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Delhi Vs Mumbai: Who Runs The Country And Who Sets The Discourse?

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In one of his stand-up clips, comedian Kunal Kamra called out Mumbaikars for their arrogance. He went on to say that Mumbaikars (residents of Mumbai, erstwhile Bombay) have nothing to be proud of and should stop making fun of Delhi.

Manu Joseph (former Editor-in-chief of the Open magazine), in his weekly column, wrote, ”Like a rich man’s son, Delhi is a beneficiary of undeserved privileges. That is at the heart of Bombay’s contempt for Delhi.”

The conflict is better described as a physiological state of war between Mumbai and Delhi. Their respective intelligentsias lashing out at each other through their creative spaces is a riveting conversation to look at. And to be a part of.

Delhi, for long, has been taunted and looked down upon for holding the clout in policy formation and taking decisions for the rest of the country. This is very well reflected in the nature and the behaviour of its citizens. It is indeed like the rich man’s son, as rightly pointed out by Joseph. People in Delhi parade a sense of social superiority over the rest of the country. That is because most of its citizens are just two degrees away from the centre of power.

Mumbai, on the other hand, is merciless. Mumbai is more real. Mumbai does not hide behind the larger ideological arguments of the so-called intellectuals in Lodhi Gardens. Mumbai is in the face.

Mumbai is like the tough patriarch who does not give away too easily. Mumbai is like the patriarch who made it through the terrific political and social turbulence and respectfully earns a penny or two and is more than happy and content to merely be able to feed his family. Mumbai is not about the class struggle but about the consciousness of its class. It is conscious of its immense power and accompanying limitations. Simply put, Mumbai is fiercely middle-class.

Delhi is pretentious. Its debates tick all the social parameters which would make the larger liberal democratic class to place it on a social pedestal. However, its actions don’t seem to. Delhi’s intellectual narrative is embedded in hegemony. It is controlled by only a few, considered to influence decision-making much more than any other socially and morally uplifted, educated PHD holding individual in any part of the country. No wonder the anger of a fiercely led movement by a certain Periyar in erstwhile Madras was certainly directed at the Capital or rather the power brokers in that city.

The reality of Delhi, however, reeks of a deep sense of caste discrimination, sexism and a distinctly built class structure. Delhi is like Aziz Ansari or the contemporary desi Jat feminist boy. Come morning, he talks about the emancipation of women and women’s struggle for equality. But at night, he goes back on what he says and does what his community is largely stigmatised and accused of.

Mumbai doesn’t give you space which Delhi does. For an aspiring journalist who is largely looking at spaces that afford one the leisure to spend long periods of time socialising, debating and discussing academic nuances and other pressing issues, Delhi hits the jackpot. The city gives you this option without making you ponder much over your rent, about traversing with thousands of others, crunched on a train bogey. It doesn’t make you think that you probably can’t afford a first class ticket and have to hang on there till you reach home amidst ten other aspiring professionals from different fields, fighting over who is going to answer nature’s call first.

Gossip is an integral part of both the cities’ discourse. Karan Johar and Bollywood. Arun Jaitley and the Delhi Gymkhana. Knowing a big-wig from Bollywood in Mumbai and someone from the executive in Delhi adds a silver lining to your social status. ‘Mera baap kaun hain pata hain?’ and the unwanted display of societal capitalism has different interpretations in either city but is close to both of them.

Intellectuals like that of Joseph in his column, argue for the case of Mumbai and not much for Delhi. In reality, both these great cities are run by families who have, for long been in these businesses. They form the topmost rung in the societal and economic food chain. In Delhi, being the Prime Minister of a country is the job of a single family. In Mumbai, Tiger Shroff becomes the heartthrob of the nation, and a certain Rajkummar Rao is still lingering and trying to find himself a space in the world’s largest film industry, run by the smallest group of people. Hence, the central question remains. If both the cities display a certain similarity of character, then who really runs the country? Who sets the discourse? Modi from Delhi? Or Ambani from Mumbai?

Well, currently it’s Gujarat. Dhokla, without a doubt, is definitely on its way to becoming the country’s favourite food. Gujarat’s ‘khushboo’ is now ‘desh’ ka khushboo.

For years, the significant similarity between the cities has been the contempt its indigenous citizens have towards the system and anyone who is not a real ‘Delhite’ or a ‘Mumbaikar.’ The reality of being one has several parameters, but the most important one is linguistics. ‘Marathi’ will indeed save you from the daily nuisance of haggling with your landlord in Mumbai and the surname of a ‘Pandey,’ ‘Saxena,’ ‘Malhotra’ or one from the upper caste Uttar Pradesh or Haryana region will do the same for you in Delhi.

The indigenous people have underlining anger against the outsiders, leading to cases of racial hatred and anger. The dominance of Shiv Sena and the rise of Arvind Kejriwal justifies this argument. They are the symbols of anger of the indigenous population trying to regain their lost ground and be the dominant voice in the discourse of the cities. Is it then right to address these cities as ‘cosmopolitan?’

Picture Courtesy – dilwallokidilli.wordpress.com

 

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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.

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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.

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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