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My Advice To Mr. Modi: 4 Big Steps That Will Help You Become A Complete Statesman

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By Prateek Sibal:

Politicians often spar over everything, ideology or no ideology; the issue should help them win votes. So it is not surprising to see that when distressed farmers in the country are driven to a point of suicide, politicians within government and without are doing what they do best – trade charges and grab headlines.

Today, India is at an important crossroad where we can either continue to make sanctimonious noise and let our democracy slide into decay, or seize the hour and embark upon building national institutions with renewed vigour. Without doubt, if there is one person who is a spring well of this vigour, it is Prime Minister Modi. He has vision, boldness, and an appetite to take tough decisions for the nation’s. Here is a list of four decisions that will engrave his name in stone, and complete his transformation from a politician to a statesman.

1. Free Education Of Political Influence:

Given the twists and turns in the education policy that we see today, from Delhi University going back and forth on Four Year Undergraduate Program to mid-session cessation of German language teaching in government schools, or even worse, the frequent change in curriculum based on the ideology of the political party in power, education has become a game of ping-pong. Such an approach is jeopardizing the country’s future progress by giving its youth second rate education. Adding to the woes is the Annual State of Education Report (ASER), that highlights how 50% of grade five students cannot read grade two texts, apart from having difficulties in doing basic math. In this scenario, it would be reflective of the Prime Minister’s leadership prowess if he quells the political sabotage of the education system by and gives a freehold to academics with experience and long term vision to guide the country’s education policy towards stability and effectiveness.

2. Give Anti Corruption Laws Teeth That Bite:

Crony Capitalism has become so deeply entrenched in the country that every few months we see a new scam falling out of the closet. Some are investigated and brought to conclusion, but most are easily forgotten as soon as the media highlight fades away. More often than not, these scams are used to settle political scores. The political class’ lackadaisical attitude towards corruption is evident from Minister of State for Personnel, Dr Jitendra Singh, saying in the Rajya Sabha that no time frame can be given for the implementation of the Lokpal Act even after 365 days of it being signed by the President. Given this situation, there is no chance that India will become free of corruption anytime soon. The government must not only implement the law at the earliest but also strengthen the institution of Lokpal further by bringing in investigative agencies like the CBI under its purview, so that the corrupt can be investigated and prosecuted without political interference.

3. Restore Freedom Of Speech And Artistic Liberties:

A true leader thrives in an atmosphere of dissent, where civil liberties are expanded instead of being curtailed. With bizarre pronouncements by film censor board on appropriateness of films and banning of books that do not conform to the majority view, we are only replacing a vibrant, free spirited Indian culture of debate with one that is regressive and intolerant. This is an area where we actually need minimum governance, the state must withdraw from passing value judgments on what the society can watch, say or read. Instead of controlling the content, the government should try to expand the reach of the medium.

4. Focus Not Only On The Ease Of Doing Business But Also On The Ease Of Living:

Anyone who has lived in India will know as to how difficult it is for an ordinary citizen to deal with the byzantine Indian bureaucracy. From election offices, to transport authorities to navigating through never ending court cases an average citizen spends much of her time, energy and money in trying to avail what is rightfully hers. This ease of living is not only about setting few forms and application procedures right but as much about changing the attitude of government officers from being dilatory to facilitating. The move towards e-governance, linking of Aadhar cards with bank accounts is welcome, but the government should also sensitize authorities to respond to the needs of poor who queue at its offices, with urgency. Every hour wasted waiting in government offices often means a wage loss for the already impecunious.

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  1. Hary

    Statesman? Adani ka Chaprasi banega Statesman? Authorji, based on what did you make these assumptions about Modi?
    “vision, boldness, and appetite” toh Adani ka hai; kudh ka munafa badhane ka! Modi bus chaprasi hai us punjivad ka!
    You expect Modi to free our country of corruption? Lol! Its like realizing you’ve been bitten by a rabid dog and then you expect the same/another rabid dog to bite away the rabies virus from your wound!
    Modi ek Fasivadi hai with an experience of orchastrating a racial genocide, selling off Indian people’s lands and resources for private/corporate benefits.
    Expecting him to be a good leader is like asking a registered pedophile and serial sex offender to look after an orphanage!

    1. Batman

      I second Hary.

  2. Mayur

    Since the start of his tenure, Modi seems to be cleaning up the mess around. Essentially concentrating on bringing in foreign investment and/or bettering Indias ties with countries of importance. It would be apt to say that yes,when Modi starts looking at the country internally, these 4 changes will indeed make him standout and be a true statesman. However these decisions are easier said than done. Freeing Education from political ties is a near impossible task with every state dictating its own syllabus. Its quite possible with CBSE/ICSE though.

    Bills to amend laws on corruption have come and gone , eventually there is no visible result. Its all the same as before. I dont see an end to this debate and hence stronger amends anytime soon.

    Same goes with freedom of speech. In fact this can be a bigger problem than expected since a major part of the “freedom of speech” problem is caused by people/parties someway or the other associated with BJP.

    The fourth one , in my opinion is a must. What Modi did with Clean India, Make In India, he can also do with living. The government seems to be on the right track but they do need to be a lot faster in bringing technology forward.

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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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