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No Pakistani Actors On Maharashtrian Soil: Has The Shiv Sena Gone Too Far This Time?

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By Tabu Agarwal:

In a latest attack, the Shiv Sena, a Hindu extremist party currently engaged in a ruling coalition with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Maharashtra, has decided to stop Pakistani actors, Mahira Khan and Fawad Khan from entering ‘Maharashtrian land’.

The threat against these actors is the latest incident that adds to Shiv Sena’s spree of attacks against Pakistanis working in India. Last month, the party forced organisers to cancel the Mumbai concert of renowned Pakistani ghazal singer Ghulam Ali. The entire incident led to a wide public uproar over the cancellation and Shiv Sena’s statement saying that, “We can’t have cultural ties with Pakistan when they kill our soldiers.”

Banned!

Under their ambit of semi-fascism, the Shiv Sena has not only attacked Bollywood, but also managed to continue their string of protests on almost anyone coming from Pakistan- be it singers, cricketers, or former ministers. For instance, the Shiv Sena workers recently stormed into the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) office to protest against the meeting with the Pakistan Cricket board to discuss the India-Pakistan bilateral series slated for December. They further said that they will not allow any cricket ties with Pakistan to flourish.

The Shiv Sena and the RSS share a common allegiance to the communal concept of cultural nationalism and shares their aim of making India a “Hindu Rashtra”. So much so that the current Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray even expressed concern over the growing Muslim population in the country saying it can affect the nation’s unity. Additionally, he also advised Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ask Muslims of the country to respect the law and adopt measures of family planning. The party’s brand building is solely riding on their power of disruption and systematic targeting of different sections of minorities in a cynical manner to gather its mass support. Such minority targets have often included Muslims, non-Maharashtrians, and Dalits.

The caste politics and subsequent vandalism practised by the Shiv Sena go down as one of the sad periods in the history of Maharashtra. In 2003, much to the nation’s embarrassment, it damaged the cricket pitch at the Agra Sports stadium, which was supposed to host a match between Pakistan and India. A similar incident was witnessed over a decade earlier in Wankhede stadium.

Ever since its inception in 1966 by political cartoonist Bal Thackeray, Shiv Sena has managed to garner support from big businesses and ruling classes due to its rabid anti-communism ideology. Under the authoritarian rule of demagogue supremo Bal Thackeray, who previously endorsed the rule of likes of Adolf Hitler and Nathuram Godse, the party managed to spread its wings in the state quickly.

Despite a lot of slamming by several Bollywood actors against the Shiv Sena’s resolve to halt Pakistani actors from performing and promoting their films in Maharashtra, the party does not seem to be in a mood to stop. Commenting on the same, Bollywood film director Mukesh Bhatt said that art should be kept away from politics. By not allowing artists to perform in the state or anywhere else in the country, the absolute freedom of artistic activity is not followed. Such a practice will only make our country regressive, especially at a time when nobody wants it to be like that.

BJP and the Shiv Sena split on September 15, just three weeks before the 2014 Maharashtra Assembly elections threw up a fractured verdict in the 288-member legislature. However they later patched up and joined hands to form a stable government in the state with the Chief Minister giving the Shiv Sena 12 portfolios in the Cabinet expansion. With Shiv Sena being a major stakeholder in the state, the entire situation of law and order is definitely something that raises an eyebrow between two hands of the same government. With such a widespread rampage of violence, whatever little has remained of Mumbai’s reputation of a comprehensive, multicultural city, is under major threat. The BJP’s helplessness seems to be growing with every act of Sena rampage so much so that Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis himself warned the Sena about the impact of such incidents on his administration’s efforts to woo domestic and foreign investment.

Meanwhile, by not allowing Pakistani dignitaries to land on Maharashtrian soil, the Shiv Sena might be digging a hole for itself by successfully blocking the opportunity for a meaningful dialogue between the two countries. It is also offering ammunition to extremists on both sides of the border. The Shiv Sena’s puerile diktats, if unchecked, might have serious consequences for Maharashtra especially at a time when there is growing intolerance in the country.

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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.

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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.”

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Read more about her campaign.

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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.

Find out more about the campaign here.

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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.

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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
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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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