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Is Nationalism Only Defined By Our Hatred For Others?


Can you define nationalism? This might seem like a very vague and useless question as we all claim to be incredibly patriotic. But answering this question is not as easy as it seems.

If we are asked to define nationalism, can we provide a definition without making any reference to dying or killing? Can we define it without dragging in other nations and most importantly, without using the words ‘revenge’ or ‘avenge’? Is it possible for us to understand, explain and disseminate the idea of being a true nationalist without imagining a debate, a fight, a war or even a cricket match? The answer is probably no.

Endless arguments around the question of nationalism and ‘anti-nationalism’ and the coverage of such issues by the media have helped in the emergence of a new, subjective and more multifaceted concept of nationalism.

One of the biggest flaws of this kind of nationalism is its need to depend on someone or something else. Our nationalism needs to be proven by disliking or professing hatred towards other nations, cultures and even certain personalities. We are ‘good’ Indians only if we hate Pakistan and China.

Only feeling these things are not enough – we need to vocalise our sentiments through social media. We must not compliment the posts of any persons from these nations. We are not ‘true Indians’ if we do not curse or abuse other nations in synchronisation with others. If you don’t do this, you are an ‘anti-national’, an ‘outsider’ protesting against the sane group of true patrons.

Our nationalism is incomplete without the hate for others. For one to be truly ‘nationalist’ there should be an idea of who is ‘anti-national’. Imagine one set of rules which are hypothetically demeaning to our nation. Whoever follows these rules is an ‘anti-national’ and whoever doesn’t is the true nationalist. The whole process of categorising your dedication towards the nation depends entirely on defining what constitutes being against the nation.

Another important feature of proving infinite affinity towards our nation is being always ready for war. We must always be in full mood to risk the lives of thousands of soldiers and civilians just to prove that we cannot keep quiet because that would hurt the image of the nation.

The media plays a more intense role in glorifying violence and proposing the need for war. We are a developing country, the last thing we need is wastage of resources and the lives of our hard-working soldiers over political issues. I am not saying any other nation is justified to harm our civilians either but we have an entire cabinet of learned ministers, a very potent defence system and a long list of intellectual diplomats to handle these issues in the most profitable way possible. Hence, splitting the screen into three-four windows and discussing why we are not fighting seems completely avoidable.

Another important feature of our nationalism – bans on art and artists. First ban any movie, book or television show because it portrays a certain national figure in an ‘improper’ way and thus hurts the sentiments of our fellow Indians. Second, don’t let artists from other countries be a part of any of these art forms because it again proves that you are not loyal to the nation and the nationalists. But don’t bans like these prove our disloyalty to the Indian Constitution?

Again our nationalism focuses less on the profit we may earn through these art forms in the international market and more on the easily hurt sentiments. Talking about being loyal to the country, what other activity could be the apt yardstick to measure our patriotism than a cricket match? Who is your favourite cricket player? Whom are you supporting in this or that match? You don’t support the Indian team even after being an Indian? These questions are there to judge you and ascertain whether you are a traitor.

I might like an Australian batsman more than an Indian player and still have more love in my heart for my nation. I might not support any war and still be more dedicated to serving the country. My idea of patriotism might not be to wage a war but to live and simply sit in my house, study hard with the aim of making my country proud. Our nationalism should not depend on hatred towards others. The road to nationalism need not to be gory, violent and full of hatred. I can like China and Pakistan and still love India the most. I might not like the “like if you are an Indian” posts but still have patriotism deeply imbibed in my heart.

We don’t need to dislike anyone; rather, we need to love ourselves. We don’t need to belittle others but upgrade ourselves. We don’t always need to fight at the border for our country; there are many important battles to be fought within the periphery of our own nation.

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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, 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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