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This Is What Delhi Students Are Demanding From Their Future CM!

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By Sanjana Ahuja:

(This article was written after interviewing a diverse group of students from across universities in Delhi and keeps all their viewpoints in mind.)

After participating in one of the most talked about and largest national elections in the world, the time has now come for the students of the nation’s capital to decide upon the fate of their upcoming state government. Though Delhi boasts of many top-class educational institutions, Delhi-ites and our outstation cousins alike are disillusioned when they actually set foot in these renowned colleges. As the chief ministerial candidates talk about the rapid rate of growth and development that they expect to achieve, they often neglect the needs of the youth; who form a large part of the electorate. As the capital swoons over images of shining lights, towering skyscrapers, fancy malls and whatnot, the many students whom I had the chance to interview had somewhat of a more ‘reasonable and basic’ expectation from the next government, which would aptly fit into the first two tiers of Maslow’s Pyramid.

Let us begin with the first and most vital demand- better security and instilling a sense of safety among all students, particularly the females. Banning Uber Cabs or installing 15000 CCTV cameras for foreign dignitaries temporarily during their visits is not the solution. The need of the hour is a strengthened and foolproof administrative setup capable of prevention and not just cure. Besides the obvious solution of increasing police patrol, especially around the universities, every college needs to have in place active and efficient anti-sexual harassment committees and anti-bullying helplines. Dedicated buses should be arranged for female students, particularly for those attending evening colleges, so that they can reach home safely.

Delhi needs to have in place stringent legal measures to deal with racial and ethnic discrimination, which create a sense of alienation for members of our diverse student population. With students coming in from all parts of India and the rest of the world, sensitizing students to different cultures and customs is also necessary. Failure to protect any one student is a failure to protect all in totality and shouldn’t be considered any less than a failure of the state machinery.

Safety and security is not merely confined to protection from physical harm but should also extend to financial security, health and well-being. An overall improvement in infrastructure is quintessential to the improvement in and access to quality education. There must be an increase in the budget allocation for education and also, proper implementation of these funds to actually benefit the students. Merit-based scholarships and need-based financial aid will help deserving students avail higher learning opportunities and equip them for a better life. Delhi University, in particular, is crumbling under the swarms of students that exceed the institution’s capacity. To counter this issue, there needs to be an overall increase in the number of colleges, followed by a subsequent improvement in the quality and quantity of professors and administrative staff employed. Educational institutions must also have provisions for nutritious and affordable meal options, filtered drinking water and hygienic sanitation facilities.

To facilitate the improvement of academic life, especially for out of station students, the provision of hostel facilities must be expanded. PG accommodation fees and room rents should be regulated under the Delhi Rent Control Act 1995.

Metro stations should be located strategically, connecting all colleges by also creating a metro-college feeder bus service with subsidized tickets. The planned bus routes should include a stop within 500m of every college and students commuting on them on daily basis should be offered a bus pass with special discounts.

The changes demanded by the youth are not simply limited to infrastructural developments. The courses being taught in colleges are dated and non-stimulating. A switch from a bookish form of learning to a more hands on holistic education for students will help students from Delhi compete with their counterparts from across the globe, and help them get better jobs. Speaking of jobs, a strong placement cell in each college is a necessity as it will not only help students secure work, but give them information about the different kinds of positions they can apply for.

As per the Directorate of Economics and Statistics of the Delhi Government’s report on the employment and unemployment scenario in Delhi, the rate of unemployment in the urban area of the city is 40 per thousand persons, lagging behind the national average. An official also disclosed that over 90 per cent of the unemployed are mostly youngsters. Out of the total of 2.66 lakh unemployed persons, about 2.50 lakh (approximately 93.84 per cent) fall in the category of 15 to 29 years. Along with creating new jobs, the new CM must look into the aspects of job security, enforced minimum wage, and strict labour laws to ensure that the common man is not exploited.

We are the youth of Delhi. We dream of a Delhi where we don’t need to constantly keep checking the time and answer worried calls from our families whenever we go out at night, we dream of a Delhi where it does not take an hour to travel every 20 odd kilometres, a Delhi where we don’t have to think twice before going to a crowded mall or marketplace fearing another bomb scare. We demand a CM who respects our needs and helps us to achieve our full potential.

It is rightly said that opportunity is always present in the midst of crises; the future CM of Delhi should make the best possible use of this opportunity and bring about some tangible changes.

You must be to comment.
  1. tanima

    Totally a lot of changes are required. . I am very inspired by your article . I would really appreciate if you could write something about current India’s situation unemployment and slow economic growth.

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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.

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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.

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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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