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“Teachers In Christ Univ. Are Caught Between The Devil And The Deep Sea”: Former Faculty

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Submitted anonymously by a former faculty member at Christ University:

The infrastructural facilities at Christ University, Bangalore are second to none. From the auditorium to the sporting arena and from the library to the canteen, modernity features. Students also get to experience teaching blended with technology – learning process at its best. The cosmopolitan nature of the campus makes it even more attractive. But do all these qualities ensure good education? The answer would be a thumping NO!

The Greek Philosopher Aristotle said, “man by nature is brute and education makes him human”. But at Christ, in the infamous nurturing ground for an individuals’ holistic development, the human element is vividly missing. Right from the time of admission through the convocation, authorities at Christ treat individuals as underdogs. They consider themselves as emperors forgetting the fact that the world is much bigger than their province.

Men in white, sitting in spacious chambers having truckles around them, make decisions regarding right and wrong believing that they are the conscience keepers of society. Primarily members of Dharmaram, which is a catholic seminary, they feel that the University should function as an extension of the seminary.

The root causes of education’s defeat at Christ starts there.

If religion urges human beings to be submissive, education exhorts them to question the existing norms only to find the deeper meaning of values and to reach at a greater understanding. No wonder then that on the research front the university’s performance has been abysmally poor. What research when the spirit of inquiry is at stake?
It is understood that in a democratic society, education strengthens democracy. To meet this end democratic education is a means. But for those priests in command of the university, democracy ends with minority rights and private educational institution’s rights.

They are unaware of the democratic rights of students. The spirit of democracy lies in the participatory decision making process. But this process looks like a distant dream for all stakeholders of the university who are only used to autocratic decision making process. The student council of the university, obviously selected and not elected, remains like a toothless Pomeranian dog when decisions are inflicted on the student community by the management.
Fear is the magic stick in the university. If priests use fear of hell to make the laity remain faithful, fear of termination from the university is used for keeping the students not open their mouth against infringement of rights.
Teachers too do not get to experience the spirit of dialogue. Those who disagree with the management are either fired or sidelined. Showing consideration for students will definitely land them in the wrong books of the management. Most of them continue in service as they get good pay compared to many other colleges in Bangalore. In effect teachers in Christ are caught between the devil and the deep sea. But the sycophants will definitely want to continue as they enjoy plum posts.

It was a surprise to many when a relatively young professor known for wide reading and for championing humanistic and progressive approaches, was given an important administrative role. Only later they realised that it was a clever move by the management to trap him and to appease the ‘local’ sentiments. Today he is a mouthpiece of the management. Power indeed corrupts!

The leaders at the university are eagle-eyed. If others wrong they will pounce on them. But what will happen when they themselves commit mistakes?

The present vice-chancellor who is popularly known as ‘Chathan’ (meaning devil in Malayalam) has been alleged to have hit students including girls in total violation of the court order on corporal punishment in educational institutions.

This all powerful man confines himself to his mighty room and is not accessible to small fries which includes students, teachers, parents, media reporters and bureaucrats among others.

Another priest at the University is allegedly known for notorious for drooling when girls approach him used to ask girls to lift their duppatta in the guise of ensuring that they were not wearing sleeveless dress. Girls who raised their voice against him were muffled and were shown the door.

Who will bell these cats?

The answer to the above mentioned question would be staff and students. Christ is not the world. The world is much bigger. The world itself is a university. If the education doesn’t encourage you to question then that is not real education. If the education doesn’t allow you to hold your head high then that is not genuine. Education is all about developing individuality. Though discipline is important, it should not be at the cost of individuality.

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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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