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

How The Digital Revolution May Have Lowered Collective IQ Of Our Nation

Back in the good old days, when Sachin and Saurav opened for India, when Shaktimaan was the talk of the town, and when Falguni Pathak took the nation by a storm, we still had mediocre minds amidst us… all kinds of them. You see mediocrity knows no bounds. The vulnerable minds of our countrymen, long exposed to unrealistic Bollywood climaxes, were the breeding ground for ideas. The intellectuals of the 21st century, sitting in their air-conditioned living rooms, having secured food for their thought, as well as, for their stomachs, frequently dismissed these ideas as regressive, misogynist, or at the very least, as obsolete. But the coming of the new millennium gave a new lease of life to Indian mediocrity— a mediocre revolution.

I am tempted to believe that it was the airing of the never ending saas-bahu (family drama) shows, where the female leads fiercely competed with each other to authoritatively secure their positions within the walls of their luxurious 5-star mansions, that gave a boost to Indian mediocrity. However, we as a nation still had a long road to travel to allow mediocrity to flourish and triumph.

This revolution, long overdue, was brought in by the coming of age of the internet. As more and more mobile phones accessed the digital world, seemingly harmless mediocre intermingled and produced lethal mutations that have worked to collectively bring down the intellect of our great nation. Even though we took pride in providing the fascinating world of the internet to our masses, in reality we faced a situation where our mediocre ideas flowed unchecked to far off places at the click of a button. Thus providing not just the justifications for existing social evils, but also promoting them overtly. This situation can be roughly compared to a fictitious country which boasted of a population of one and a half billion with a literacy rate of about 75%, but in reality has failed to provide a quality education system that could quell its mediocrity even after 70 years of independence (any kind of similarity with this fictitious nation is strictly unintended).

Those of my friends who have a taste for firangi (foreign) cinema would be aware of this bald guy, moving around in a wheelchair, claiming to read the thoughts of people around him. The internet, and more specifically, its social media platforms, have made sure that this exclusive superpower becomes essentially commonplace. You log on to Facebook and the first thing it wants to know is ‘what’s going on in your mind’. How can my fellow countrymen, simple-minded and honest as they always are, abstain from pouring in the mediocrity that has for years been trapped in their neurons, patiently waiting to see the light of day.

People, since time immemorial, have had an opinion on anything and everything. The internet has made sure that these opinions not just find a mode of expression, but are also strengthened once they find mediocrity of a similar or higher level in cyberspace.

I should make it clear that I’m not against people voicing their opinions; definitely not when I know that at one level these “opinions” are amusing and entertaining. I won’t deny that watching people engage in comment wars over trivial topics, often invoking the mothers and sisters of their adversaries, is a sort of sadistic entertainment, unknown to men that thrived before us.

But something definitely is wrong.

First things first, we are a frustrated nation— frustrated at many levels. And we’ve created a culture that caters to this frustration, building upon our mediocrity. The larger than life muscular male superstar punching the air out of a pack of helpless goons is a respite for many seeking refuge from their respective frustrated realities. Middle-aged women commenting venomously on the length of clothes of young girls is a frustrated attempt of the flag-bearers of the mediocre ideals to subvert the forces of change. Parents forcing their children into choosing subjects, professions, and life partners has ensured that this frustration never ends. This mediocrity always expresses itself and remains deep-rooted in our minds. And when you give the power of expression through social media to this frustrated mass, be prepared for… well, for anything — be it good or bad, because mediocrity knows no bounds.

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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, 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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