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The Blurring Boundaries Between Politics And Governance

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Politics and governance are two totally different aspects but are often mixed up, for the sake of the convenience of those at the helm of affairs. It is not uncommon to see political decisions being passed with a tag of ‘governance’ and the blame for inadequate governance being shifted to tardy politics.

Often, it is assumed that those who are good at politics are ubiquitously better at governance and thus we hand over the reins to a ‘better politician’ rather than someone good at governance, which ends up creating a mess. A good politician is one who has an excellent connection with the people and is blessed with flamboyant oratory skills using which, they can achieve two primary objectives – convincing people that they will work for their welfare and efficiently deal with political opponents and their mudslinging.

People confuse a good politician with a good leader and that’s where the trick lies. Also, pertinent it is to mention here, that in the above sentence, the word ‘good’, used twice has different meanings. When I say “a good politician”, I mean a politician who is good at politics, not someone people would necessarily need. But when I say “a good leader”, it describes the quality as a leader that people would surely need.

Last year, a decision was taken that had a massive impact on the lives of every Indian. It was November 8, 2016, and at the stroke of the midnight notes of denominations 500 and 1000 were rendered illegal as tenders of currency. The decision received a mixed response. The government changed its stance multiple times about its intent behind the move – first, it was to eradicate black money from the system, then it was to weed out corruption. But when data from RBI came out saying that most of the banned notes had made into the banking system, the tone suddenly changed. The new stance was that the move was to make the system cashless and to promote an era of digital transactions.

All those reasons notwithstanding, in my head, one thing was very clear. The Modi Sarkar could have achieved its political target, the UP elections, through demonetisation. For me, all clues point to the fact that the donations to the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party were suddenly deemed irrelevant after demonitisation, and they had no time to rack them up while BJP was way ahead. Also, according to a few reports, it became clear that many in the BJP were well aware of the move, so much for its secrecy. One cannot ignore the timing of the move also, which coincided well with UP elections. Governance was used to hide the political motive. And when governance failed, politics was to be blamed.

Did we achieve freedom from black money and corruption with that move? Definitely not, because the police still take bribes, the court’s reek of corruption and the Non-Performing Assets are rising in the Public Sector Banks, for which recently, the government has announced an infusion of funds to keep them afloat. This was a measure which would spark inflation and impeded growth and that happened inevitably. The GDP slumped, the prices soared, and there was none to be directly blamed, no accountability at all.

To top that, controversies on topics like Padmavati, the Ram Mandir and Baba Ram Rahim are allowed to devour the real estate of news to keep the public busy. This ensures that we deviate and the real questions about the efficacy of government measures, sluggish growth, dwindling infrastructure, crumbling employment and the likes never take centre stage.

Very strategically, religion and politics are used interchangeably. Figure this. Barely six months before the Gujarat elections, Instant Triple Talaq was declared illegal. In my opinion, this was done to woo the Muslim community in Gujarat as that is the most sensational combination to tap into. If it is not to woo the Muslim voters of Gujarat – the hardest for BJP to woo – then what is this move’s real motive?

Every measure by the government that is projected as either developmental or progressive has a political undertone to it. And religion is influencing both the politics and policy to a very unhealthy level. The actual issues which affect our everyday lives like better roads, less taxation, improved infrastructure, better transport services, better civic amenities, seamless power connectivity, better internet speeds are being looked over for the construction of a temple, the banning of age-old religious practices or simply, a Bollywood film.

But the ruling party and the government are not solely to be blamed for this. We, the citizens, are an equal party, as we get swayed by one breaking news, forgetting the real issues and helping the power mongers to play with the dual cards of politics and governance as they wish. There are many Jaichands among us also who want to wield our own limited power in a signature fashion by egging on selective and less relevant issues and keeping the flame burning. Unless a good number of citizens are hand-in-glove with the government, these games are seldom playable.

It’s time we realize this fallacy and act upon it. After all, it’s our lives that get affected due to this. The choice lies with us.

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  1. Aniruddh Shrivastava

    Good Article.

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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.

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.

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.

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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.”

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.

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.

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