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Birds Of A Feather Flock Together: What I Learned From The Karnataka Political Drama

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“The Royal Wedding vs The Karnataka Assembly Floor Test” – which one to follow? It was a tough call to make.

Well, I decided to go with the latter option. One doesn’t get to see this kind of “Great Indian political Tamasha” that often, How can I miss all the excitement? Yes, in India, even democracy is entertaining.

To be honest, I did not support any side in this nasty fight. I was ready for any sort of result.

My only curiosity was to reaffirm whether all the childhood stories we hear about MLA poaching and horse-trading after a hung assembly is true. I wanted to know if the nasty cheap tricks which are shown in movies are close to reality or just fiction?

First time ever I had the chance to see and judge the naked truth of Indian politics and the conclusion I arrived after closely following all the turn of events is this…

“No one is a Holy Cow in politics but the voters are definitely the Bakra” 

From the moment Congress announced it will give “Unconditional Support” to JDS in forming the government – the unveiling of political hypocrisy started. How can two parties which are archenemies come together so fast to be allies just to defeat BJP?   It’s just plain opportunistic.

Congress was just living up to their existing bad reputation.

Well, the BJP wasted no time in proving that they too are not any different.

Governor Vajubhai Rudabhai Vala’s invite to B. S. Yeddyurappa to form the government started unmaking their dishonesty too. They went against the very way they formed governments in Goa, Manipur and Meghalaya, they preached that the single largest party should be allowed to form the government. Isn’t this clear double standards on display?

And then things only got nastier. Yeddyurappa’s swearing-in as Chief Minister, the involvement of the Supreme Court in reducing the timeframe to prove majority from 15 days to just 1 day, the huddle of Karnataka legislators to Hyderabad and then immediately back to Bangalore, and the curious case of two missing Congress MLAs. So much was happening.

I was thinking to myself that these things are common in Indian politics, Nothing to worry much. But then on the day of the judgment things took a drastic turn.

Multiple audio tapes were released by Congress, exposing the “win at any cost” strategy of BJP. One tape claiming to be the voice of Janardhana Reddy, In another, allegedly the Chief Minister Yeddyurappa himself was involved. They were openly bribing the Congres/JDS MLAs with unlimited Money and Ministerial positions. All this to persuade them for a jump to the other side.

This is the most shocking event for me.
Is this what Ram Madhav meant when he said: “Don’t worry, we have Amit Shah”

My immediate reaction was –
What happened to “Na khaoonga, na khane doonga”?
What happened to “Mujhe Chowkidar Bana do”?

BJP, which came into power by proclaiming themselves free from any corruption by blasting Congress on multiple scams is now publicly trying to purchase MLAs to gain the majority. It’s not just ironic but also a betrayal of people’s trust. So far, most of the BJP supporters are proud of their clean image, but now these revealings are contradictory to their assumptions and expectations.

Is winning more important than keeping your promises of clean politics? How does this make you any different from parties like Congress? How can you talk about fighting corruption?

These questions are very tough to answer for the BJP now.

The only logical way to understand this situation is to tell yourself that “birds of a feather, flock together”

At the end of the day, all politicians and parties are the same. We don’t have the liberty to choose the best among the available options but we have to see who is a little bit less bad.

Will this cycle ever end, or is this the permanent fate of Indian politics? We have seen the rise and fall of Jayaprakash Narayan Andolan, and the leaders emerged from that movement turned out to be corrupt. We have seen the likes of Anna and Kejriwal raise the expectations and then unable to live up to them, Now the same cycle seems to be repeating with BJP too.

With this brief trailer of ‘Karnataka Political Nataka’, I am not sure what all we will get to see in the coming national elections in 2019. Are things are going to get only murkier or will there be any silver lining?

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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 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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