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India Needs A Better Class Of Politicians And I Will Give It To Them- The Non Partisan Indian

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By Vishal K:

With assembly elections in 4 states underway and General election-2014 looming large, the world of Indian politics is seeing unprecedented activity. Rallies, information campaigns, mis-information campaigns, sting operations and high on adrenaline slogans are reinforcing my belief that this is going to the most polar slugfest in the history of Indian democracy. As a commoner, I am experiencing a broad spectrum of emotions seeing the developments every day. One day, the universal chorus against the corrupt forces gives me a new hope. It seems as if the middle class has finally found its voice and is going to make the public figures accountable. Even before I can convince myself, I get despondent seeing the new political participants fight allegations of corruption and people killing each other in the name of religion. The torrid memories of 90’s vicious cycle come rushing back where leaders were leveraging their power to make money and using the same money to come to power again. I start feeling that though we are moving at a fast clip, there is no clear direction and we are going round and round on the same path. Hence, the obvious question that we need to ask ourselves is which India should we trust more? The one wherein thousand gathered on the street of Delhi to protest against the atrocities on a young girl OR the one where hundreds of people died in communal clashes because another young girl dared to love a man not belonging to her religion? Is it the path of salvation we are traveling on OR have we put ourselves on a road to perdition?


Everyone will have their own versions of the current story but the eternal optimist in me makes me believe that we are witnessing a once in a lifetime phenomenon. The world today may be extremely chaotic with scandalous stories breaking out every day but if you observe the chaos closely, patterns would start to emerge. You would see that certain things are not working anymore and new players are forcing their way in to the traditional dynamics. The equilibrium of money and power has been disturbed by this generation and every time you disturb a finely balanced equilibrium, structures would fall and you would see chaos before the dust settles down and a better world beckons. Something similar is happening in the world of Indian politics and bureaucracy. I don’t believe that suddenly, today’s leaders are more dishonest than their predecessors. In fact, nepotism has always been an integral part of power corridors in India. I think what has changed is the attitude of resurgent India towards them.

This is the RTI- empowered generation who are ready to take on the “Sahibs” and “Mantri-Jee”. Huge penetration of digital platforms and social media is making sure that you don’t need to have “right contacts” and “money” to raise voice against the malpractices and gather support. “Trending” and “video gone viral” are the buzzwords which are deciding the agenda of prime time shows on national television. Who would have dreamt a year back that race to be the Delhi CM will be a three way race? A certain Kejriwal with zero political experience and not much money will be able to challenge the highest authorities from both the leading parties? I don’t belong to the cohort which has pinned all its hopes on AAP to bring in a political renaissance in Indian political system but I am absolutely sure that it has definitely set the cat among the pigeons.

Good healthy competition is always good for any system and AAP would keep accountability on behalf of ruling parties as the main focus in coming months. Irrespective of how many seats AAP gets in assembly elections, the political pundits must salute the spirit of those thousands of volunteers who have left their flourishing careers to present an alternative to people of Delhi. India’s political system is a classic example of Newton’s Third Law with one caveat that there is an opposite and unequal (manifold) reaction to every external attempt to break in to the political system. Having said it that, I think it is wonderful time to be in Indian policy space wherein new leaders with cleanest of credentials will not only rise and shine but will also create a system that will inspire the 700 million young Indians to shed their inhibitions and engage with the state in a more organized way.

Leaders like Jay Panda, Dr Ajoy Kumar, JP Narayan and Yogendra Yadav may have their difference of opinions on governance and policy issues but their larger goal will always be to build a better and stronger India. You may or may not agree with them on certain issues but you can never deny the fact that they have the potential to raise the level of public debate in this country. Professor Larry Diamond of Stanford University, while teaching Democratic Development, had once told me that in democracy, decisions are made by those who show up. Today, I do believe that more and more people are “showing up” not only at Ram Leela maidan and freedom park but also at polling booths in Mizoram and naxalite affected areas of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. May be, it is the time for new Indian heroes to rise and shine!!!

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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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