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

70 Years Later, It’s Time To Start Building The India Our Founding Fathers Wanted

More from Maitridevi Sisodia

India – or Bharat – turns 70 today. We are a nation that was carved out not based on a common ethnicity or language but based on our common suffering and struggle. We are a nation of diverse ethnicities, languages and faiths, held together by an idea. The mighty idea that there can be unity in diversity, that people with fundamentally different values can coexist peacefully and flourish. The mighty idea of India, rooted in her history of tolerance and acceptance, for which thousands of great men and women made the ultimate sacrifice.

Today as a nation we are facing formidable challenges both, from within and without. Amidst these hurdles and changing times, it’s imperative to reconcile ourselves with this idea of India while we take the plunge towards this aspirational New India.

Our freedom fighters not only fought for the freedom of our nation but also defined it during the struggle. The brutally repressive British Raj came down with all its force on these brave men and women. On many occasions, the most patriotic act left at the disposal of the fighters was to wave our flag, raise slogans for freedom, and sing what would soon become the national anthem and national song, thereby registering their protest against the Raj and seeding the idea of our nation amongst the masses. We must cherish and respect these symbols that encapsulate our struggle for independence along with the values of our founding fathers and mothers. Now that we celebrate 70 years of freedom, in New India let our patriotism be defined by our intentions and actions to contribute towards nation-building rather than just by our enthusiastic rendering of the national anthem and the national song, or by hoisting giant flags.

India is one of the very few countries that accommodated universal adult franchise in the constitution, right from the first moments of their existence. Our founding fathers and mothers ensured that women of our country get equal rights in the democracy. Given the social mores of those times, this was a progressive step. Compared to this, New India has a long way to go, both politically and socially. The State must see to it that in New India women do not have to compromise on their career aspirations due to a lack of safety and accessibility. Society must see to it that we do not hold women back so they fit into the patriarchally defined roles. The change will be catalysed by having women in important positions in public and private organisations; society and the State have to work together to attain this. New India wouldn’t be able to reap the benefits of the demographic dividend if half of our population is held back by these barriers.

The leaders of free India recognised and owned up to the historical injustices that were done to the repressed classes. A constitutional remedy in the form of reservations was envisaged to level the playing field in independent India. While the policy of reservation has not been entirely successful, it has certainly helped the depressed classes. In today’s India, we see regionally dominant communities like Jats, Marathas and Patidars vying for reservation benefits. While it is for another time to argue the righteousness of these claims, we have to work for New India to be different. New India shouldn’t have communities protesting to prove their backwardness – rather, it should have adequate opportunities so as to cater to their needs. This can be done by bridging the gap between educational courses, vocational courses and job opportunities. It is a Herculean task to achieve this, given the needed overhaul in education and job generation scenarios. But so was getting freedom from the Raj.

We should collectively strive for a New India that is free from the malice of divisive caste-based politics. The secular ethos of free India has been muddied time and again in history, to gain political advantage. New India, essentially young India, must change this. Young citizens of the country must be educated about the harm that such communal politics has done to the social fabric of India. We should embrace our diversity, as the founding fathers intended.

We must also ensure that dissent is not discouraged in New India. A liberal democracy sees to it that citizens have equal rights to voice different opinions. With our pluralism, tolerance should come effortlessly. The Supreme Court judgement in Bijoe Emmanuel vs. State of Kerala stated,”Our tradition teaches tolerance; our philosophy preaches tolerance; our Constitution practices tolerance. Let none dilute it.” President Kovind, in his speech on the eve of the 71st Independence Day, also said that New India must be tolerant and progressive.

Image Credit: Raj K Raj/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

As citizens, let us strive to engage more with others having differing opinions. We can draw a lot of examples from pre-independent India, wherein groups with different ideals and ideas coexisted within a unit, to achieve the common goal. Let us take a page from it and not stoop to name-calling, using terms like AAPtards, Bhakts, etc, simply because of their different political preferences, it does not serve any purpose for a productive interaction. In order to celebrate our diversity, we must first understand and accept it. Regional and linguistic chauvinism should find no place in New India.

Let New India focus more on the grass-root issues of ensuring a basic standard of life for her citizenry rather than debating icons and ideologies. The latter is not any less important for a nation but former has to be a priority. We’re a young nation with a predominantly young generation, our challenges aren’t bigger than our collective potential. As J.F. Kennedy said – “The efforts of the government alone will never be enough. In the end, the people must choose and the people must help themselves.” Let’s collectively toil to achieve the lofty ideals that are being muzzled by our current difficulties.

I am reminded of the hackneyed dialogue from Rang De Basanti -“Koi bhi desh perfect nahi hota, use perfect banana padta hai (No country is perfect, it has to be made perfect).” Our freedom fighters bled and made the ultimate sacrifice for India to be free. It is only fair that we sweat and hustle to achieve the India that they envisioned. New India owes it to them.

You must be to comment.

More from Maitridevi Sisodia

Similar Posts

By Akanksha kapil

By Shruti Jairaj Singh

By Imran Khan

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 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.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below