This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Youth Ki Awaaz. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

“Mahatmas Have Come, Mahatmas Have Gone But The Untouchables Remain Untouchables”

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

Note: The following excerpt is from “CasteIsNotARumor: The Online Diary Of Rohith Vemula”, edited by Nikhila Henry

a) Nation And Nationalism

August 15, 2013

Another Independence Day just came by to tickle our meagre everyday life. But we should be ‘Proud of being an Indian’. Even after 67 years of Independence there are class differences and caste discrimination but we should ‘Love our Nation’. There is freedom for women in our country but if a girl marries a boy from another caste and not her own, we will kill her for our ‘honour’. ‘Happy independence day’. The new born babies in this 67-year-old heaven have the freedom to become anything in life but if they want education each has to pay a hefty Rs. 60,000 as donation to be admitted in private institutions. If they get educated in government schools and universities they should get ‘recommendation’ to get a job. ‘Swatantra Diwas Mubarak’.

If you are a Muslim it is better to not get into any argument with a Hindu and if you are a Dalit never look at any Savarna person eye-to-eye. All this might trigger massive communal violence. ‘Independence Day Greetings!’. In reality, freedom of electing our leaders has become a choice between lesser evil and greater ones; only to be fooled every five years. Religion is still a determining factor in elections. ‘Jai Hind’.

We have the freedom to choose between McDonalds or Dominos for lunch. We also have the freedom to neglect our accountability towards the bitter suicides of farmers across the country. ‘Happy Independence Day!’

You should love your country and your love for the country is gauged with your hatred for other countries. Just curse a fellow Pakistani and you will be regarded as the best Indian ever! ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai!’.

Anyway, wishing you all a delightful Independence Day hoping at least today no innocent will face fake encounter at the hands of our security agencies just because they belong to some ‘infamous’ community. ‘Vandemataram!’

‘Mahatmas have come, Mahatmas have gone but the Untouchables have remained as Untouchables…So long as you do not achieve social liberty, whatever freedom is provided by the law is of no avail to you…’


March 22, 2014

When I speak about my community, I am non-Nationalist. When you speak about Nationalism excluding my community, it is never questioned.

Nationalism and its effect on subaltern struggles: From the eyes of Depressed class. Nationalism in our country is peculiar in more than one way. The nationalistic concept which our history texts taught us was clearly and merely an outcome of our opposition to British-suzerainty but never a result of love towards ourselves and it was never an All-India struggle.

Freedom Struggle and Nationalism

In [nationalism’s –Ed.] basic form [as manifested in –Ed.] the independence struggle, it stands more as an elitist movement, grossly ignoring subaltern art forms like folk cultures, subaltern struggles for political recognition and their right to equal share in successes. In fact, any subaltern struggle that rose for self-respect, demanding dismantlement of Brahmanical and elite Hindu values was subjected to extreme scrutiny and often projected as retrogressive and divisive of national integrity (?) during the time. Moreover, the independence movement gave the valorous recognition to otherwise extremely orthodox and Manuvadi apologists. Be it Lal-Bal- Pal [Lal Bahadur Shastri, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Bipin Chandra Pal –Ed.), Dayananda- Vivekanada duo, Tagore, or the celebrated Gandhi, struggle for independence allowed them to justify their obscurantist [policies –Ed.] on vital social issues and prevented heterodox groups from questioning their tenets of Brahmanical culture thereby giving these immunity.

In my opinion, disadvantaged sections differed with tropes of Indian freedom struggle over this basic point: that the British rule resulted in socio-economic differences and also Hindu-Muslim divide. This, even when facts speak otherwise; with empirical evidence clearly pointing out that the British had only encashed and benefited from the then existing social differences and institutionalised inequality.

Aforesaid thoughts of mine on freedom struggle are not drawn out of ‘sacred’ history books but from the standpoint of depressed sections of Indian society. [These sections were –Ed.] never given a decision-making role in the movement and their struggle for self-respect was often denounced as ‘Identity politics’ or at worst they are called ‘stooges’ [of the British –Ed.].

_CASTE IS NOT A RUMOUR_300_RGB (1)Two Nationalisms

Today’s cultural chauvinism and irrational hatred towards neighbouring countries in the name of Nationalism is a self-evident example of the flaws in our idea of patriotism. Today we are offered two kinds of Nationalisms, politically. One is the ‘Modi-fied’ version of Nationalism that has as its core saffron Hindutva and the other ‘Khadi’ Nationalism with ‘Soft Hinduism’ and ‘Progressive Brahmanism’ as its core. It is also to be noted that the internal confusion the Communist parties in India have about Nationalism prevented them from forging a strong opposition against the fraudulent concept of Nationalism. The stand of communist parties on Nationalism remained varied – as radical armed struggle (during the freedom struggle) to a Caste Hindu form (in West Bengal) and to cynical passivity (South India). I give due respect to some of the weak, stray Counter-Nationalist tendencies registered sporadically in not-so-national platforms [among the Indian Communists –Ed.].

What is happening today nationwide in the name of Patriotism is nothing short of a renaissance of this past travesty that had nothing in store for the real upliftment of lower sections. Thus it is important for the lower sections of our society to learn about the perils of Nationalism and the ugly orthodox idea of Patriotism that guarantees no recognition, dignity and real social reform.

March 22, 2014

Feeling bad with the wrangles on Nationalism

What does this word Nationality actually represent? In the eternity and immensity of our endless universe in its cosmic scale, the obsession with boundaries and labels is nothing less than a reckless fallacy we carry conceitedly in our minds…The earth itself is nothing but a mote of dust floating in the morning sky when it is compared to the size of the unimaginably vast universe. We assume we are greater than the grandest mammoths that walked on this planet thousands of years ago and we claim we are greater than the beautiful birds flying freely in the wild, on the basis of that we can read, record, communicate and apply knowledge on. But caste, gender and regional chauvinists who survived through the sturdy strides of modern science are a sad proof to the odious vacuum we cultivated in modern social mentality. In times of scientific golden age, where we are able to understand the exquisite interrelationships between humans and nature, stars and atoms, molecules and materials, the educated lot of our country are still getting pleasure in adding fume to exclusive notions like national barriers. The air we breathe has no nationality, the water we drink, the rain we enjoy, the sky we amaze at and the love that flows in this world has no nationality…

Nationalism is nothing but a side effect of imagination. An excuse to accuse others. A reason to celebrate the defeat of the ‘other’ human being. We, the super animals, who can name things are the discoverers of this dangerous trend (called Nationalism) and we alone are victims of this disease. We need to build a universal human conscious[ness] unfettered by the rules of divisive ethnic backgrounds. I believe we can build a powerful future only on the principles of global citizenship.

August 15, 2014

Why Indians should never talk to Pakistanis…What if we become friends? Worse, what if we become brothers and sisters again! What will happen to the Bharatiya Janata Party, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh [if that happens –Ed.]? Let us hate each other in the name of Nationalism and Patriotism. Jana Gana Mana! Bhai!

Excerpted with permission from #CasteIsNotARumour – The Online Diary of Rohith Vemula, edited by Nikhila Henry published by Juggernaut Books and available on the Juggernaut app.

You must be to comment.

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

Similar Posts

By SAGE Publications India

By Akash Gupta

By Pratisandhi Foundation

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

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.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

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.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below