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Why UP And Its Govt. Will Crumble Unless It Is Divided Into Smaller States

As I write this article, stories of rapes, caste conflicts, murders, and robberies keep cropping up in Uttar Pradesh, a state with 200 million people. The most recent one is the horrific gang-rape of four women and the murder of a man near Bulandshahr, which reminds us of the chilling Bulandshahr gang-rape last year, when a mother and daughter were raped near the highway.

While BJP came into power riding on tall promises of ending goonda-raj and controlling law & order, it seems like a distant dream in the current scenario. At best, some minor improvements can be expected, but hope for a significant change will be optimistic to the point of delusion. Not to forget the fact that BJP’s rise is bringing another set of goons in the fray, who commit crimes in the name of gauraksha or Hindutva, on a regular basis. It is a daydream to think that any government, be it BJP or SP or BSP, can control crime. A broader assessment of the situation is required to understand the source of the problem. For UP, it is the size, and caste politics.

UP is caught in a vicious cycle of caste politics and criminal-politician nexus. This is further complicated because of its size and population. These two factors make it impossible to find the perfect caste equation. Only when the state is divided can this caste-web be unentangled. Further, no CM or DGP can oversee close to 80 districts. It is bizarre to think that a CM can succeed in micro-managing changes, or a DGP can improve law and order, for so many districts at the same time. The division of the state into three or four smaller states has been debated and discussed a few times, but has never been shaped into a concrete goal.

The name Uttar Pradesh, or ‘Northern State’, is itself a farce (J&K, Himachal, and Punjab are the true northern states), chosen to continue the acronym UP (United Provinces) after independence. Historically, it was called North-Western Provinces (NWP), which seems to be a more appropriate name considering its location. With time, NWP was renamed as Agra Province and then merged with Oudh (or Awadh) to form United Provinces (of Agra & Oudh). Unfortunately, Ambedkar and the States Reorganization Commission were overlooked when they suggested a division of the state into two way back in the 1950s. Nehru did not agree to it and probably foresaw UP as his political laboratory. All major states like Punjab, Madras State, Bombay State were divided but not United Provinces. Not surprisingly, this state has gone from bad to worse. Uttarakhand has made much progress after separation from the state and a similar movement for carving out new states is needed from the western (Harit Pradesh), central (Awadh), and eastern (Purvanchal) regions of the state.

If the current state remains intact, it will be a political, social and economic disaster. Politically, BJP took over the baton from Congress and conveniently decided to make the state their Hindutva laboratory. The current situation in Saharanpur indicates that BSP will continue this experiment. SP has used the Muslim-Yadav combine successfully by playing caste politics across different demographics in each region. From Muslim issues in the western regions to Ram Mandir in the central regions, the state continues to suffer from multiple political objectives. This state is too big, the only way it can be won is through divide-and-rule. Politicians are dividing the electorate to rule this state. This polarisation politics can be set back by splitting the state, and with it, the political agenda. Yadav-Muslim politics will end the day Western UP is separated because Yadavs dominate the Etawah region and Muslims are in the Doab region. The need for polarisation in Western UP will end. Purvanchal, which has a higher concentration of non-Yadav OBC’s, will not necessarily need a wedge with Yadavs for electoral reasons.

Socially too, these regions are linguistically and culturally distinct with their own sets of cuisine and language. While Khari boli and Braj are preferred in the western region, which is culturally closer to Haryana, the east has its own Bhojpuri culture and is closer to Bihar. Awadh, with its traditions, has always been a very different place from these two regions. However, the most significant benefit of this divide will go to India and its 1.3 billion people. One large state which changes the political landscape of the entire country is a very bad deal for a democracy where smaller states need as much importance as the larger ones. Uttar Pradesh gets too much political and media attention at the expense of other states, and it’s unfair to them. Compare it to the portfolio of a fund manager where one single investment is so big that it impacts the overall portfolio and overwhelms the performance of other investments. Uttar Pradesh is too big an investment and should be divided so as to balance this democracy. Sooner or later, it will be a state with 250 million people. The administration will crumble and will be brought to its feet. We must not reach that breaking point.

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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.

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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.

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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
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