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Congress Party Needs To Read The Writings On The Wall And Self Introspect Urgently

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By Dr. Amrit Patel:

The Sunday’s [8th December, 2013] Assembly election results of four States of Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh clearly reflect the public mood against the Congress rule under the banner of UPA-2 since 2009-10 in general and 2012-13 in particular. Like Ms. Mamata Banerjee of the TMC who uprooted 25 years’ rule of communist parties in West Bengal, Shree Arvind Kejriwal of the AAP unseated Ms. Sheila Dixit, who had been the Chief Minister for three terms, with more than 25,000 votes. Besides, the congress failed to retain their presence in two states of Delhi and Rajasthan and failed to capture other two states.


The issues of continuing food inflation hurting the housewives accompanied by sky rocketing prices of most consumer goods, and disillusioned youth of 20 to 35 years age not being cared of by the Government to impart the requisite vocational and professional skills that can help them earn their livelihoods in particular, exploded against the congress candidates in these four State Assembly elections primarily, leave alone the misrule of the congress leadership in two states of Delhi and Rajasthan. Even though the poor constitute a vast majority of Indian voters, they have been shut out of public discourse. In fact, a democratic system depends largely on what issues are brought into political engagement. The Indian media have indeed rendered yeomen services to bring out a number of issues viz. financial scams and scandals involving huge amounts, rising food prices, mismanagement of food stocks, storage and distribution system and focusing sharply on the agenda for a country with the largest population of seriously undernourished people in the world.

It is unfortunate that even after more than 65 years after the country’s independence a majority of Indians are still shackled to their deprived lives in a way quite rarely seen in other self-respecting countries that are trying to move ahead in the world. A large numbers of Indian -primary-school students are unable to write a simple sentence or do basic arithmetic. Literacy among children above 15 years in 2010 was 63% as compared to 94% in a most populous China, 67% in a Muslim Indonesia and 93% in Malaysia, 88% in Thailand, 91% in neighbouring Sri Lanka and 93% in Vietnam, Female life expectancy in 2010 was 67 in India as against 75 in China, 77 in Brazil and 75 in Russia. Per capita income in 2011 was $ 3203 in India as against $ 7418 in China, $ 10,279 in Brazil, $ 12,000 in Russia.

The demonstrated inability of the Government to make institutions providing public services accountable has been responsible for country’s trailing much behind its neighbours in South Asia in every social indicator that matters, from literacy to child malnutrition to access to toilets. In respect of education and health India remained behind countries of East Asia. There is scant attention paid to India’s dismal rates of child immunization, which are among the lowest in the world,

Mrs. Sonia Gandhi representing three topmost positions viz. as the Chairperson of the Congress party, the UPA and the National Advisory Council and her son Shree Rahul Gandhi as the Vice president of the Congress party must accept the verdict of the voters most gracefully and quit from the leadership forthwith as for the first time voters voted in large number and a significant number of them rejected the congress candidates fielded by the mother and the son.

The Congress party under the latent/hidden dictatorship of Mrs. Sonia Gandhi after 2004-05 has grossly neglected the most pressing issues concerning the people, more importantly Aam Adami, and the country. It is shocking that the country had to witness total chaos, misrule and dictatorship under this leadership. For the first time in the political history of India, the country has a Prime Minister since 2004-05 who has been totally loyal and faithful to Mrs. Sonia Gandhi rather than the constitution of India.

The arrogant congress leaders including ministers did not even care to read these writings on the wall and continued behaving shamelessly as if they are the semi-gods and nobody can touch them. Only they can unilaterally frame the policies and pronounce socio-economic programs after being suffixed Nehru, Indira and Rajiv Gandhi for implementation.

Believe it or not, these two boiling issues of inflation and unemployment among youths in particular have now assumed such a scale and size of seriousness that Governments in these four States shall have to devote significant amount of resources to deal with them in a time bound program, monitor, evaluate and redesign to yield expected results. The political leaderships in these four States shall have to demonstrate their concern for the people and commit to fulfil people’s expectations and be accountable to the people in particular and to the State Assemblies in general.

The basic structure of the Government with an oversized council of ministers and bureaucracy involving about 3.45 million staff and the salary budget of around one per cent of the country’s gross domestic product could not deliver the mandated services to the people. India’s problems can’t be attributed to a lack of tax revenue. Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka with fewer resources, have made solid progress in improving health and education while India stagnates. The Governments under the Congress rule for over five decades have been wasting tax payers’ money in unproductive administrative establishments and subsidies rather than investing in agriculture and productive sectors.

The political leadership has to ensure that [i] the Government should be both lean and efficient [ii] quality and composition of the staff to effectively improve the governance [iii] the governance must continuously be better and more responsive to people [iv] It must establish a rule-based system for implementing public policies.

It reminds us today what Sir Winston Churchill, war-time Prime Minister of England said, when Mr Clement Attlee, Prime Minister of United Kingdom in June 1947, introduced the Indian Independence Act in the British Parliament. Sir Winston Churchill said: “Power will go onto the hands of rogues, rascals, freebooters; all Indian leaders will be of low calibre and men of straw… They will fight amongst themselves for power and India will be lost in political squabbles.” Perhaps Dr. Rajendra Prasad in his speech in the Constituent Assembly on the eve of the adoption of the Constitution aptly emphasized, among others, “India needs today nothing more than a set of honest men who will have the interest of the country before them…”

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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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