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4 Things You Should Know About The Man Who Might Be Maharashtra”s New CM

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By Abhishek Jha:

The emergence of a young leader always arouses curiosity. While parties have youth wings to woo young people into following them, one hardly sees these young people rise to prominence early in their life. Young leaders attract the attention of the youth and have to bear the burden of expectations of the otherwise politically ignorant person too. The constant public scrutiny requires that the leader works with integrity and delivers on her/his promises. When Akhilesh Yadav took power in Uttar Pradesh, people hoped for a better future from a leader who was seen as well educated, modern, and tech-savvy. People will have similar expectations from Devendra Fadnavis who is taking control of a state mired in corruption. As he gears up to be the first BJP chief minister of Maharashtra, here are some interesting facts about him.


1. Early signs: Both teachers and childhood friends remember Fadnavis to be a “generous and respectful” person who “got on well with everybody easily” (source). Born to politically active parents (his father was an MLC from Nagpur and his mother was the Director of the Vidarbh Housing Credit Society), he took to politics early in his life. Associated with the RSS since childhood, he became an ABVP member while in college. He soon went on to become the ward president of BJYM. He is the second-youngest person in India and the youngest in Nagpur to have become a mayor. He has had an untainted record as a politician and is seen as an honest and humble person by one and all.

2. Political career: He rose fast through the ranks in the BJP. From being a ward president of BJYM, he went on to become Nagpur city president in 1992, state vice president in 1994, and national vice president in 2001. He is currently the president of BJP Maharashtra. Besides being the mayor from 1997 to 2001, he was also a member of the Nagpur Municipal Corporation from 1992 to 2001. He has remained the MLA from Nagpur since 1999. At just 44, he has had a string of successes as a politician. Having worked his way up from the grassroots, he is a seasoned politician. Even though a rift seemed to appear recently between Fadnavis and his mentor Gadkari over the post of Chief Minister, reconciliation seems to have been reached. He is clearly a favourite with the party leadership and also with the RSS where his father was a pracharak.

3. The scholar Fadnavis: A law graduate from Nagpur University, he went on to do a post-graduate degree in Business Management. He also has a diploma in Methods and Techniques of Project Management from D.S.E Berlin. He continues to use his education to this day and analyses the national budget every year. Besides, he has also published a book titled ‘How To Understand & Read State Budget‘. Adjudged ‘best speaker’ in National Inter University Debate, one may expect more rational argumentation from him than most political leaders in the country. Addressing a rally in Nagpur earlier this month, Fadnavis- who has the honour of winning the ‘Best Parliamentarian Award’ by the Commonwealth Parliamentarian Association- was lauded by the prime minister for being an “aware and alert Parliamentarian” (source) He is a regular participant in conferences on environmental issues across the globe. While quite a few politicians boast of degrees from abroad, it is his continuing engagement with issues in which he has had academic interest that sets him apart.

4. Activism: Fadnavis has been a vocal critic of the state government’s indifference to the problems of Vidarbha, a region plagued by lack of development and frequent farmer suicides. In August, he even promised a separate budget for farmers. His activism seems to go beyond what would be construed as vote-bank politics. When CPCB tried to dispose toxic waste from Union Carbide’s Bhopal plant in Maharashtra, he argued against it in the Assembly (source). This amalgamation of scientific methods and his knowledge, with his activist tendencies, might propel him to greater heights if he continues to work as he has done so far.

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  1. Mukesh

    And no mention of the criminal cases registered against him ? Is this really a complete picture ?

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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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