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We Millennials Have Information At Our Fingertip, But Are We Using It To Understand Each Other Better?

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You can understand how today’s kids are on track to become a powerhouse generation, full of technology planners, community shapers, institution builders, and world leaders, perhaps destined to dominate the twenty-first century like today’s fading and ennobled G.I. Generation dominated the twentieth.
– Neil Howe and William Strauss, “Millennials Rising”.
This generation unlike any other known in living memory has come to face an explosion of ideas, thoughts and knowledge, combined with the speed of networks and communication. While living in the current binding it has a wide range of ideas and information to choose from. A book which was previously unavailable in India, due to its contents leading it to be banned, can now be read online using just a small technology. The fullest extent of the technological stretch is yet to be felt across the globe equally. The chasm of information and knowledge which was created by our colonial masters is now being slowly bridged together. Cultural relativism has now become a thing not limited to the books and the coffee tables of the intellectuals but rather a common man’s thought. A rational and wise person will not go around calling out a Dalit in public place rather, he will judge the person on the basis of other factors, such as how he presents himself and how well read he is.
The millennials, that being us, have been given access to information at a minimal cost. Something which was unimaginable back in the times of our fathers. My father, for instance, had not heard of “Time” magazine till he was into his late 30s. Even the prospect of coming to Delhi for higher education was something he only thought of in his dreams. And now just after a generation, his son can think of going to the States for higher studies. The keys of the globe were given to us at a very young age. Very few of us have rather decided to utilise this new tool. I can sit down and read Foucault while listening to Scott Joplin’s “The Cascades” without paying a dime or moving from my laptop. Are we using this gifts to satiate our narcissist hunger? Or has that become the new cultural identity that will be imposed on our generation? Our parent’s generation saw a lot of political upheavals, from Bengal to Assam to Kashmir, what we have come to see is a more of a cultural change.
One of the primary things anthropologists do when they encounter a previously undiscovered culture is that they try to understand its various customs and traditions. Which I believe the white man forgot to do when he was busy conquering the world. Something so ancient might seem insignificant but over the years of studying history, you realise the importance of how a culture was brought into the circulation of the “civilisation”.
Have you seen how when you turn off the light, the plasma is still hot enough to leave an afterglow? This is the cultural hangover that we are unknowingly facing. We forget the fact that different cultures lead to different methods of upbringing and exposure that lead to different attributes in their personality. The perceived uncouthness of a person from Kanpur and the tehzeeb of a Lucknow guy is primarily due to the kind of atmosphere they have been exposed to since birth. So will you not accept him for how he talks, or will you try to understand why he behaves as how he behaves? This is why cultural relativism is so important.
 
“I think it’s impossible to really understand somebody, what they want, what they believe, and not love them the way they love themselves.” —Orson Scott Card
The millennials today face a dilemma. Something that is not outrightly spoken about but is felt in the electricity of the atmosphere. This fork of the road is very simple. People have forgotten the idea of identity being not so stringent. The multiplicity of the identity of an individual comes about even when you don’t necessarily ask for it. It is something inherent to human behaviour — how we might not like a certain idea for its practically rather for its beauty as an ideology. We have begun to fight, verbally and physically, over matters which we don’t exactly comprehend.
Of the many people who are termed as Right radicals, you can actually count the number of people who know the history of Capitalism and its proponents, yet the Left-liberals will tag the title of Right radicals to every individual who does not agree with their thoughts. The Left with its ideal of living in its safe spaces and not giving a platform to the Right is also a problem. The Left with all its knowledge and propagation of truth still fails to explain why its hung up on the beauties and failures of the past.
Having said all this, you ask yourself,  are these problems something inherent to human beings? If so then has to have such a plethora of information at our fingertips made us incapable of judgement between a morally right or wrong decision? Can an animal be so much more important than another that we could kill them? Does that not contradict the sentience of being of the “important” animal?
The question of identity which looms over us when someone asks us on which side of the political spectrum do we lean on is actually redundant. In the present day, an identity might range from being a postmodernist to a neo-liberal to agnostic. No one identity holds a person’s thought together. Will we restrict ourselves to the limited ideas of the political activists who would prefer you be within the frame of the Left or Right, as it is easier for them then to appropriate your identity? It is very simple because calling a postmodern artist a dissident would not make sense unless they want to label art as a form of violent call-to-arms.
We might have forgotten the importance of this age, the age when information is not limited to a chosen few, rather the masses. An age where we can have an enlightened mass, yet we chose not to indulge our intellectual ideas into discovering the modern society and philosophy and argue over matters which is clearly a tool for political mobilisation.

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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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