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Why Has A Film That Questions Religion Made The ‘Hindutvawadis’ So Uncomfortable?

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By Sanya Malik:

Mahatma Gandhi once said “God has no religion”. The need to challenge religious divisiveness and understand Gandhi is greater than ever in the present scenario. From the Peshawar killings to the religious conversions at home, religion is being used as a tool to instigate violence and oppress the minorities. The film PK exposes the manipulations of organized religion and it does that exceedingly well. It unmasks the hypocrisies inherent in the idea of religion, unlayering it only to discover there is no true essence of religion.

PK poster

We as a nation seem to have dumped the secularism of our constitution and are moving towards religious conservatism. Religion has become the centre of heated discussions where anyone/anybody who attempts to pull the curtains off religious orthodoxy is seen as anti-Hindu. In light of the current political mood, high on Hindutva rhetoric, PK seems to be extremely well timed to explore the hypocrisy of the institution of ‘religion’.

A day into its release, Twitter was set ablaze with cries of #boycottPK, criticising the movie for being “offensive” to Hinduism. However, quite soon, Aamir fans and secularists took to Twitter to show their support for the movie with the #WesupportPK hashtag. What this boils down to is the fact that as a group, we have started taking offence easily. Even a simple piece of art seems to “hurt” our religious sentiments. We have reached what one would call “The state of Hurt”. Hindutva supporters have gone as far as to filing a PIL against the movie director. These same Hindutvawadis protested demanding a ban on Haider earlier this year, or the ban of books like Wendy Doniger’s “The Hindus: An Alternative History”, creating another religion-centric discourse. The so called “gharwapsi” by conservative Hindus adds to the woes of the nation. At home, we have ministers like Niranjan Sadhvi walking free of regret even after instigating the “haramzada/ramzada” discourse.

The film has been criticised on grounds of showing Hinduism in a negative light. The movie critiques certain Hindu rituals as “symbols of irrationality and superstition”. According to some, it makes fun of Hindu Gods. Here, one must step out of the foggy vision of religious divisiveness and begin to consider the attack on Hinduism as a metaphor for an attack and unlayering of all religious blindness and superstition.

One must also consider that the movie attacks all blind faith irrespective of religion – conversions by Christian missionaries, and fatwas against education of girls by Islamic fundamentalists. It highlights the irrelevance of certain customs associated with each religion. In the role of a Shakespearean fool, this wide-eyed alien PK, unaware of religious customs, raises a simple question against poojas in temples, baptism in churches and rituals in dargahs – “if God could speak, would he rather you pour litres of milk on him, or instead give that same food to millions of starving children across the country”. As the alien, PK finds it hard to accept the ways of religion. He creates a ruckus at a temple and a church. However, the scene at a mosque shows him being shooed away as he tries entering with wine bottles in his hand. The movie shows a desperate Aamir Khan questioning every religion, maybe Hinduism gains greater prominence in the movie. However, as Kamlesh Singh notes, “It attacks Hinduism more directly than other religions because the story is based in India, 80% of which is Hindu.”

PK doesn’t give you answers served on a platter. It raises questions that make you think – the wide eyed alien PK (Aamir) questions everything, challenges the foundation of every concept you believed was unshakable. As the alien who lands naked from his planet, it is difficult for PK to understand the basis of the religious classification. He checks babies for a stamp, assuming they must be marked with the seal of their religion at birth. Failing to find one, he then derives that religion must be all about fashion. After all it is by the clothes and appearance that those around determine if a certain person is a Hindu or a Muslim.

Another allegation against the movie has been that it mocks Godmen and certain Hindu Gods. What the movie propagates instead is that God exists, Godmen shouldn’t. PK doesn’t question God and his existence but he does strongly condemn the farce marketed by the Godmen. In light of the recent Rampal and Asaram issues, the attack becomes even more interesting. These self proclaimed messengers of God find a sharp critique in the image of the “tapasviji” in PK. The movie exposes the distinction between a God-fearing and a God-loving society. The fear of God, espoused by religion finds echo in the statement “Jo darr gaya woh mandir gaya.”

Saffron ideologues like Francois Gautier have urged audiences to boycott the film because it depicts an inter-religious relationship. The plot line resonates with the fears that Hindutva groups have been expressing about the so-called love jihad theory: they claim that Muslim men are waging a campaign to court Hindu women, so that they can convert them to Islam. Even as Love Jihad remains a touchy subject in the country, PK depicts a Hindu girl falling in love with a Muslim boy from Pakistan.

The crux of the issue becomes obvious when one looks at the following Twitter comments. Even after decades of Aamir being a part of the Bollywood fraternity, he is seen as an outsider, “the other”. Our xenophobia towards Muslims becomes obvious when we question how Aamir, despite having married a Hindu, never dared to target Islam in the way he has attacked Hinduism.

The war between #BoycottPK and #WesupportPK continues. Hindutva supporters will continue to use religion as a weapon of violence. However, demanding a ban on works of art that question stereotypes and make you think beyond the normative defeats the whole purpose of a democracy. Every time a movie is banned, an artist dies, a democrat dies, a secular dies. But the fact that filmmakers continue to make such films is a clear sign of protest against religious orthodoxy. PK does not deserve to be banned, it is thought-provoking in its content, a departure from conservatism.

Also Read: PK Is Not An Extraordinary Film, But Here’s Why You Can’t Afford To Miss It In Times Like These

You must be to comment.
  1. Ashwati Vipin

    Exactly my thoughts and very nicely written, Sanya! Rather than focussing on the big picture of how these so-called Godmen take advantage of the public and are so dishonest in their ways, these people focus on how this film is supposedly anti-Hindu! Absolutely ridiculous. I thought the movie did really well in driving home the message that one must not just blindly follow religious practices. But instead one must question and critique the logic behind them when often there is none!

    1. Sanya Malik

      Thanks Ashwati, Glad you liked it! 🙂

    2. nagraj

      ashwati vipin, typical blind indian hindu sickular girl. what can we expect.

    3. Ashwati Vipin

      Nagraj, amazing how any opinion against your own doesn’t go down well with you! Do you honestly believe that there is nothing wrong with the way these Hindu Godmen practice religion? What about all those women they abuse and rape because they feel that they are invincible? What about all that money they take from people and give them the false hope that their problems will fix themselves? Just because the film attacks a Hindu Godman doesn’t automatically make it anti-Hindu. Perhaps you should open your mind and accept fault in the way people project and practice any religion these days. Being religious is a personal choice, nobody has the right to tell someone else what they should or should not believe. Live and let live. And also get your spellings right. Yes, I am a secular person and there is nothing wrong with it.

    4. nagraj

      Firstly do not try to correct my spellings. i purposefully used the word “sickular” instead of secular. Maybe u do not know that
      people like u r generally called “sickulars” and not seculars because they r sick. So increase ur general knowledge first
      so called hindu women like ur seriously hypocrite . so u want to say that only hindu godmen rape women? how many such cases
      have u seen ? The fact is u have no knowledge at all. Muslim godmen and christian godmen rape and abuse even more women
      than Hindu godmen. Muslim men marry 4 times and give divorce to their women by just uttering just three words. But women
      like u would never speak about that. There r muslim babas who take money from people and give them false promise.
      The thing is it is very easy to bash Hinduism for “SICKULAR” women like u. If u bash any other religion then u may get in to
      trouble which u obviously do not want. Why any film is not made on the bad things of other religions like islam and Christianity?
      not because it is hindu majority country but because if such films are made then there would mass protests and rioting and killing
      of those people who made such films. Just because Hindus r too tolerant they dare to make such films. Shame on u for advocating
      such films. But what can we expect from a “SICKULAR” like u.

  2. Anshul Jain

    In a society plagued with identity and religion based politics, a film like PK stands out among other works. Any Indian who feels proud of his/her country being a secular and democratic state would love PK for its argumentative stand on irrelevant religious practices prominent in all parts of India. It’s not the first time that such a topic has been stirred. Paresh Rawal starrer Oh My God was also based on similar lines. Also the movie is a good reflection of the present state of society, specially with respect to self proclaimed Godmen.

  3. Prashant

    I am against this fight of hashtag. But the the point which you raised are not true as you said “Hindutva supporters will continue to use religion as a weapon of violence”. Dear Sanya just have a broader aspect what is happening world around. Look at the level of fanaticism in which is no at that level in Hinduism. The people who makes violence actually they havent gone through ideology of Hinduism or Islam or other religion. PK is a movie which only aims to leave superstitions and live like a human being.
    At the point of conversion I would like to recommend following links, go through it look whats going on and what is the mentality behind it.
    http://joshuaproject.net/
    and please watch some videos of Dr. Zakir Naik

  4. Saurabh

    I failed to understand whether u are appraising the movie, the concept or again criticising one of the religion

  5. sameer

    Saniya, kudos to u to write such a bold article. No matter what Hinduvta sanghis may try to polarise our society but still 70% of Indians still believe in the secular fabric of our constitution who have not voted for communal BJP.

    Any religious fanatics will try to shut the mouth of the critics of religion, be it Hinduvta or Islamists or Christian Evangelists……they are one and all same….they never value the freedom of expression when it comes to their religion…….

    u would find sanghis making hue and cry when Islamists try to ban Salman Rushdie or Taslima Nasrin…….those same sanghis will stop a great painter like M. F. Hussain to come to India even or the recent ban on the books on Hinduism……all religious fanatics are hypocrites……

    Hinduism is not Hinduvta what sanghis are propagating….Hinduism is something that allows worshipping d way people want to……those sanghis are trying to make Hinduism an organised religion like Christianity and Islam which would prove to be disaster for Hinduism……..

    Instead of trying to ban conversion, why don’t they retrospect themselves as to why Hindus, specifically dalits and lower castes converted to Islam or Christianity? First abolish the casteism from the Hindu society……ask those dalits who converted, u will come to know the main reason of conversion is not money but the social status that they never have enjoyed being in the umbrella of Hinduism…..they have not been allowed in the temple for ages……the recent incident of disallowing a CM of a state in a temple because of his being dalits……if a CM can be treated like this, it can easily be assumed what those dalits must be going through in our society……..sanghi RSS men have never been in support of abolishing the caste system from Hindu society……….

    How hard those sanghis may try but India will remain a secular democratic country because majority of Indian, be it Hindu, Muslim, Christian or any other religious group, still believe in secularism, tolerance to all faiths which is the main fabric of our society and it is there in the blood of majority of Indians…..

  6. Shruti Besan

    Well we had similar protest in India from the Christian community when DA Vinci code was released and “non-violent” Muslim issue fatwas in India on regular basis against anything that comes closer to hurting their sentiments. Why just side line the “violent” hindus. Hypocrisy all around 🙂

  7. bhargav

    sanya, kudos to u for this bold piece of work.
    1) debate should b about hypocrisy in religions and not religion vs religion.
    2)p.k doesn raise question on existence of god r even religion, it just questions the “godmen” and their “solutions”.
    3) moreover if ppl are hurt they wont watch movie , why this hue and cry?
    4) simply shutting down these kinda movies and books , s nothing short of the fanaticisim of taliban.

  8. nagraj

    oh sania malik , we know that u are a staunch muslim girl who will always support the muslim men no matter what they do and no matter how badly they treat u.
    and by the way why they did not show hindu man in love with a pakistani muslim girl, why they did not insult islam and its god in the film? the reason is simple. if they had spoken anything against islam, all the people associated with that film would have been cut into pieces by the people of ‘religion of peace’ lol.

    1. Sanya Malik

      Hi Nagraj, Thanks for judging me on the basis of my name. Let me break it to you right away- I am not a “Muslim”. I am as much a Hindu as you are. I come from a Punjabi family. As for your comment about me being ” a girl who will support (Muslim) men no matter how badly they treat women. Here’s a little eye-opener for you, I am a staunch believer of feminism who condemns any form of discrimination against women. Also, the whole point of the article is simple- Stop looking at religions as separate. What it does is create imaginary boundaries between people who are otherwise alike. This is critiqued in the scene from the movie where Aamir checks a newborn for a stamp of religion. The idea behind religion is always same- be it Hinduism, Islam, Christianity. Also, I am trying to critique the distorted version of religion we are using today, often visible when works of art are banned. As I mentioned even in the article, the reason why Hinduism has been targetted is because India is a country with Hindu majority. I am in no way stating that Islam and Christianity or any other religion is any less divisive.

    2. donniedarko

      Are you sure idea behind every religion is the same? I’m not sure if you have studied any religious texts.

    3. Madhawi

      You are right sanya

    4. nagraj

      If ur a hindu and supporting such movies like PK instead of condemning them then there is certainly a big problem with u.
      secular (sickular) people like u can go to any extent to please the people from other religion and are always ready to criticize their own
      religion. Would any muslim use a word like “islamists” for muslims fundamentalists just like u used the word “hindutvawids”
      the thing is people like u are just namesake hindus nothing else. I have never seen secular women like u criticising the religious fundamentalists
      from other religions. Maybe because it is easy to criticize hindus . The other religion people would come after u and make ur life hell
      so yes it is a easy route. Bash your own religion people and become a “heroine” in the eyes of people from other religion.
      and lastly i do not believe in this theory of feminism. Feminists women r hell bent on destroying the Indian society. Their demands
      and their crying just does not stop. Behave like a normal human being and not like a feminist and if ur really interested in feminism
      then go to other countries and help those women who really need it (mostly islamic countries). I have never seen a feminist women who has
      guts to speak against the islamic fundamentalist men.

  9. nagraj

    oh it seems u did not post my comments sania malik or should i call u sania mirza ? lol
    no freedom of speech for majority hindus in India?
    u seem hypocrite to me as expected

  10. vishal

    THis is not hardcore hindu which don’t like PK but also moderate hindu also feel bad after viewing the movie..So criticizing the movie through social channels doesn’t make anyone extremist…Moreover I think Aamir own religion need reforms then hindu’s

    Few Important Lessons after watching movie PK , however title should have been AH (Anti Hinduism) :

    1. Hinduism is the only religion having all wrong and unreal cultures.
    2. Hinduism is non-sense as we worship god , rest others are full of sense.
    3. The only fraud saints exist in Hinduism.
    4. A movie with religion superstitions can only be based by cursing Hinduism.
    5. Showing the ugly side of religions other than Hinduism can be of just few seconds to avoid controversy.
    6. Love Jihad Promotion to the fullest.
    I am still okay with the movie but the question stands if Hinduism is the only religion having all these wrong rituals and cultures ??? and rest others are crystal clear ?? Why cant that bastard show up the wrong practices in other religion to make an eye opener movie for the society ?? , what i can conculde is ” a ____ is always a ____ “

    1. Sri

      What else he does not have balls to address the real issues in his own religion…. he knows he can still stay alive and make his money in this country. by saying nonesense and circasm about hinduism….pathetic….it is not “satyameva jayate” any more……

  11. Sri

    Hindutva supports using religion as a violence? Haha joke of an article …meaningless. Either you are not aware of who real perpetratorsof religious violece ( ISIS, LET, etc etc?) or choose to be blind to it. Why has he left the real issues in hisown religion… and made fun of another faith ….without knowing any damn thing about hinduism? Just he does not have the balls

    While the west is now recognizing the greatness of out culture, the values and amazing discoveries ….sadly we will still choose to be ignorant as long as these kind of thoughts are propagated

  12. Deva

    This article reeks of hatred and subconscious manipulation.

    1) Author says “we have started taking offence easily” then why is the author taking offence of “haramzaada”? What about her freedom of speech? HYPOCRITE
    2) How many people died from RE-conversion? Don’t put Peshawar attacks and RE-conversion events in same light. DEVIOUS and DECEITFUL
    3) Xenophobia towards Muslims? Salman Khan is adored! Is Aamir Khan too holy to be questioned? Don’t drag in Aamir’s religion to save your argument. PATHETIC
    4) Every time a movie is banned an artist dies? Why again was “Innocence of Muslims” banned? Da Vinci Code? Why fatwas and death threats to Salman Rushdie? PROPAGANDIST
    5) God fearing huh? It is ironic that fear of judgement day, fear of God is taught in some religions, while Vedic religions have no such concepts.
    6) Love jihad is a “touchy subject” huh? No concern for girls raped and forcefully converted if the girls are Hindu? Why don’t you tell people why Hindu families are fleeing from Pakistan?

    Since when is critiquing a movie a “weapon of violence”? And RAPING and MURDERING Yazidi women is peaceful?

    But you are right. Art should not be banned. Even when it offends Muslims and Christians or any religion for that matter. Just don’t selectively favour them.

    Present counter arguments. Don’t escape by terming “anti-hindu”.

  13. dilip

    Why someones so called religious sentiments doesn’t hurts when a someone beg on the road in getup of lord shiva, ganesh , ram etc.. Why it hurts when a alien chase one of such men in gods getup because that alien thought that he is real-god because alien could not digest the fact that the god whom people of this ‘gola’ (Earth) worship in so big temples someone could makeup god’s getup to beg on road.
    Why their sentiments dont hurt when shopkeeper sales the gods statue making alien a fool. Why it didnt hurt them when PK locked his slipper so it cant get theft is that also not truth , that temples are the top of the places where people loose their best & worst shoes/slipper. So many things more to say. why their sentiments didnt hurts when a godmen get caught sexually harassing little girls , why not when a godman caught so many people socalled his followers in private ashram. why not when the truth came out that the milk which was used to cook prashad was first used by that godman to take bath..

  14. vibhore

    I have seen pk … But some questions from the begging.. Hindu girl can marry Muslim men but a Muslim man can have 4 to 5 wives at a time y not shown ….hipocracy.. SATYA Evan jayete.. So many episodes on women but .. Not a single one on UNIFORm CIVIL COD..dibble standards.. If u can’t say all Muslims terrorists then every baba. ..how will be same as asharam or ram pal plz answer.. And plz don’t delete it.. I have taken a screen shot beware

  15. vibhore

    I m not a gud writer BT to point out hindutva .. The meaning of hindutva is completly different frm the way media ..believe it or not go and search on Google .. Sry to offend BT is Dania malik is a left wing editor just like NDTV -nehru dynasty TV ha ha communist Marxist channel and khangress channel ..and abt Rss know there aachievement 1st durning natural calamities.. What Nehru and apj Abdul kalam told abt Rss

  16. vibhore

    Last but not the least abt the ban of the movie and personally I am not in favour of banning BT why was Da Vinci cod banned by Khangress ..sphere. Double standards

  17. Sunanda

    With all due respect, I can’t consciously or subconsciously ignore the fact that movie majorly targets Hindu temples, practices, logic of worship and religious thought process. It is true that movie shows all religions and criticises some fundamental points do each of them. However when it comes to Hinduism it just does not seem to like anything about it. Personally I am no hindutwadi or whatever people choose to call them. Neither do I believe to be a strong fundamentalist or think that I need to protect my faith. I live in the same world and as we all know if we start comparing religions, this is the only faith which u can question, complain and it gives you all liberalism. That is the single reason that any one can make a movie joking and abusing it. What however is saddening is that other religions which have the history and present status of cutting people to pieces on any disobedience, mass killing to prove their valour, female slavery in generations, terrorism on the name of god have not been accused of any problem except one or utmost two.

    I can’t understand the whole plot which shows first the Muslim from Pakistan untrustworthy and then shows it was got to be a misunderstanding. What is that supposed to prove in a movie which shows one religion baseless and untrustworthy?

    I don’t disagree that the present interpretation of Hindu religion has gone a little misunderstood and why should it not be it is the among the most ancient religions in the world. It is over seven thousand years old and it’s ideas, conviction, spirit and idea has been lost over the times. It’s knowledge got in wrong hands and was misused.

    But let us give it the respect it deserves. It is misinterpreted yet Not Funny.
    However the actual problems of religion comes when due to a religions fundamentalist behavior common people can not get in public areas fearing attacks. A demo detailed example by Mr Amir Khan is required to understand there what is the attitude problem there and how can this be stopped. The movie is mum on those sensitive topics are not touched because they disturb peace. Then why are poor hindutwadis blamed even after you made their religion practices joke?

  18. DarkCloud

    Religions are created by men , for their own selfish motives . . . To control the masses . . . To control our behaviour and thus it takes away our freedom . . . Jesus never told his followers to start a religion called christianity . . . Krishna never spoke of starting religions like vaishnavism or hinduism !! Its all made by normal human beings to control the vast population . But religion also has some good points . It makes us disciplined and forbids us to commit sins . For example God says in the Bible not to spill the blood of another human … Then Buddha says not to kill any living creatures .

    The problem with today’s society is that , most of these so called Gurus and Shamans around the world are nothing but frauds & cons .
    They have been fooling the public & earning fast bucks . Its a booming business for them . And yet the gullible public blindly believes them , falling for their lies and deciets .
    The priests in Kali temple encourages people to offer goat sacrifices. Do you really think God would love to see a poor creature getting be-headed ?? Hell No !! These absurd rules are made by evil men , in order to control the population so that their business can flourish .
    And don’t be fooled by my comment . . . I am no muslim . I’m a hindu who don’t like to do any racial or religious discrimination . . . I don’t have anything against God . . . But definately against these fraud gurus who thinks they are the chosen ones of God and can guide us to the right path . . . Guess what , i don’t need to go to any religious institutions to pay my respect to God . . . The real God is within me . . . I can pray to him from my own home !! . . . Today’s youth are smart enough to realise this and that’s what this film is all about . . . Nobody gives a damn what the hindutva supporters think about this film . . . Your screams of hatred will go in vain and will be forgotten in a matter of days lol ;D
    So keep up with your religious rants . . . You haters can’t stop us from starting a relationship with a person of another religion . . . Its our personal matter . . . So go poke your noses elsewhere . . . Films like this will keep coming and will be liked by the masses whether you like it or not !!

    1. Madhawi

      Well said,,,

    2. Jyotirmoy

      Didn’t Shri Krishna say anything about non violence???

  19. Sriram

    H.G. Chaitanya Charan Das answers to some basic questions which have come up in the minds of the public due to the latest movie PK (Peekay), targeting the viewpoints of the religious people.
    Questions & Answers based on PK movie by Chaitanya Charan Das
    https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLhtmKWc6vRTBT6BrdzVhS6BwPtH-Zvh3s

    1. Madhawi

      Hi
      So far i am an atheist, and i lived my life happily and peacefully.
      But after watching the film PK i came to know that there is God who does not belong to any religion and in your video Swami also said that God exist. So now i believe in God, but Swami does not tell which God to follow,Please let me tell the name of correct God to follow and why and why not others.

  20. Jyotirmoy

    PK is just another run of the mill movie.!!! To know more about Hinduism study the books by Swami Vivekananda. The superstitions prevalent in Hinduism today is due to the ignorance of the the philosophical aspect of the religion coupled with thousand years of Mohammedan and British rule.

  21. AgniR

    The quality of the articles at YKA keep dropping at an astounding rate.

    People who criticize PK do not do it because makes them uncomfortable but because it is intellectually dishonest. Why is it intellectually dishonest? Because it is biases in its portrayal of a system of belief that it does not understand. Apart from this, I also think that it is extremely mediocre. The first few scenes where the spaceship lands on the Earth are a dead giveaway of what the movie is going to be like. It is at most average at best and propagandist at worst.

  22. Arindam

    Well, I do not agree with quite a few things in the movie.

    1. It did show Shiv in a derogatory way and to be honest, they did not show Islam or Christianity in such bad light.
    2. It depicted praying to Hanuman for strength during cardio is wrong.

    The movie was decent. It had some good points like 3Idiots (which also had flaws).

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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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