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Is AAP Really The Alternative We Seek Or Is It Just Populist Adventurism?

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By Anshika Srivastava:

2013 was truly a momentous time in the history of Indian democracy. A milestone that completely revolutionized ‘power play’. Well, it’s far too early to say anything at a national level, but certainly for Delhi. AAP’s stellar performance in the 2013 state elections, out manoeuvring the conventional veterans of the game —‘Cong’ and ‘BJP’ was an eye opener, a testimony to the fact that we wanted change. A political system that truly in it’s sense was ‘of the people, by the people and for the people’.


Though there are many who outrightly discredit APP for a diverse reasons, but lets not forget to acknowledge them for the mass support they have mustered and the change they have brought in the realm of Indian politics, and that too in such a short span of time! I’m not here to reiterate the successful saga of Aam Aadmi Party but their achievements are worth considering.

It’s old news, the new ‘masala’ the media is pouncing on like hungry ravenous dogs is the controversies, malicious rumours (some facts) about the AAP leaders, the recent ‘dharna’, reckless policies etc. Newspapers, tabloids and T.V. channels are flooded with them, leaving the common man perplexed and in a state of quandary. Hearing or reading about the controversies that have risen up against AAP suddenly over the past few weeks makes us question our decision and the integrity of the party, which so vociferously fought against the evils of the other parties.

Maybe our hopes and expectations were too high and that has left us disenchanted and dejected. Aam Aadmi Party’s recent debacle at the political front has left the people baffled and dubious about AAP’s true intentions and promises to make a better government. It’s no different than the unethical and corrupt parties it fought against.

Since he was sworn in as the youngest Chief Minister of Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal has made some reckless and impulsive decisions, for example — the ‘ Jantar Darbar’ incident where approximately 3,000 -4,000 of AAP supporters turned up, creating a mayhem and near stampede situation, or lets go the more prominent and recent one – the ‘dharna’ led by Kejriwal against Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde demanding executive authority over the Delhi Police which led to the disruption of routes and gridlocked traffic jam causing a lot of nuisance for everyday commuters. That’s not how a CM behaves. We truly understand Arvind’s desire to make it a more ‘people oriented government’ and outrightly fight against injustices. But in actuality, its marked by a strong sense of vigilantism .

Its only been a month and in the light of current events, it looks like Aam Aadmi Party’s political career will end even before it takes off properly.

AAP is engulfed in an array of controversies. It’s accused of being racist and sexist which is evident from Kumar Vishwas’s derogatory comments on nurses from Kerala. An FIR was also charged against him for making profane statements that hurt the religious sentiments of a community. Somnath Bharti’s raid at Khirki extension, where people from the African community reside and which according to him is a hub of drug and prostitution, was also alleged of assaulting African women. His abhorrent actions and taking the law in his hands was highly condemned by the public and the opposition party, which is now demanding his arrest. Inspite of all this, Arvind Kejriwal refuses to take any serious action against his minister, which I feel is utterly disgraceful of AAP.

The list goes on, another example is where Bhushan’s statement on Kashmir and related security matters was profoundly criticised by all, including his party members. With the route that AAP has taken, it looks more of stupidity and foolishness than them being naive and inexperienced in the game of politics.

Another drawback is AAP’s lack of a coherent ideology. In an interview, Yogendra Yadav denied that the party was socialist and said “binaries of 20th century, either Left or Right do not make sense”, this disregard for any ideology can have ruinous consequences as history has already proved. An ideology is extremely crucial for any party because without it, there will just be unrest and anarchy.

As there are always two sides to a coin and the situation here is the same. The rumours that we hear about AAP could be true or baseless. It can all be a political gimmick to gain power or they can be innocent victims of shrewd and cunning tactics of BJP, which is threatened by the bourgeoning popularity of the Aam Aadmi Party.

The reality is distorted; newspapers and various new channels do get you the information but the way they present and what they present makes a lot of difference. And why not? Everyone has their own thinking, opinion and ideology that may influence their take on the society or any political matter.

I think that is one of the greatest advantage of a democracy, you have a variety of opinions leading to deeper comprehension of any situation from all aspects for the good of all citizens.

I’ll end with saying just one thing, I guess we are too early to judge AAP without giving it a true chance to exhibit their worthiness. I mean we gave the Congress 128 years, BJP 34 years and the Aam Aadmi Party just 1 month. That is unfair!

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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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