the party lacks any form of internal democracy, especially when it comes to crucial decision-making. And this, evidently, is the last notion any political party would want to send across to the public such as the one in India.

2) Lack of accountability: As a nation that is dealing with a wide range of economic issues, Indians expect their governments to be accountable for the money it taxes from its citizens. Congress, in the past years, has been the exact antithesis of accountable. The degree of corruption that has pervaded the governance mechanism itself blows any scope of credibility that Congress had hoped to garner by the end of its term. As citizens of a country looted by its politicians, Indians feel violated. And, naturally, they feel entitled to a change of political landscape.

3) Change-blindness: There was a time when the Indian political scenario was a monopoly of the Indian National Congress. This was the time when the vote bank comprised of people who remembered Congress’ past, particularly the struggles and sacrifices of its leaders during and immediately after the independence. But, in 2014, the election results will constitute the voice of a newer, urbanized generation that is well-informed by media and sensitized by higher-education. The Indian National Congress doesn’t seem to have come to terms with the fact that the modern voter cares more about change and development that can be a possible outcome of governance as opposed to the politics that revolve around caste and religious sentiments.

Delhi gang rape protest4) Law and Order: The attacks on women and various other law and order issues reported from different parts of the country have put the party on the defensive. The Delhi gang rape, particularly, triggered the public’s general distrust in the UPA government’s ability to protect its citizens, and threw a large question-mark at the law-enforcement bodies across the country – specially when the protesters were the ones being attacked by police.

5) National Security: The BJP and other opposition parties have repeatedly accused the Congress of not maintaining an aggressive stance towards extremist tendencies, blaming it on the party’s vote-bank politics. The insecurity bred in the collective consciousness of the society as the chilling accounts of terrorist strikes fill the newspaper columns is decidedly overwhelming.

6) Absence of a strong leader: As the social and popular media prostrate before Narendra Modi for his achievements, real or imagined, Congress simply doesn’t have a candidate of Modi’s stature, in terms of achievement, charisma or ability to inspire crowds. The cold reception congress receives in its party rallies itself is indicative of how they are in dire need of a likeable face. Public has always longed for a Prime Minister with the defined set of skills that come under the categorization of “leadership qualities”. And whatever Modi has done, as far as Congress is concerned, is bit of a hard act to follow.

7) Inflation: Inflation is probably what single-handedly gave strength to the national antagonism towards Congress that made headway among the general Indian public, which was previously a sentiment confined to specific interest groups. Unlike the other factors in question, each voter has directly and severely been affected by the soaring prices, let it be food or fuel. There is a unity in the sense of betrayal, which has cut through barriers and can fuel a larger paradigm-shift.

8) Social media: Congress seemed to have glossed over the impact social media has in the formation of public opinion. While Modi has invested thoughtfully in a competent PR machinery, Congress betted on its long legacy to perform miracles, which is about to cost them dear. Congress’ recent move to form a ‘cyber army’, when their parade is already rained upon, is more or less a poorly conceived afterthought.

9) Pre-election gimmicks: Congress, realizing that it’s better late than never, has come up with a few damage control measures that are flawed on multifarious counts. The Food Security Bill, for instance, is not only poorly timed, but also ignores the ground reality that the Public Distribution System in our country is just not functional enough to deliver what the bill promises. The collateral damage inflicted by these gimmicks is irreparable, to say the least. In the swing of things, Congress, along with the Gandhi dynasty and its prince charming, has come to collectively form the laughing stock of the country.

Going by the buzz on social-network sites and such, Modi is to mop the floor with Congress in the spectacle we are about to witness the coming year. If the prophets are to be right, the Congress should know where they have gone wrong.

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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 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.

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