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

Lessons In Democracy (Read Dictatorship), As Per A BJP Worker In Gujarat

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If you are a political party running a government in a ‘free’ and ‘democratic’ country but interested in staying in power forever (some call this aspiration ‘fascist’ while others mild it down to ‘authoritarianism’ – but it is quite likely that this is driven by a higher-order nationalist feeling of saving a poor country like ours from expensive elections), you have to do several things. Key amongst them is neutering democracy’s watchdog. Oh, I don’t mean the press. Most news shops, as we know, are happy to ‘self-castrate’ themselves with memos which their corporate bosses dole out. The few ‘free thinkers’ still holding on to journalistic ideals can be character assassinated. Or, well, be assassinated.

But then, what does one do with the damn social media which, despite being owned by corporations, allows people (yes, I know – only on the ‘right side’ of the digital divide) to show the middle finger to traditional media, create their own freaking media and speak their minds? Sure, you can troll them down to pure hell and misery. But that is not without its costs and consequences. Have you seen the number of sites dedicated to busting fake news? Gosh, they are menacing and such spoilsports!

Now, if you are a political party living on the past glory of fighting for sovereign independence and past electoral conquests – with no claws to bare, currently, but only tainted fangs – you are doomed. But, if you are the ‘neo bloke’ on the block led by ‘Broad Chest Alpha’ – who doesn’t flinch while lying, and has ‘full-grown men’ falling over each other to please you and take forward your mantra – then we are talking.

These full-grown men come with ideas that the ‘lib-sec’ write-off with an arrogant chuckle (and in that lies their defeat) – but which, in fact, are pure genius. Check out the latest one from Gujarat – it’s a pamphlet. A crappy single-colour, badly-designed piece of art that people and schools all over Gujarat have received – followed up by phone calls from the Department of Education urging managers and principals to get their students to fill and return them.

What does it say? Ah, now you ask!

It’s a pledge form by one Madadgaar Parivar (translates to Helper Family, so sweet!), evidently run by a ‘full-grown man’ called Prakash Gurjar. The man’s not fake, I checked! According to his blogspot, he is ‘a young dynamic and vibrant karyakarta of BJP from Karnavati, Gujarat, with a profound penchant for patriotism and philanthropy’. For those who are thinking ‘what the cow’ is Karnavati, it’s the Hindu way of honouring Ahmedabad. Gurjar was the vice-president of the Gujarat Youth Congress until 2012, and abandoned it when the previously-mentioned ‘tainted-fangs party’ did not give him a ticket to contest elections.

I checked up on Madadgaar Parivar too. The first couple of searches led me to a Madadgaar, an NGO based in Karachi, Pakistan! Of course I froze on my trackpad – I wasn’t in the mood to be slapped with sedition charges!

Back to the pledge form. So, it says:

Resolution for Achievement.

India Home.

My Country is My Home.

32,86,237 square kilometres.

Resolution/Pledge Letter

1. I will, from today, believe that the whole of Bharat, that is 32,86,237 square kilometres, is my home.

2. Within the 32,86,237 square kilometres, I will only throw trash in garbage bins, I will not dirty it, nor will I let anyone do so.

3. I will not prejudicially criticise (blame/disparage/dispraise) the administration that is formed of the people, by the people and for the people.

Yes, I am Madadgaar (helper). Pledger (sign).

Place: Gujarat, Bharat. Date: 16-9-2017

Madadgaar. Name:, Mobile:, Address

Come let us together create a new Bharat.

(Photo) Prakash Gurjar. Madadgaar Parivar (Helper Family)

How is this a piece of genius? Check out point 3. Look at the clever way of redefining the very core essence of democracy itself. Now, childhood readings of basic civics lessons may still remind some of you ‘lib-secs’ that ‘in a democracy the government is formed of the people, by the people and for the people’. In fact, this ‘of, by and for’ has become such a freaking cliched weapon.

Look how cleverly this pamphlet ‘de-teaches’ democracy by not even saying the word. And the ‘will not prejudicially criticise’ portion is a surgical strike at the very jugular of the overrated democracy.

Remember how we were taught in schools about the six basic elements of democracy? The first one about ‘elected representatives’ is still cool because it allows for the majority to rule the roost. The rest are such a drag:

2. elections,

3. civil liberties (yikes!),

4. rule of law (this one is cool as long as the law enforcers wear the same chaddi),

5. independent judiciary,

and the horrible

6. organised opposition.

This last one is a hornet’s nest because it taught us that the opposition keeps an eye on the policies and working of the government. By criticising the wrong policies of the government, it forces the government to make laws and frame policies for the welfare of the people. It prevents the government from being dictatorial. Look at those harsh words – like ‘forces’ and ‘prevents’. ‘Why the cow’ should a democracy allow anyone to ‘force’ or ‘prevent’ a government made ‘by the people’, right?

Now, so far as ‘organised opposition’ is limited to mean ‘other political parties’, it’s a cakewalk considering the fact that all of them are pretty toothless, currently. But, when you have a situation where every goddamn ‘lib-sec’ thinks that they are the ‘opposition’ and starts to criticise the government for its wheeling and dealing, high-handedness and crony capitalism, things get out of hand. Not to mention their outrage on street violence and killings (pathetic, right?). And these ‘sickulars’ then circumvent the TRP-overdosed media and take to Twitter and Facebook. Damn!

So, how do you beat them? Read the pamphlet again and discover the genius. You take some toilet paper (young minds and their ignoramus teachers are not worthy of more than that, in any case), print this crap, call the schools up, squeeze their ‘aid balls’ and instruct them to get their students to sign. Now, when students read, “I will not prejudicially criticise the administration” right beside the ‘of, for and by’ cliche, they will surely take this to be the updated ‘democracy mantra’ doled out by ‘His Highness The Broad Chest’, because his photo is on the top left corner. Clearly, you don’t expect the cowardly teachers to interpret this work of art as a blasphemy of true democracy! So, the students sign the pledge – and then five years later, they join the ‘neo-bhakti’ movement. Bang! Score!

Now, for the final stroke of masterful genius – did you notice the date on the pamphlet? Yes, it’s post-dated. Why September 16? Google ‘Modi birthday’ and you will see the magic reveal itself. Yes, it’s the day before his birthday. Even toilet paper must be gift-wrapped!

Now you know why even the RSS is envious of the right-wingers in Gujarat. They are a class apart. Accept it.

Full disclosure: This was written after consuming one full glass of sweet fresh lime soda, and two plates of beef – chilly fried. No animals were harmed in the course of writing this. Some may get hurt now.

A version of this post first appeared on the author’s blog.

_

Featured image used for representative purposes only.

Featured image source: Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
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By India Development Review (IDR)

By Youth Action Hub- India (Delhi)

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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.

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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
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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