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In The Hearts Of Karnataka’s Masses, Shankar Nag Lives On

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In every nook of Karnataka and Bengaluru, auto drivers and their respective stands adore Shankar Nag’s portrait – you will see stills from his widely celebrated movies, like “Auto Raja” or “SP Sangliana“.

“Auto Raja” is one of the very few movies in the Kannada film industry which had a deep impact on the hearts of auto drivers. Even after 27 years of Shankar Nag‘s death, numerous auto stand associations celebrate Shankar Nag‘s birthday on November 9. In all the programs, mimics of Shankar Nag are bound to fetch non-stop applause.

Till date, Shankar Nag‘s name reverberates in all the houses of Karnataka. In a career spanning 12 years, he left a remarkable and ever-lasting impact on the Kannada film industry. His films, such as “Muniyana Madari”, “Nodi Swamy Navirodu Hige”, “Lorry Driver”, “Karmika Kallanalla” etc, have had a lasting impact on the working class.

Nag is considered as one of the pioneers in the Kannada Film Industry— feeding high-quality content to the viewers. A swift flow of thoughts on the screen, without claptrap, were his strongest plus points. Many of his movies resonate his will to work towards a better society.

Shankar debuted as an actor in Girish Karnad’s epic film “Ondanondu Kaladalli” in 1978 and earned a national award at the Delhi International Film Festival with his flawless acting skills. The rest is history. He went on to act in more than 80 films from 1978 to 1990 besides dabbling in other roles, such as screenplay, direction, production, and numerous other works under the cloud called ‘cinema’. He is the only actor to act in 15 films in a single year after Dr Rajkumar, who acted in 16. His directorial debut “Minchina Ota” fetched him several state awards.

He went on to direct classic movies such as “Geetha”, “Ondu Muttina Kathe” etc. In “Ondu Muttina Kathe”, Shankar Nag was the first director in the Kannada Cinema to show the legendary Dr Rajkumar as a fisherman fighting for his hard-earned pearl. Until then, Dr Raj had been employed in rote, unvarying roles.

Ramesh Bhat, one of the close associates of Shankar Nag, once told an English daily, “He also literally lived in his car. He had a typewriter, book, and food in his car. So, he would read, write scripts, or type in his car. He was also a man who thought ahead of his time.

Even after shining like a bright star in the Kannada Film industry, Nag did not stick only to the cinema field. He stepped in to direct RK Narayan’s Malgudi days as a television serial. The serial was a hit and Swami, the lead character in the serial, was a household name, and Doordarshan gained immense popularity in the 1980s. He also started Rangashankara – a well-known theatre hosting numerous plays. Upendra, one of the finest actors in the Kannada Cinema industry, once said in an interview, “Shankar Nag‘s energy is immeasurable. He never wasted a single minute in his clock, he was always working on a story, script, and direction.

Shankar Nag is larger than life, and an idol who ought to be worshipped by millions of Kannadigas. In the 1980’s, he conceptualized Metro Rail Bengaluru, started the Country Club, and came up with low-cost housing projects. Moreover, he had a series of discussions with Ramakrishna Hegde about the developmental initiatives in Karnataka. He always believed that ‘It will be shameful to tell my kids that I was successful as an actor and not as a human being and not contributing to the society’.

Unfortunately, before Shankar could accomplish his plans, his life ended in a fateful accident, leaving lakhs of his followers in mourning. But he lives on through his work in the Kannada film industry.

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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.

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.

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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.

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.

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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.”

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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.

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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, 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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