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Satyamev Jayate Appeals Voters To Change The Criminal Culture In Indian Politics. Will You?

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By Mayank Jain: 

Elections will give an opportunity to everyone to be a part of the process.We all expect a good leader when we go out to vote. Those who have saintly virtues including selflessness, honesty and fairness. This issue is most common of them all, but is hardly taken up once elected representatives assume office and people go out to vote again with imperfect knowledge and half-baked iron will, to not let criminal candidates come to power.

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Having a criminal candidate in a position where he determines the way we lead our lives by framing the laws for us is like appointing a devil to govern for the good. Association of Democratic Reforms has firmly stood against this since a long time. When they reached the courts to make disclosures necessary, 22 parties convened an all-party meeting to defy SC order and changed the Representation of People Act. They went to the court once again and the court upheld their point making the disclosures necessary which enable us to know the truth of a candidate from his own disclosures.

The statistics are horrific and troublesome. One in three candidates of Lok Sabha is tainted with some sort of case pending against him. Specifically, 162 out of 543 candidates have pending cases. The common rhetoric of political parties is that cases on their ministers are not severe or criminal in nature. Nothing could be farther from the truth since as many as 76 candidates have charges of murder, attempt to murder, kidnapping and robbery among others.

The disturbing fact is that the trend of appointing criminal candidates is on the rise as the number of such ministers has increased from 129 to 162 candidates from 2004 Lok Sabha to the 2009 Lok Sabha.

Candidates with criminal backgrounds can be found anywhere and everywhere. Every party harbours some percentage of criminals among their members. While BJP has 38% criminal candidates, Congress has 21%, Shiv Sena has 82% criminal candidates while parties like MDMK and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha have 100% criminal candidates.

Looking at legislative assemblies is not a pleasing sight either, since 1264 out of 4032 MLAs from legislative assemblies have cases pending against them while 27 MLAs in 2009 were given tickets despite of rape cases pending against them.

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To illustrate what politicians with criminal backgrounds can do, let us take the example of Bhaiyya Raja. Bhaiyya Raja had a 20 year girl killed with his plan when she threatened to testify against him because of his lecherous advances at her. There are serious 82 criminal offences against him already. As much as 115 cases have been lodged but no one came forward to testify against him. The lower court announced life sentence for him.

The shocking part: His relationship with the girl was that of maternal grandfather.

While we all shudder at the thought of going to testify against such people or speaking up against these powerful men; staying silent is no choice either. Lack of empathy and moral support for people who try to stand up and fight against injustice and anti-social elements rotting the society gives them power.

According to a former DGP of Bihar, D N Gautam, rule of law is replaced by rule of the devil when a criminal candidate comes to power. Cocktail of criminals, machinery, power, vicious money has become a deadly drink for the society.

“It takes one person to stand firmly against the wrongs.”

Similar story is that of Ajit Sarkar from West Bengal. He was a three time minister of CPI (M) from Purnia, Bihar. He was no less than a messiah of the people for his firebrand politics and he constantly took stands for the lesser privileged. In one instance as his son recounted, he didn’t attend the cricket match of his own son to make sure people don’t feel like he was promoting his own son. He never believed in campaigning and believed that his work is better than promotions.

14th June, 1998: He was found dead in his car with 107 bullets on his body. The accused was Pappu Yadav who Ajit Sarkar defeated in the last election. High Court let the accused go without any charges.

A researcher from Washington analyzed the probability of win for candidates and the results are shameful for all of us. A clean image candidate with no criminal case has only 7% probability of winning while 1 criminal case takes it to 19%. A candidate with 2 or more criminal cases on the other hand, can manage to win the election with a 25% probability.

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The reasons for such behaviour are clear too. We reward caste when we see other equally criminal candidates. Caste triumphs criminalization. Common man is very weak in front of the system. These candidates are the only hope for people in front of a vicious corrupted system that doesn’t reward honesty and harasses the meek at every step.

Former Election Commissioner S.Y. Qureshi highlighted this innovativeness very well by recounting instances of cash laden in ambulances to be delivered for elections. He emphasizes the sin of individualism as: “When everyone is worried about his own selfish interest, how can we ensure collective good?”

From fake marriage parties to water tankers laden with alcohol to be distributed; all are innovative ways of buying votes from people. This doesn’t however imply that the politicians are the only ones at fault. People are equally shameless and guilt free about taking goods, cash and gadgets from the prospective candidates in return for their votes. Demand creates supply and people’s demand for ‘something extra’ has led us to the current situation.

There have been zero convictions so far for malpractice by candidates which were unearthed by the EC. Karnataka government even tried to withdraw the cases against tainted candidates in order to set them free but Supreme Court intervened at the right moment.

Another expert highlighted the mess we have landed ourselves into, in the following words:
“We are the creators of the whole political system and ministers are our creations. We have sold our only right which is the right to vote.”

The time is right for all of us to take a stand and end the criminal culture once and for all. Let’s take a pledge to not let even a single criminal candidate win this election and close the doors of Parliament for anyone with a dubious background. When we don’t want our families and kids to become criminals, how can we let ourselves be ruled by the devil?

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  1. Sujith Kumar

    Greed is the cause of all evil. We need to impart education to people not to create good professionals, but to create good human beings.

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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.

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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.”

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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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