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It May Not Be The Country’s Best, But Govt. Law College Mumbai Brings Out The Best In Me

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By Shivani Chimnani:

After graduating from high school and embracing adulthood, the most awaited phase of my life was coming – college. Like every other person, I too had typical expectations from college. An extravagant welcome, a vibrant class and encouraging seniors. I was all set with my eyes on the stars and my feet on the ground to conquer the university. I was all geared up for the best phase of my life. I was ready for college.

As I set foot in the 161 year old structure that was my college, I was initially greeted with a whiff of ammonia and large specks of dust. Much to my dismay, college was not what I expected it to be. Everyone seemed aloof and nonchalant and an extravagant welcome seemed more than a far fetched idea. Nonetheless, this did not deter my spirit. I thought my classmates would be nice. Unfortunately, I was in for another bummer. I didn’t seem to have an instant connection with any of them. Just when things were plummeting down, there came another landslide. The cool seniors I had hoped to meet and and emulate were barely present. Everything was going quite contrary to my expectation. College had been ruined for me. Feelings like hate, annoyance, resentment, sorrow, regret, fury were what I was going through in the initial days. Going to law school was quite an unplanned decision for me and I was disappointed.

So, what changed? My morose life at college took a big fat turn. Time did heal everything; in fact, time did a pretty good job. All the things I’d hope for did eventually happen. The fruit of patience reaped its benefits and I consider going to Government Law College, Mumbai as one of my best decisions. This college made me meet peers who were intelligent and encouraged me to raise my IQ level, to read more, learn more, and above all to be more. For starters in law school, if there’s one thing which one must know, it is public speaking. A skill I was utterly clueless about. The ever so supportive seniors taught us the art of public speaking and other valuable skills to survive half a decade in law school. My college gave me the opportunities to explore the legal world, to build my talents and work in a team. It encouraged me to go for competitions ranging from moot courts to debates to Model United Nations, both in India and abroad. My time in law school also made me socially aware and morally conscious. Most importantly, this college inculcated within me a love for the law. My spontaneous decision turned into an obsession with the law, with justice. This college which has been associated with legends of law inspired each student to work hard to uphold their legacy. This college helped me bring out the best in me.

I may not be in the top law school in the country, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am in a place where there are students with whom I can discuss about the tragic Syrian crisis and at the same time gossip about the Kardashians. I’m in an environment with a spirit of competition but at the same time it is also supportive. I have known people who would lend you notes, answer your midnight queries and sometimes just help you get through extreme exam anxiety. I’m in a law school with impassioned students who travel from the remotest corners of the city amidst the torrential Mumbai monsoon downpour and a dysfunctional commute system to make it in time for the 7 am lecture. I am in a law school with the most amazing people who inspire me every day.

My college does not have an enormous campus, it doesn’t always get exceptional university rankings, it does not have “state of the art” facilities and for a lot of people it’s a mere backup option. But let me tell you something, it does one thing right, it produces amazing lawyers. It comprises of the students who strive day in and day out under this rusty, old structure with the dreams of being the next Ram Jethmalani. The college witnesses the passion of students who begin their day with the library opening hours, the zealous freshmen who lend all their energy in hosting the best moot court competitions of the country, the exceptional teachers who support you from answering your academic queries to addressing injustices by Mumbai University, the kind ones making time for social service in midst of studying for cumbersome law finals and the brave souls who choose to take the unconventional path and study to be better lawyers with the sole aim of procuring justice and making a difference.

It’s not being in the best college or reading the best books which make you excel. Such things are rather expendable. Sometimes it is your staunch convictions, your relentless efforts and your surroundings that do the trick. The building, the location, the library have made this college great but if I were to see what it is today, I would say the people make it what it is.


Featured Image Source: Shivam Jain Kakadia/ Wikipedia
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  1. Ayush Sinha

    Very true.

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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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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