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One Argument That Keeps Derailing Every Attempt At Logical Debate In India

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A typical ploy used by those who hide behind neutrality is whataboutery or accusing others of selective outrage. When you bring up lynching in the name of cows, they will hunt for data on all other lynchings starting from 1947, and ask why you didn’t speak out against those (a trait best exemplified by Anand Ranganathan on Twitter).

If you bring up army excesses in Kashmir, you will be countered with why you have nothing to say about Pandits, as though that settles the question. Both are facts. I may choose to highlight one, you another. That said, I am yet to come across a sensible liberal who justifies the eviction of Pandits or attempts to silence others when they bring up that issue. But that’s not the case with those who want you to be silent on the plight of Kashmiris.

Take the case of Gauri Lankesh’s murder. She was an ardent critic of Hindutva politics. So, there was nothing surprising when some liberal writers suspected the hand of Hindutva fundamentalists behind this heinous crime. The investigation is on and they could be proven wrong. At the same time, most of these neutral ‘data-driven’ folks don’t even bother to raise their voice against those who are celebrating her death. Instead, they cry selective outrage again pointing to the silence of the English language journalists when other regional language journalists were killed.

The best part is that those who bring up selective outrage had nothing to say, when the 21 other regional language journalists that Mr Ranganathan points out, were killed. Did Mr Ranganathan speak out? I doubt. Either they didn’t care or they didn’t know, but they suddenly know now. That’s where the bias of neutrality becomes clear.

If the government of the day seems slanted towards a majority community, you would expect an outcry from the state itself on any attack on the majority. It’s unlikely that an attack on the poor and vulnerable from minority communities or on the Dalits or on those who stand up against majoritarian politics will attract the same outcry from the state. And guess who is more powerful in this country? The State or the English language journalists?

We must also not forget that some of those who are accused of the selective outcry now, were stringent critics of the previous government. Ramachandra Guha published “A Short History of Congress Chamchargiri” in 2012 when the UPA was in power. Was he partisan then? Siddharth Varadarajan, current editor of The Wire and then editor of The Hindu, wrote article after article critical of the UPA. Was he biased then? The Outlook, then edited by the late Vinod Mehta, and The Open Magazine, whose then political editor was Hartosh Singh Bal, broke the story of Radia tapes that helped bring the UPA government down. Were Mehta and Bal Congress stooges? Ravish Kumar of NDTV was a harsh critic of the Congress Party as well as the UPA government. And those who abuse him today applauded him then.

What does it say about some of these writers and media persons? They have their flaws and biases. But at least they have never been government chamchas (followers). The role of the free press is not that of a court poet appointed to bestow praise on the king. But that’s exactly what the so-called right-wing media does.

If you write about a political murder in Karnataka, you will be informed that it is a Congress-ruled state. If children die due to lack of oxygen in a UP hospital, a BJP-ruled state, you will be provided with statistics of the number of children who died when the Samajwadi Party was in power. Or about the number of children who died in a non-BJP ruled state.

The last time I checked the map of India, I couldn’t find India anywhere. There was Telangana, Goa, Jharkhand, Meghalaya and so on. So, one would suppose that the dream of ache din (good days) applied to all, not just to BJP-ruled states.

You can never counter “but what about”. And you are not answerable to that question. As Tabish Khair said in a recent column in The Hindu: “I am willing to concede that I can never convince you of climate change. If I point to an extreme winter this year, you will point to a moderate winter another year.”

You must be to comment.

    For various reasons I’m sure that this youth ki aawaj is a leftist propaganda platform but here is a very beautiful piece by Anand Ranganathan , same man whose tweets you’ve quoted while building your arguments . In a scathing takedown of this newly coined term ‘whataboutery’ by left liberal intelligentsia , he drives a rapier into hypocrisy and hits the leftist loons in lumber. Here’s the link

    1. Gautam Kanekar

      Yeah, indeed all you can see is a leftist propoganda… Leftists who can’t understand the basics…Anyways, it is always the best to be a moderate..

    2. Rick Sanchez

      In that article Ranganathan has totally missed the point that bringing more facts doesn’t make the initial fact any wrong and right actions should be taken now if they haven’t been taken in the past. Saying what about doesn’t mean that if we had done some mistake in the past we should continue it in the present.
      PS don’t label the newsletter leftist, the articles are from commoners like us.
      Sorry for the bad english.

  2. Gautam Kanekar

    You do make ‘some’ sense…

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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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