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From ‘Wah Taj’ To ‘Why Taj’

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Dear Taj,

How are you?

I have heard that you could be wiped away from history. I also heard that you were built by traitors. I am quite disheartened, my friend. When I first met you in my history classes in school, I was told that you were one of the seven wonders of the world. The books never mentioned that you were built by traitors of my ‘Bharat-Varsh’. You were known as the heritage of my folks. You were a standing prestige of the enriched and diverse history of ethnicity.

A few days ago, I heard a man saying that you were built by ill-men who had come to plunder my ancestors. But the last time I read history the ‘ill-men’ who built you were the ones who were tolerant towards my Hindu ancestors. And don’t you dare lie to me about it! I have read the facts properly. And why are only your creators ‘ill-men’? If I have to go with that man’s logic, what about the Lodis and the Britishers? I would rather call the Britishers with such names than your creator if I had to. I am pretty sure that they were a bigger blot on my history than you. I now think: what would he say about Tulsi Das, Tansen, Birbal, etc who worked in the darbars of your creators. Are they traitors too?

I see nowadays, people debating about you on most of the news channels. What have you done? Don’t tell me you got yourself in the wrong pages of the Sangh. Don’t you know? You don’t question, debate, ask, or even think against their propaganda? Just say ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’. Don’t talk reason to them. And don’t you dare sit down majestically in Agra when they play the national anthem. Nowadays, it’s better to stay quiet and say and do what they say. You don’t agitate with them!

How are the others? Tell Red Fort, Qutab Minar, Agra Fort, Fatehpur Sikri, Buland Darwaza, Jama Masjid, etc to beware. Tell them to not get in trouble. You cannot predict what happens next for a few years you know. There has been some sudden tectonic shift in debates since a few years. Suddenly we are talking about irrelevant things rather than talking about major issues in the nation. And yeah! Tell your cousin Red Fort and the others from Delhi to not roam around JNU. I have heard things get pretty nasty over there.

I still remember when I was young and used to have environmental studies classes, my teacher told me how you were getting sick due to acid rain. I wonder why are not people talking about that now. I know the pollution in the capital and NCR is making you sick and I seriously want to help but the people out there don’t care about you, it seems. What can I do? They don’t even listen to their own elected government and the Supreme Court too.

But I don’t get one thing. Some people called you a stigma to their religion. Why is ancient heritage a blot on religion? What I have learned is that religion saves humans. And suddenly there are these humans who are trying to save religion.

You are not afraid of all of us, right? Frankly speaking, if I were you, I would. All this hate, debates and dissing would literally make me paranoid. I mean do you watch news channels? All that shouting, questioning and discussions would seriously make anyone petrified.

I’m sorry though, for asking how you are. Obviously, you are doing poorly. You know what, just isolate yourself for some time from television and social media. Don’t worry about it for too long though. I know this country. In no time there will be a new illogical thing happening. You won’t last long. Illogical issues are surely hyped here but slowly fade away. You know, to divert humans from real issues, you always have to come up with something nonsensical. Don’t worry, you are not the problem here. The problem is the religion your creator was a follower of. These days the ‘M’ religion and the lower classes are used to the hard times.

By the way, how is the Yamuna? I had talked to her a few years ago. She was quite fit back then. Now I hardly recognise her from the sickness. People have forgotten her. I fear for her future too. Send regards to her.

You are a monument made out of love, but hey, did you hear about the ‘anti-love’ situation in your state? If you have not, then look out on Valentine’s Day. You don’t want to go out with someone that day in your state, trust me!

Nevertheless, if someone questions you just say this: There is a book called “What is History” by E.H. Carr according to which history is like the rear-view-mirror in your car. A person has to see the windshield, that is, the present and not the rear-view mirror.

But I guess right now we are busy trying to drive looking at the rear-view-mirror so never mind.

Be safe! It’s the need of the hour for all of us.

Yours faithfully,
A confused citizen of Bharat Ganarajya

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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