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9 Most Respected Indian Politicians Since Independence

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By Sneha Roychoudhury:

“At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance”

Indian flag

And thus was declared our nation independent, establishing the largest democracy (one looked upon with cynicism by the international community) and the foreground for intense political power-play and years of democratic manoeuvring. Pundit Nehru’s clarion call to the nation, in the wee hours of 15th August 1947, set into motion the wheels of a gigantic machinery, one we have come to recognise as the Indian political forum, one which is a marriage of the aware and the unaware, the shrewd and the naive, the enlightened and the orthodox, it is a kaleidoscope of a variety of political ideology, woven craftily into the country’s very own fabric. And etched on the edifices that stand tall amongst all the organised pandemonium of India’s eventful post-colonial history are some names, some statesmen who gave the nation its shape, gave its stance a posture and its ideals a dynamic approach.

Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru
He had conceived an India in his dreams, a nation he wished to watch rise, wished to nurse and nurture with the values and ideals of his imagination. He was a dreamer, and at times he blundered, but most times he was a visionary, for he had conceived an India in his dreams. Every time the page dedicated to this man, in our highly held (and a little worn with use) history books, comes up, one is torn between admiration and aversion. For me Nehru was a man with far-sight, and though all his techniques could not be directed to that effect, his earnestness towards the country was fairly reflected in his very vocal opinions and clear perspective.

Morarji Desai
There is always a seat in the foyers of history for a man who changes trends in Indian politics. And to lead a coalition into victory against the “blue bloods” of Indian nation-building can be no less than a mighty feat, achieved with much prowess and efficiency. This man extended his hands to make a change towards a better tomorrow that looked and hoped for international stability and better relations with our hostile neighbours. A man of vision in his own right, Desai was a man who knew the better for the massive nation he was leading.

Sardar Vallabhai Patel
With great power comes great responsibility. Who could be held as a better example in the case than the man who spearheaded some of the most important stands of India on a national and international level? Sardar Patel has been a strong driving force behind the Indian State in more ways than one. His manoeuvring and diplomacy with regard to the Instrument of Accession has defined our country’s political and territorial identities. The man who preferred to remain out of the political “lime-light”, was the mind and the will behind India’s zeal to rise above its devils of regional divide and hatred.

P.V. Narasimha Rao

The “Father of Indian economic reforms”, as he was known, Narasimha Rao was a man who believed and endorsed change in the declining economic sector of India. In amongst the growing angst of the Indian decline as an economy, this man led India into a radical and dynamic shift of policies- one that moved rather away from the then prevailing norms. With Manmohan Singh’s insight in the North Block of the Secretariat, Rao attempted to design for India a much more effective economy than it had had in years. The leadership required for such major steps to be taken carves him in the stones of India’s memory.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee
Every once in a while, there emerges a tide in the wave of history that brings with it the wake of greatness, glory and a silent recognition of someone who brings positive change in every which way possible. To India, this man was such. Being elected to the Parliament for some ten odd times, this man rose from rank to rank and chaired the Prime Minister’s office for a rather successful term indeed. A rough start marked the beginning of what became a strong and stabilising rule in India, giving it the much needed direction at that time.

Pranab Mukherjee
Veterans have an aura about them. They are power-holders with a certain prestige that only years of pioneering and experience can deliver. This is such a man. The current President of India has to his credit a lifetime of dedication and service to this country’s roller-coaster ride of a political past. Having held various port folios for the Government and then been named the President proves that the man, one of the masses, belongs in the league of the surviving and trusted politicians of Indian socio-political spectrum.

Jyoti Basu
They say that only the dead have seen the end of war. But, when we see this man and read of his struggle, we’re not sure how true that is. He has seen the end of a war. He has in fact seen the end of quite a few wars, he has travelled from one field of battle to another, undaunted, unflinching, letting the spirit of his soul enlighten the darkest of times in the state and the land he called his own. Ideologically driven, Basu lead West Bengal, under the adapted doctrines of Marxism for twenty-three years and whether for better or for worse, was an integral part and an entwined name in the Indian framework.

Jayaprakash Narayan
“Let me say… that the true revolutionary is guided by great feelings of love.”– Che Guevara

How can words possibly describe a man with such love in his heart, an unmatched dedication and loyalty guiding him and inspiring him to stand up for what he believed was the best for his nation? To have risen above an established norm in a nation seething with pain and anguish, to have questioned and have steered for a difference, sets this man apart and renders him eminent on a scale and pedestal, deifying all his contribution- for men like this help the masses realise a zeal they had not believed existed.

E M Sankaran Namboodiripad
The first ever political leader to have led a communist party to power, in a popular election, in India, EMS Namboodiripad has been a stalwart in the politics of Kerala for a very long time in public memory. A pioneer in the field of promoting education among all classes of society, and hence taking a step in the direction of his Marxist ideologies, some of his policies became bench-marks for various parts of India in the years to come.

In the end, I would like to say that such lists are always inevitably subjective, and our political views all being personal opinions can hardly ever be the same as another. Please feel free to add to my list. I wish to leave my reader with some very precious lines, a lesson we all must learn from the lives of these men, men who have fought and held their own in the darkest of times.

“In the world’s broad field of battle
In the bivouac of life
Be not like dumb driven cattle
Be a hero in the fight.”
– H. W. Longfelow.

You must be to comment.
  1. Prabha

    Good selection and well analysed!

  2. Nipumoni pathak

    it should be change for Assam. Hope so Next the BJP allience will be able to rule the state .

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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.

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.

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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 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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