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10 Things To Know About This Year’s Monsoon Session Of The Parliament

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By Abhishek Jha:

The government has been facing heat from the opposition parties due to the scams that have come to light in recent months, and the ordinances and bills that were passed in the Budget session. An all-party meeting was held in the national capital on Monday to ease tensions and plan for a smooth functioning of the parliament. However, it did not yield results as the government has decided to defend its ministers embroiled in scams. As the monsoon session of the Parliament is all set to begin, we look at some of the issues that are likely to be addressed in the parliament.

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1. The Land Acquisition Bill: On the first day of the session, the Joint Committee of Parliament is going to seek extension “up to the First day of the Third week of current Session of Parliament“, for presenting its report. Headed by BJP’s S.S. Ahluwalia, the Committee has so far received 672 representations, out of which 670 have opposed the amendment. Reports suggest that the government is likely to promulgate the ordinance for the fourth time in anticipation of the Bihar Assembly elections and, due to expected disruptions in the parliament.

2. The Goods and Services Tax Bill: The Bill had been passed by the Lok Sabha in the previous session of the parliament and had been sent to a Select Committee of the Rajya Sabha for scrutiny. The Committee has prepared a report wherein the Centre has given in to the states’ demand for full compensation for the losses incurred by them due to the bill for five years. Earlier the Centre has said that full compensation will be provided only for three years, after which it will be lowered to 75% in the fourth year and then 50% in the fifth. While the bill is on a smoother path now, it is unlikely that it will be passed in the current session due to major roadblocks awaiting the government.

3. The IIM Bill: The IIM Bill, which had been put in the public domain for discussion, saw major opposition from IIMs themselves, who thought that a few clauses in the bill could be a threat to their autonomy, and would give too much power to the government. The HRD ministry has been in consultation with the IIMs since the public outcry and it is likely that clarifications will be provided in the monsoon session.

4. Juvenile Justice Bill: Amongst the 10 bills pending in the Rajya Sabha, one is the controversial Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Bill, 2015. The bill was passed by the Lok Sabha amid stiff opposition from the opposition which objected to clauses that lower the age of trial for heinous crimes for the juvenile. As the BJP does not enjoy a majority in the Upper House, it is unlikely that the bill will go through.

5. Negotiable Instruments Bill: The Negotiable Instruments (Amendment) Bill, 2015, which was promulgated on 15th June is likely to be introduced as a bill in the parliament in the current session. The amendment makes clarifications on the sections regarding the “the territorial jurisdiction for trying the cases for dishonour of cheques.”

6. Road Safety Bill: The Road and Transport Safety Bill, 2015 is also scheduled to be introduced in the monsoon session. Introducing norms compatible with international standards and fines, the bill has been facing opposition from both, industries-wary of harsher norms, and workers- worried that it will put an end to Regional Transport Offices.

7. Reservation of seats for women: Two other important amendment bills- The Constitution Amendment Bill (Reservation of Women in Panchayats) and Constitution Amendment Bill, scheduled to be introduced increase reservation for women up to half in Panchayats and Urban Bodies, respectively.

8. Vyapam Scam: Disruptions are expected in the parliament from opposition parties that are demanding resignation of the MP Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. The Professional Exams Board scam, which came to light after several deaths of accused in the case, has put the minister in a spot and BJP in the line of fire. However, the BJP has flatly refused to accept the demand for action against the Chief Minister. After BJP President Amit Shah met several party leaders, ahead of the monsoon session on Sunday, reports say that the party’s line of defence is going to be to cite the acceptance of the demand for a CBI probe.

9. Lalit-Gate: Both External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje have been at the centre of a controversy where they have been accused of exchanging favours with Lalit Modi, the businessman who is being investigated for financial irregularities by the Enforcement Directorate. Ever since documents suggesting exchange of favours were released, the Congress has been asking for their resignation from the BJP. However, BJP has refused the demands. After an all-party meeting on Monday, the Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu has said that Sushma Swaraj may make a statement on the issue.

10. PDS Scam: Congress is also likely to demand the resignation of Chattisgarh Chief Minster Raman Singh over the PDS Scam involving thousands of crores of rupees. The scam had emerged in March after raids by the state’s Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB). The Supreme Court on Monday asked petitioners seeking a CBI probe into the issue to either move the High Court or lodge an FIR. The Congress is also alleging the involvement of the Chief Minister.

Although there is quite a lot to be done in the parliament, with both the government and the opposition refusing to budge, it is unlikely that any work will be accomplished in this session. In fact, it is more likely that the refusal of the BJP to admit any fault on its behalf in the scams will make the Congress even more spirited and stubborn in its demands.

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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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