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Top Issues And Agendas That Major Political Parties Are Trying To Woo You With

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By Deepak Venkateswaran:

election2014With the battlefield all set to witness the fight for power in the world’s biggest democracy, there are a lot of issues that play the x-factor in determining the results and the fate of India for the next 5 years. The coming election has the unique distinction of being fought on solid grounds and issues pertaining to development; infrastructure; economy; defence and so on unlike the previous ones that were fought on caste, religion and polarized issues. Here are few of the issues and agendas that the major parties are trying to woo voters with:

Indian National Congress:

1) While INC the traditional party of India is betting on the issues of secularism and upliftment of backward castes; their minority vote bank policies still seem to have some scope for them.
2) Creation of Telangana the 29th state in India really doesn’t give a clear picture whether the INC will benefit from it or get adversely affected by it.
3) INC has tried to give a picture that a number of youth leaders are entering the fray this time with Pilot, Scindia etc. being given important positions.
4) The top layer of INC still talks about how well the UPA has fared in its governance though the country has seen the worst of governance in last 10 years with the parliament being the least efficient since independence.
5) Curbing corruption (the RTI act and Jan Lokpal bill) is one issue INC has been talking continuously on even though their government has been involved in the biggest scandals India has ever seen.

However, the campaign Chief Rahul Gandhi has not really gone aggressive over his campaign, especially on social media that is believed to be a game changer.

The INC campaign, in spite of trying to address a wide range of issues has faced a drubbing, and only time will tell whether the voters of India are convinced by their assurances that have turned out to be largely false since 2009.

Bharatiya Janata Party:

1) The principal opposition party has made its shift from Hindutva to its “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas” (development of all sections) ideology. Promising a corruption free and accountable government they have set foot in the Kurukshetra of Indian politics.
2) Revamp of the economic situation-especially since the UPA has failed miserably on this front and NaMo’s track record has been exceedingly good in Gujarat; BJP has an upper edge on this front.
3) The issue of price rise and inflation is another area where BJP has left no stone unturned in voicing the woes of the common man, and questioning the present government about its actions.
4) Defence and security is another area where BJP promises better performance , and the increasing number of infiltrations and intrusions in the UPA regime have led to discontent among the people and the brave stance of Vajpayee during 1999 Kargil war is something that BJP can bank upon.
5) The creation of more jobs, SEZs and technology hubs is one promise by NaMo that has helped him connect extensively with the youth. With the idea of a vision document and the 5 T’s (talent, technology, trade, tourism, tradition) Narendra Modi recently proposed in a rally, BJP has one innovative card up its sleeve.
6) NaMo no doubt has completely taken BJP by storm with revamping the entire scenario and bringing in more than 80 new faces and shuffling the process of ticket distribution; with the creation of Telengana, an issue supported for long by BJP and a possible alliance with TDP, the prospects of benefitting in Seemandhra seem bright for them.

It is no doubt that the vision Modi has set for India is very well being reflected in his campaign, and the way he connects with the crowd ( which is remarkably huge for each rally ) is getting a clear visibility among the voters .

Aam Aadmi Party:

A party that has surprised all with its exponential rise and acceptance amongst voters in Delhi and Haryana especially. It sure has startled both the major national parties and especially UPA which had taken people of India for granted after its comeback in 2009.

However the two agendas AAP has taken up for its fight is Corruption and its determination to defeat all the big names in Indian politics. The AAP top leadership has made sure that it spared no one in finding faults and criticizing their governance. Kejriwal, it seems, has made it his daily mantra to criticize Modi everywhere (especially since he does not have any record except that short 49 day period in Delhi), and his mission to stop Modi from coming to power.

AAP is however poised to win over the voters who are frustrated at the way UPA handled the affairs last term. And only time will tell how much vote share of each party they can eat into.

Regional Parties:

Besides the three national players, a number of regional parties have also come up with local issues in addition to the ones mentioned above. JD(U) and Nitish Kumar are voicing their demand for special status to Bihar; JVM (P) is doing something similar in Jharkhand; The GJM is standing for a separate state of Gorkhaland; and so on.

This election is definitely worth watching out for, as all the parties have taken up some really solid and credible issues. There is not much time left as the beginning of May shall make it clear which party and whose issues are the mandate of voters.

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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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