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3 Major Situations Where The Modi Government Doesn’t Seem To Be On The Right Path

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By Parul Assudaney:

Narendra Modi and his party fought the Lok Sabha Elections 2014 under many a different campaigns, but the most important of them and the one that caught people’s attention was “acche din aane wale hai”. Now that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has completed 100 days in office, people are wondering when those “acche din” are going  to come. I say this because in the last 100 days, the government has seen itself surrounded by some controversies and decisions that they took which had some people raise their eyes and question their intentions of fulfilling the promises they made during the Lok Sabha polls.

Here is an assessment of 3 major situations where they have gone wrong:

Revamping Education in India

Smriti Irani started her work as the Minister of Human Resource Development by announcing plans to give a “Hindu perspective” to school curriculum. Though, instead of it looking like an idea of her own, it looked like an RSS project. RSS has always been wary of foreign influence in the textbooks and in favour of including an Indian perspective to the education system so as to promote “patriotism”.

Many people expressed their fears over this ‘communalisation’ of the education system by making schoolchildren study Indian mythology as facts rather than subjecting them to scientific scrutiny and research.

Also, in the Union Budget 2014, Finance Minister Arun Jaitely promised the setting up of five IITs, five IIMs and four AIIMS. But, there has been no mention of improving the quality of education, which has always been more about rote learning than skill-based or practical learning.

The government also garnered some controversies when the Health Minister expressed reservations about introduction of sex education in schools. In his vision document for Delhi schools, Vardhan, himself a doctor, has said, “So-called ‘sex education’ (should) to be banned.”

A Clean Government

On 27th August, 2014, the Supreme Court of India advised the Prime Minister and Chief Minister of States not to include chargesheeted persons facing trial in the Cabinet. The Bench asked “whether a person who has come in conflict with law would be in a position to conscientiously discharge his functions as Minister when his integrity is questioned and whether a person with doubtful integrity can be given the responsibility.”

Reports have shown that over 12 leaders in the Modi Government have criminal cases under their names.

A 24 year old woman who claims to have been raped 3 years ago by Union Minister Nihal Chand Meghwal asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for two minute of his time and requested him not to include Meghwal in the Cabinet.

In the recent days, PMO was seen denying allegations levelled against Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s son for alleged misconduct. Reacting to the development, Congress spokesperson Rajeev Gowda said, “We would like to know what are these allegations that have made the country’s home minister so upset… What has caused the Prime Minister’s Office to respond with such an alacrity. The country should know what is going on between a senior Cabinet minister and the government.”

Clean India and Green India

Modi wants his government to function on the agenda of development, to bring in economic reforms. But that development cannot be successful at the cost of the environment, which is what has been happening – relaxing or quashing of environmental laws to pave the way for economic growth.

Modi’s proposal to duplicate Sabarmati riverfront project on Yamuna river in Delhi received strong criticism from environmentalists who felt that such a decision will “kill the river”, like the Sabarmati in Ahemedabad. C R Babu, DU professor emeritus and chairman of the state-level expert appraisal committee, has advised the lieutenant governor and the capital’s bureaucrats against replicating the Sabarmati project. In a report addressed to Najeeb Jung and environment secretary Sanjiv Kumar, Babu has said that the Sabarmati is not a river rejuvenation project but an urban development one. “There is no Sabarmati river. It’s stagnant water with concrete walls on two sides. The floodplains have been concretized to make pathways and real estate projects. It cannot be replicated for our Yamuna,” Babu had told The Times of India.

The government also stated that it is contemplating changes in the land acquisition law to make it “more flexible”, a move which could help in kick starting the stalled projects. Finance Minister Arun Jaitely, while addressing a press conference to mark 100 days of the NDA government, said, “when I say flexibility, I have in mind a slight enlargement of the exemptions”, which can make it more industry friendly than people friendly. The various proposed amendments to the Land Acquisition Act range from scrapping the “consent clause” for Public Private Partnership (PPP) projects to narrowing the definition of “affected families” eligible for rehabilitation and resettlement.

In keeping with industry’s expectations, the environment ministry has also eased the clearance process for coal mines. The move to ease norms for expansion of coal mines is intended to benefit miners and increase output. The ministry has decided to extend the exemption from holding public hearings for the expansion of coal mining projects with annual production capacity of up to 8 million tonnes, which activists feel will not go down well with the locals.

While 100 days in office may be too short to judge, but these 100 days do show the intentions and the path the government is heading towards. All eyes are on Modi’s Government and they need to make true of their promises to the public of India.

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  1. Subhajit Biswas

    Well researched and written Parul. Fourth major situation in my view would be the deepening polarization in our society and the mute silence by the PMO, who in other instances had been very quick to react (as in the Rajnath Singh’s case). Not reigning in absurd and anti-nationalistic comments by someone like Yogi Adityanath clearly shows that BJP is trying its level best to unite Hindus against Muslims for the upcoming assembly elections in UP and other states and thereby destroying the fabric of our country. Fifth situation would be the absolute disregard of the govt in ignoring the linguistic diversity of the country, where it had tried and at the same time also encouraged some elements to force Hindi among all Indians.

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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 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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